With McDonough’s leadership, the Blackhawks’ success has been recognized by SportsBusiness Journal, earning coveted nominations for the publication’s Professional Sports Team of the Year in 2009 and 2014. The organization was also voted to have the “Best Business Savvy” by The Hockey News’ 2012 “Best of Everything in Hockey” issue, in addition to being named “Best Franchise” in their 2014 “Franchise Ranking” issue.
The Blackhawks have entertained 391 consecutive capacity crowds at the United Center and have grown a season ticketholder base from 3,400 to more than 14,000. Additionally, the Blackhawks have led the NHL in attendance for eight consecutive seasons and consistently achieve monumental viewership numbers on local and national broadcasts. During the team’s run to the 2015 Stanley Cup, the Blackhawks registered three of their top five most-watched games, including the highest on record, a 41.0 HH average rating during Game 6 of the Final on June 15, 2015.
McDonough has been instrumental in bringing marquee events to Chicago, including the 2009 NHL Winter Classic between the Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field, the 2014 Stadium Series game between the Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field, the NCAA Frozen Four in April 2017 and the NHL Draft in June 2017. In addition, he instituted the annual Blackhawks Convention, the first of its kind in the National Hockey League.
Prior to joining the Blackhawks, McDonough served as President of the Chicago Cubs. During his tenure, the Cubs won the 2007 National League Central Division while setting an all-time franchise attendance record. As the Cubs’ chief, and in his previous role as Senior Vice President of Marketing and Broadcasting, he played a major role in increasing the Cubs’ fan base and attracting sponsorships, helping one of the most successful professional sports franchises in America consistently reach record attendance and revenue figures. In addition, McDonough was the architect of the seventh-inning stretch celebrity “guest conductor” concept at Wrigley Field and created the annual Cubs Convention, which is now viewed as a prototype for team and league fan festivals.
McDonough’s many achievements have earned him honors and awards, including Major League Baseball’s Marketing Excellence Award, Chicago Baseball Executive of the Year and a place in “America’s Top Ten Marketing Executives” by Promo Magazine. In addition, McDonough was named to The Hockey News’ “100 People of Power and Influence,” was inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame in 2008 and received the first-ever honorary Certified Hockey Professional designation by the Business of Hockey Institute in 2016.
He has also been recognized with the Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Presidential Medal for Outstanding Merit, the Bill Veeck Lifetime Achievement Award, a place in the Notre Dame High School Hall of Fame and the 2008 Executive of the Year Award by the Chicago chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. McDonough serves as a frequent guest speaker and panelist across the country, including at the 2010 MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, the 2014 SXSW Conference and Harvard Business School. He has also served as commencement speaker for the Loyola University School of Communication and Grand Marshal for Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 2014.
McDonough is a frequent lecturer at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business and Northwestern University. He serves as a Sustaining Board Member for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Illinois Board, and also sits on the Athletic Advisory Board of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, the Special Olympics Illinois Foundation Board, Chicago Blackhawks Charities Board of Directors, the NHL Club Business Advisory Board and the NHL Board of Governors.
A Chicago native, McDonough is a graduate of Notre Dame High School in Niles, Ill., and Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. He currently resides in the western suburbs and has three children, Colleen, Ryan (Katie) and Michael; and a granddaughter, Riley.