GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Rapids Griffins President Tim Gortsema has been named the 2017-18 recipient of the American Hockey League’s James C. Hendy Memorial Award, which is given annually to the league’s outstanding executive.
AHL President and CEO David Andrews presented the award to Gortsema Thursday evening at a gala reception during the Board of Governors’ Annual Meeting at Hilton Head Island, S.C.
A member of the Griffins’ original 1995 staff, Gortsema began directing the team’s business operations in February 2007, was promoted from senior vice president to president in June 2015, and has overseen tremendous growth during his tenure. The Griffins drew more than 300,000 fans to Van Andel Arena for the fifth consecutive season in 2017-18 (302,471; 7,960 avg.) and finished second in average attendance during the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs (7,273) despite playing only three weekday, first-round home games.
Grand Rapids led the AHL in partial-plan ticket sales last season while ranking among the league’s leaders in all other major ticket revenue categories, including full-season plans, group sales, individual ticket sales and total ticket sales. Under Gortsema’s leadership, the organization also set a franchise record for corporate sales, and it continues to be at the forefront of community relations efforts and digital and social media practices, including pacing the AHL in both Facebook and Snapchat followers.
Gortsema was also involved in the renewal of the Griffins’ affiliation agreement with the Detroit Red Wings last summer, and he oversaw the operation and rebranding of the organization’s second community ice rink, Griff’s IceHouse West in Holland, Mich. As he prepares for his 23rd season with the club, Gortsema continues to be involved in all other facets of the team’s business operations, including finance and administration, marketing, public relations, arena advertising, and Griff’s IceHouse at Belknap Park.
Gortsema, who in 2011 received the Griffins’ inaugural Founders “Overtime” Award for his career contributions to the organization, earned his bachelor’s degree from Hope College and his MBA from Western Michigan University.
The James C. Hendy Memorial Award is named for the late Jim Hendy, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and AHL Hall of Fame and long-time statistician and historian for the AHL who won four Calder Cups as general manager of the Cleveland Barons.