Live from Meet Business Management


Wireless service has been tough today, so the Scouting and Business panels were typed up while they happened and posted soon after.

Representatives from all over the Cubs’ business operations are here to address fans’ questions and present some new details about the ballpark. Carl Rice (ballpark operations), Jahaan Blake (fan experiences), Alex Sugarman (business development), Colin Faulkner (ticket operations), Wally Hayward (chief marketing officer), Mike Lufrano (community affairs) and Crane Kenney (president of business operations) are here.

Wrap-up: Wow, a lot of announcements, including perhaps a couple missed in the opening minutes coming over from the scouting session. There’s a ton of work going on under the hood, and it’s really going to near fruit in 2012. Keep an eye out in Vine Line for more details!

4:35 – Beginning June 25, an eight-week baseball camp for local communities! Students will be invited out to the ballpark for photos, player meet-ups and more. Keep an eye out!

4:30 – The Cubs are trying to focus on the younger generation, the next generation of Cubs fans, with their renovations. Also, the team, as part of the Commissioner’s Initiative, makes available discounted tickets for kids and other groups. It’s a focus that has really been reignited under the Ricketts family, which talked some in the last session about all having kids themselves.

Total on last year’s grants to nonprofits and other community efforts: $1.8 million.

4:26 – In the rare instance where the fan experience isn’t pleasant because of other fans, the Cubs have a procedure in place to deal with the issues. This year, all Wrigley Field personnel will be trained on the same platform of dealing with it and responses will be faster.

In addition to the AT&T improvements this offseason, Rice says that sound will be improved in the upper deck and security infrastructure will be improved.

4:24 – NEWS ALERT: The Cubs will experiment with dynamic pricing in the Budweiser Bleachers this year. The earlier you buy your ticket, the less expensive it will be — essentially the price rises as the inventory decreases. Faulkner explains it’s a good thing for season ticket holders, who buy the earliest.

4:21 – A season ticket holder asks about the resale market, and a discussion about Stubhub (and other potential future options) ensues.

While we’re on the topic, the lectern reminds me that 9-Game Packs go on sale next Friday! Improved options to buy the summer’s hottest games. Another area where fan feedback came into play after last year’s 13-game packages.

4:17 – 2014 plans (regarding the wider renovations). The Budweiser Patio will be ready by Opening Day. Renovations will be targeted at restoring the ballpark to its aesthetic peak, in 1936. (Notably, that surely doesn’t include the interior of the park, as the ivy, bleachers and scoreboard were added in 1937). The team thinks that work may extend beyond 2014 with the hope of an All-Star Game soon after. The Budweiser Patio was possible now because it was in a self-contained area.

4:09 – The Cubs this winter once again turned to an analytical model that looked at all ticket transactions, and they also looked through a second lens considering fan feedback. They decidEd to keep all season tickets flat, with decreases in the bleachers. 25 percent of tickets are under $25, targeted to families. Kenney reemphasizes that the Ricketts family has pledged to not take any money out of the team but rather to reinvest every dollar back into the organization.

4:08 – Tours have been a big addition/expanded effort at Wrigley Field. 2012 tours are already available and they’re nearly daily once the weather gets nice. The Cubs also added educational tours and others targets at school groups. Also, Living Legend Tours with former players leading the way.

4:05 – A neighbor makes a plea for more community events. Neighbors day, special ticket offers (for concerts, movie night and more) are some of the initiatives the team will continue.

3:56 – The Budweiser Patio will not change the distance to right field. Also, the lot purchased by the Ricketts family across Clark has been asked about. It’s going to be a complementary piece to the 81 game experience, says Kenney. Also, restaurants, family options and other amenities will be a part of it going forward, with input from the neighborhood and alderman. Fan feedback already collected will help inform where this goes.

3:55 – First pitches are explained. Sponsors, community initiatives, celebrities get the bulk of them. There may be one available April 25 at the second annual Bricks and Ivy Ball. (Hint.)

3:52 – Social media is brought up. Well, there’s @Cubs — recently merged with the team’s old Cubs Insider account. Sugarman gets a huge cheer from an adjacent room after that one. The whole area is a crucial part of the team’s core goals this year. Follow along! (And follow us!)

Also there will be improvements in WiFi and cell reception this year thanks to a partnership with AT&T. Oh, and two social media games are planned this year.

3:51 – Sugarman is talking about the use of analytics in the business side — it’s not just for the new baseball folks. Blake’s group has been collecting a lot of data, and the Cubs are mining the data to ensure that fan feedback is a core part of Wrigley Field’s future. This includes fan amenities, family options, concessions and others.

3:45 – Here’s the new Budweiser Patio in right field, turned into an improved group area from the old bleacher box. It incorporates a new LED board that will provide much more information than the ballpark’s scoreboard can by itself.


3:40 – An informal vote is taken after a fan suggests switching up the seventh inning stretch. Kenney mentions the proposal of playing a recording of Harry Caray. There’s a slight majority for keeping it the way it is as opposed to going only to a recording, though it seems a compromise between the two got the most support.

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