LOWELL -- His dream of becoming a professional sports broadcaster died his first year out of Clemson University.
“I quickly realized I didn't have a famous father and I wasn't a former player. When you take those people out of the equation there's probably about 10 percent left,” Kevin Cummings said.
But the 40-year-old Cummings has enjoyed a successful sports career -- on the management side.
Yesterday, he was hired by Lowell Lock Monsters owner Elkin McCallum to become the hockey team's president, replacing Brian Martin, Lowell High School's new athletic director.
“Although some progress was made under Brian Martin's leadership, it was not enough to turn the Lock Monsters into a viable business,” McCallum said in a statement.
“The naming of Kevin Cummings as my new president along with his 15 years of experience in professional sports affords me the best opportunity to turn around this franchise,” McCallum added.
During its seven-year history, Lowell has struggled to average more than 4,100 fans per game in 6,500-seat Tsongas Arena.
Cummings is quite familiar with the American Hockey League. From 2002-04, he served as the executive vice president of the Worcester IceCats. In April 2004, he became Worcester's chief operating officer. This was Worcester's last season in the AHL, as the St. Louis Blues are moving their top affiliate to Peoria, Ill.
“The timing of everything worked out. We're excited about it,” he said. “I'm certainly familiar with the Lock Monsters. I've always been a big fan of the arena. It's a good size. One of the things we struggled with in Worcester -- not that there's anything wrong with the building -- was the building was too big.
“I think there's a lot of potential (in Lowell). There's some good opportunities there to improve the performance of the team off the ice and make it something that people in Lowell can be proud of.”
Cummings declined to reveal contract details.
Cummings said the Lowell and Worcester markets are “probably very similar. A lot of times both markets are going to be in the shadow of the Boston market. The challenge is getting (fans) out there, getting them out to sample the AHL.”
“Priority one is no different in Lowell than any market and that's season tickets. That's the lifeblood of any organization and that's going to be the long-term success of it. There's no magic formula and no magic fix. We need to convince people that it's a high level of hockey,” Cummings said. “I don't know if there's a magic number. A lot will depend on how we increase revenues. It's going to take a little while.”
Cummings said he and McCallum are “committed” to the franchise.
“We're going to do what it takes to be successful,” he said.
What is Cummings' attendance goal for Lowell?
“It's almost too early to tell. The one thing that Elkin wants us to do is be creative, to find ways to get people in, get them season tickets, and get the community to rally behind the team,” he said. “It's always better when they're winning. It's not a lot of fun to go to the arena or ballpark when the team is losing.”
On the move early on
Cummings and his wife Chris live in Rutland, Mass., an hour or so drive from Lowell, with their sons Jake, 5, and Chris, one month old.
The son of a Navy employee, Cummings was born in Italy. He lived in Virginia, Maryland, Staten Island, Mississippi and Italy again before the family settled in New Jersey.
After six years of management in minor league baseball -- five with Sarasota, a Boston Red Sox affiliate, and one with Mobile, named Baseball America's Minor League Team of the Year that season -- Cummings made his foray into minor league hockey in Illinois with the Rockford IceHogs of the United Hockey League.
“I've always been a hockey fan. It was a lot of fun,” he said of his time in Rockford. “We were there for 10 months before the first game was even played. It really does take a bit of time to get fan interest where you want it. We always did really well even though we had lousy teams. The corporate support and season ticket support was really strong.”