Thank you for your question. I certainly apologize for your sentiments in this case. I think when you stop and consider all the circumstances in this case you might understand my approach. And by all means, I am not perfect and I too, make mistakes.
I am going to try and answer not only your question Scott, but many others that I have tried to remain silent on until today. Hopefully you can bear with me.
The "blackout" night has been considered for many years, the concept origniated with Gary Gait and myself talking about how we could improve the presentation of the game on television. The dasherboards being black was the genesis of the idea, we thought the white ball would show better on black boards rather than white. As the idea progressed we moved to helmets, jerseys, merchandise, crowd involvment and how to make that all happen.
For many reasons the ability to do all that couldn't come together until we focused earlier this season as a collective group with participation from all departments. As it became clear that we could pull this off we devoted more focus and energy to making the idea as good as we could.
The opportunity to develop a third jersey has been one that we have discussed for many years as well. The blackout created that opportunity. It was a lot of fun speculating on how it would look and the black out night lended itself to very little creativity. Bottom line, it had to be predominatly black!!! Along with a few others I wanted a very classic, vintage look. Working with the jersey manufacturers and our graphic design people we came up with a very simple, subtle, "classic" design.
We "borrowed" the approach that our "big brother" the Avalanche took with their third jersey, changed the concept with the team name and number on the front as opposed to using either our primary mark or our secondary mark (which most people have become averse to). Coincidently, the Dallas Stars wore a very similar jersey yesterday in their game against the Avs. We added the tie downs on the front neck, used the primary mark on the shoulders and used the mountains that have become the signature of our current uniforms. I happen to love the black jerseys and think that we accomplished everything we were going for with them. Could they have been better, of course, could they have been worse, of course, its all about taste, some like, some don't. The feedback that we received was that most people absolutely loved them, the players didn't want to let them go to auction!!!
As everyone knows, RBK is our uniform supplier, and have been for the past three years. What some people don't know is that Projoy is their contracted manufacturer. We have had our jerseys manufactured by Projoy from day one in Colorado, we have a great relationship with them and I love working with their people. I also want to assure everyone that the quality of the jerseys are exactly the same as day one, RBK did not change one thing when we started going through them to work with Projoy, the material and manufacturing process are identical to when we first started.
The only thing that has changed for us working with RBK is the process for ordering jerseys. When we worked with Projoy, even back to the Washington Power days, I could order jerseys in November for delivery to game one in December, along with the replicas for merchandise sales!!! We can't do that now, RBK is so big and does so many uniforms that our ordering process is done in March for the following season. It makes it difficult for great ideas like the black out night to be generated and produced during off season meetings. We would have to spend time now planning for next season, we try to do that but let me tell you its just not that easy when you are focused on today!!!
When we found out that other things were falling into place with our sponsors and the dasherboards, we special ordered the black out jerseys in January a couple of months ago, it was only through my very good relationship with Projoy and RBK that we were able to pull any of it off in this short time frame. The restriction because of timing was that there could be no run of replicas and only a total of 75 authentics, that are all game jerseys with exact stitching for each letter on the front and the numbers as well as numbers and names on the back. Projoy's production lines are booked months in advance so in order to pull something off and run ours there had to be a limit to the amount, obviously manufacturing jerseys takes time, each one limits their opportunity to produce other things that they are contracted for. This was an unavoidable situation because of our timing, this had nothing to do with a screw up with RBK or Projoy, both were very accomadating and outstanding to work with.
Of course we would have loved to have more, but in the eargerness to present the black out we wanted to turn a negative into a positive and create these jerseys as a Limited Edition Third Jersey. Each one would be customized, the stitching is exactly the same as the game worn jerseys (this adds some cost in the jersey construction, done expertly by our friends at Denver Athletic).
Simple supply and demand would dictate that a higher price for this limited edition, customized jersey was not outrageous. Never was this an attempt to gouge our very loyal fans but there is an "exclusive" nature to having on of these numbered first run, limited uniforms. Our job here is to sell merchandise, we felt this was the best way to do it considering the circumstances. From a simple business perspective, based on the fact that 30 jerseys sold out in 10 minutes perhaps we underestimated the demaind and didn't price them high enough.
Scott, on to your issue. When Josh Gross, inadvertently and quite innocently revealed the third jersey concept in the broadcast on Saturday, January 26th, it created a whirlwind of interest. We had never intended to discuss it at all. We wanted it to be a complete surprise during the intros of last Saturday's game. We would announce the on sale and what we had would go on sale at halftime as planned. Once it was out of the bag, we remained solid on our game plan. Through the many posts and questions I have remained silent in an effort to stick to the plan, as it were. I am sure you all know how much that killed me!!!
Once the word was out, I was asked by two people if they could get their hands on those jerseys. Voodoo asked me as he was walking into Blue Sky Grill after a game and Spike asked me inside Blue Sky Grill after another game if he could get one for him and his good friend Ronin when he was telling me about his plans to attend the All Star game. Both asked me before the real buzz began about the jerseys themselves, prior to the calls to the Altitude Authentics store discussing the quantity and price.
The people that work in the store were asked not to share information but unfortunately did. Again, we were attempting to create some drama in the jersey's release. That information created a fervor last week that I was forced to sit back and watch. At the end of the day, the circumstances did create passionate response from our fans, good and bad.
Either way, when these two people asked for the jerseys, I had no idea if we would even sell one, so when someone asks about something you are trying to move you don't say no. I have had a very long standing relationship with Spike, I gave him his nickname (it wasn't that much of a stretch if you had seen his hair six years ago) at the first or second game in Mammoth history while I was doing a radio interview in the grand atrium. Now I am sure this could be argued, but Spike was the first Mammoth fan that I had ever seen paint his face, I have always been very impressed with this. This could also be argued but he and Ronin, to my knowledge, coined the phrase "tar pit", a place in the lacrosse world that has become synonymous with the Mammoth and our passionate fans.
Voodoo has also been a tremendous supporter, he stepped up when I asked for him to be a moderater on this site, he has met with me about a fan club (an idea that I would like to continue to pursue). He has always taken time out of his busy post game schedule to share with me his thoughts on the game and the team, and he has never pulled a punch with me. I always enjoy our chats, and he always seeks me out to say hello and shake my hand. Certainly, most would agree he has evolved as the defacto face of Mammoth Nation. This is obviously not to say that he is the most important Mammoth fan, he just might be the most visible.
These three jerseys were asked for and I said yes, very simple. I agreed that I would set aside three for them. Had someone else asked I would have done the same for them, they asked.
Because the customization was always part of the purchase price, I had our people find out what names and numbers they would want on theirs. It was a gesture of good will to those three that we would have the customization done along with our game jerseys. It actually saved us money. I thought it would be a nice touch that we had them done at half time, so that they could put them on for the remainder of the game.
So in closing, I apologize again that this upset you. The only reason they rendered special services is because they asked me and I said yes. I don't think it was wrong to have them customized early, especially since we knew who was going to have them and what they wanted on them, when this was part of the purchase price anyway, it was my attempt to do something nice for them.
This was not a measurement of anyone's fandom, it was not a contest to as to who is the greater fan, it was quite simply trying to be accomadating to people who have shown support to the organization and to me personally. I happen to know these guys only because they have made themselves known to me. By the way, KBPI didn't pay for those two fans to attend the championship game, the Mammoth did, KBPI just ran the contest, hopefully this isn't resented because they received special treatment.
Actions speak louder than words, and I hope my actions over the course of the last 6 years have proven at least a little that every fan is special and important. If not for the outstanding fans of the Mammoth we are not even close to the success that we are, and I thank you fans every day.
I apologize to any of those people that took offense to the gesture, it was certainly never intended to offend.