It appears now that the dust has settled on the tattoo front in Sioux Falls. While not arising to the level of a “Tattoo-Gate”, the situation did present a bit of a public/fan relations problem for the new owners of the American Association’s Sioux Falls Canaries, now known as the Sioux Falls Fighting Pheasants.
As you recall, Sioux Falls Sports, LLC led by president and CEO Gary Weckwerth purchased the Canaries franchise from the Goldklang Group back in December. Weckworth and company immediately got to work on a rebranding campaign and announced in February that the team name was being changed to the Fighting Pheasants. The new name and logo was met with positive reviews by some to anger by the hard cores who had been loyal followers of the Canaries since the team was launched in 1993. Some of these fans went as far as to get a tattoo of the team logo on their person as part of a fan promotion offered by the franchise in 2004. By getting a team tattoo, the seven to ten fans who took the plunge were promised a free general admission ticket for life to all Canaries home games. Some of these fans used the value of the general admission tickets as a discount on the purchase of season tickets.
When informed of this tattoo promotion, the new owners chose not to honor the contracts. In an Argus Leader article on Feb. 18, Weckworth was quoted as saying, “We bought a business and that business came with contracts – that was not a contract we knew anything about,” he said. “I have to pay bills. It costs money to run teams. This is our business philosophy running a hockey team, too. We don’t just give away tickets. Not to say that they don’t deserve them, but that was made with the older ownership.” Weckworth seemed to stick to his guns when he appeared with Argus Leader Sports Editor Stu Whitney and Mike Henriksen, host of Sportmax Radio, on the Argus Leader’s Sports Web Live. Watch video here . (Click on the On Demand feature for the show on Feb. 24).
Since this time, we have been informed that the parties have talked and the Pheasants are now going to honor the tattoo contracts. This is welcome news and a wise business move. While the Canaries loyalists might not become Phanatic Pheasants Phans right away, they will still be at every game, bringing with them friends, family members, and money to spend.