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Ciszewski named executive VP of sales

Former Pistons' VP to focus on Wings, Tigers and Olympia Entertainment

Wednesday, 03.31.2010 / 10:13 AM / News
Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – The hiring of John Ciszewski as executive vice president of sales was announced today by Tom Wilson, president and CEO of sports and entertainment properties across the Ilitch companies. The appointment is effective immediately.

Ciszewski (sih-zoo-ski) was most recently executive vice president of sales for Palace Sports and Entertainment (PSE). In his new post within the Ilitch organization, Ciszewski will report directly to Wilson. Staff and reporting relationships to Ciszewski will be determined at a later date, but his focus will be on working with the Red Wings, Detroit Tigers and Olympia Entertainment properties to help take the fan, season ticket holder and suite owner’s game day and on-going relationship experience to an even higher level.

“We are extremely fortunate to be adding a person of John’s caliber, creativity and commitment to our already excellent customer sales and service staffs,” Wilson said. “With the vision for growth that Christopher Ilitch and his parents have for this organization, it is essential that we assemble the best team possible to capitalize on these growth opportunities and, most important, to make every element of the fan experience at all of our sports and entertainment venues the best in the industry.

“I had the privilege of working with John for nearly 32 years with the Pistons and Palace,” Wilson added. “He is one of the finest individuals I have ever known or worked with. There are many facets to John’s success, but two essential aspects stand above the rest – his passion for developing his fellow employees, and John and his team’s collective laser-like focus on making sure that fans of all levels feel like valued members of the team.”

During his PSE and Pistons’ career, Ciszewski and his sales team achieved many milestones, among them:

• Seven consecutive years of leading the 32-team National Basketball Association in paid ticket sales.
• 622 sellouts in the first 20 years of the Palace, including sellout streaks of 245 and 259 consecutive games, respectively.
• Record season ticket sales for the DTE Energy Music Theatre, which was voted the No. 1 amphitheater in the country the past 19 years, and the Best Outdoor Concert Venue in 2000.

“I feel very fortunate to have worked with such a class organization and family as the Pistons and the Davidsons,” said Ciszewski, 55. “I feel equally fortunate to now have a similar opportunity with another iconic sports and entertainment organization and the Ilitches. I know there are great employees and a loyal fan base already in place with the Wings, Tigers and Olympia Entertainment. I hope to come in and help make it even better, and to work with Christopher, Tom, and the outstanding leadership team and colleagues to help us accomplish even more – all the while serving our fans and customers better than anyone else.”

Some of the customer service innovations that Ciszewski and his team put in place over the years with the Pistons and Palace, and now followed throughout the NBA, included:

• Personal customer service reps assigned to each season ticket and suite holder.
• Concierge service, including personalized parking, for season ticket holders.
• Suite holder sharing plans for mid-size companies.
• “All In” arena staff process whereby ushers, ticket takers, concession workers and security staff were engaged in the renewal process for season ticket holders.
• “Off the court” events like bowling parties, fashion shows and charity events whereby season ticket holders engaged with former players and staff.

“In this or any other business, it all starts with treating your fans like special guests in your home,” Ciszewski said. “To do that, though, you need to have a great team of dedicated employees with the same mindset. For all that we accomplished, the thing I’m most proud of in my career is that more than 50 of my fellow team members have moved on as sales managers, directors or vice presidents for other professional teams in all of the major sports leagues.

“Take care of your people and your fans – and everything else will fall in place,” Ciszewski added. “I’m excited about this new opportunity because I know the Ilitch organization and my new colleagues feel the same way.”

Ciszewski and his wife, Denise, have five daughters and reside in Lake Orion, Mich. Originally from Shadyside, Ohio, Ciszewski has a bachelor’s degree from Bethany College in West Virginia, and a master’s degree in sports administration from Ohio University. He is also active in coaching AAU youth sports, is a member of the Knights of Columbus, and serves as a board member for Northwood University.


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