John McDonough (sports executive)

John McDonough (sports executive)

For other people named John McDonough, see John McDonough (disambiguation).
John McDonough
Born John McDonough
1953 (age 60–61)
Chicago, Illinois
Occupation President & CEO of the Chicago Blackhawks

John McDonough (born 1953) is a sports executive who is perhaps best known for his two decades with the Chicago Cubs. In 2007, he left the presidency of the Cubs to become president of the Chicago Blackhawks. On June 1, 2011, McDonough was promoted to President and CEO of the Blackhawks. He specializes in the area of marketing.

Personal life

McDonough is a lifelong Chicago area resident, graduating from Notre Dame High School in Niles, Illinois before matriculating to Saint Mary's University in Winona, Minnesota. McDonough and his wife Karen are parents of three children: Colleen, Ryan (Katie) and Michael.

Professional career

Chicago Sting

McDonough's first work as a sports executive was with the Chicago Sting, Chicago's franchise in the North American Soccer League (NASL). He served as General Sales Manager, and later as Vice President of Sales and Marketing. McDonough was also a member of the front office when the Sting won the 1981 NASL Soccer Bowl Championship.

Chicago Cubs

McDonough spent 24 years with the Cubs (1983–2007). During his tenure with the team, the Cubs set numerous attendance records, setting an all-time mark in 2007, when McDonough was team president. In McDonough’s time as Cubs president, the franchise saw great success both on and off the field, winning the 2007 National League Central title.

One of the major innovations McDonough is credited with is the annual "Cubs Convention" which gives fans a chance to meet and interact with coaches, players and licensed vendors. Debuting in 1985, this was the first event of its kind in sports and is now viewed as a prototype for professional team and league fan festivals.

He also is credited with creating the role of "guest conductor", where celebrities, local heroes, and local high school sports champions are given the chance to lead the singing of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch at Cubs home games. The promotion started in the wake of the death of broadcaster Harry Caray in 1998, and continues as a tradition today.

Chicago Blackhawks

In 2007, McDonough left the Cubs and became president of the Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago's National Hockey League franchise. In his tenure with the team, the Blackhawks have moved quickly to revitalize the team’s profile and fan base, in what Forbes Magazine called “The Greatest Sports-Business Turnaround Ever.” Most importantly, the Blackhawks won the 2010 Stanley Cup championship, the franchise’s first since 1961, with McDonough guiding the organization, and another Stanley Cup title in 2013.

Upon his arrival to the Blackhawks, McDonough welcomed back Hall of Famers Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Tony Esposito as team ambassadors, and helped foster a landmark partnership with WGN Television and Comcast SportsNet which allowed all 82 regular-season games to be broadcast on television for the first time in team history. The Blackhawks also announced a partnership with Chicago’s WGN Radio 720 to become the team’s new radio broadcast rightsholder.

McDonough was also instrumental in bringing the NHL Winter Classic 2009 to Chicago, a contest which matched up the Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings in front of 40,818 at Wrigley Field on January 1, 2009. The game drew an 11.8 overnight rating and a 21 share on NBC in Chicago, making it the most-watched NHL game in almost 34 years.

The Blackhawks franchise has undergone an enormous transformation under McDonough’s leadership; since 2007, the team’s season ticketholder base has more than tripled, and the Blackhawks have sold out 240 straight home contests, leading the league in average attendance each season since 2008-09. In less than two years since McDonough’s arrival, the Blackhawks organization jumped from 118th (2007) to 16th (2010) in ESPN Magazine’s Ultimate Standings. The organization’s ranking marked the best among Chicago’s professional sports teams. In 2012, a survey of SportsBusiness Journal readers voted the Blackhawks the NHL team for which they'd most like to work.

Other work

  • Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International: Advisory Board of Directors (Illinois Chapter)
  • Northwestern University: Master of Arts in Sports Administration Faculty Advisory Board



  • John McDonough biography at Blackhawks website
Preceded by
Andy MacPhail
Chicago Cubs President
Succeeded by
Crane Kenney (as Chairman)