Results tagged ‘ Crane Kenney ’

2016 Cubs Convention: Business Operations Update

The business operations of the Chicago Cubs continues to deliver growth for the long-term success of the organization. At this panel, fans heard directly from Cubs business executives on initiatives underway to grow revenue, enhance the fan experience and support the Wrigleyville community. Fans also received an update on the progress of the 1060 Project.

Crane Kenney leads off with an update on what the organization accomplished in 2015 and says he will look ahead at what’s happening next year and beyond.

He begins by thanking the fans for their support through this process of restoring Wrigley Field. The fans have stuck with the team through good and bad.

The decision to play at Wrigley Field while restoring it was like flying a plane while you’re building it. It was a difficult process. They knew they would be opposed by the alderman, rooftops, etc. They appreciate the way the fans stuck with them.

The Cubs asked for your patience last year and will ask for it again in the coming years. The plaza and office building will be built during the 2016 season. Work on the western gate will go on throughout the season and be completed by end of season.

The greatest thing the Ricketts family has done for the team is to give each department time. Owners are thinking about the organization in the long term. This isn’t a rush job. The philosophy is to make sure things are done right.

Patience needs to be rewarded, and the Cubs feel like they’ve made a bit of a down payment on some of the fans’ patience with the success last season. Kenney celebrates some of the teams’ on-field accomplishments. He also talks a bit about bringing Ryne Sandberg back into the family.

Kenney celebrates the success of the video boards and talks about how the fans have accepted them. He speaks a little about the new partnership with CBS Radio and ABC-TV. This allows them to reach a greater audience in Chicago. Their average rating was the same as TBS got for the NLCS broadcasts.

Paid attendance increased by 300,000 at Wrigley Field. Season ticket holders just renewed at a 98 percent clip. They also broke a spring training attendance record at Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona. And spring training sales have already doubled so far this year.

Kenney gives a big shout out to Cubs Charities and the work they do in the community.

The 1060 Project has been one of the largest job creators in the state in the past year. Kenney runs through the work they did on the park and shows a video recapping the progress. They’re now budgeting for shorter offseason work schedules to accommodate postseason play. That gets some applause. This will likely make the project more expensive, and it will take a little longer.

This season, the left-field terrace seats are being replaced.

The new clubhouse is progressing and will be ready by opening day. It will be one of the largest in baseball and the most expensive in history. Another video gives a sneak peek on the work. Phase 2 is more about steel structure in the stadium for the fans and the new player facilities. The new player spaces are 30,000 square feet.

Work on both the new plaza and hotel will be ongoing during the 2016 season.

Kenney says they are close to completing their journey from worst to first in terms of player facilities. He then shows pictures of the plan for the new plaza on the west side of the ballpark. This new plaza will be ready for opening day 2017.

The Cubs just announced the acquisition of three new rooftops. They also launched WrigleyRooftops.com for fans looking to book the rooftops.

They are also working on the center field bleachers to finish that part of the project. They’re bringing back the planters boxes from decades ago. There will also be an interactive history display on the bleacher concourse.

The new concert schedule at Wrigley Field includes James Taylor, Billy Joel and Luke Bryan. The concert business is a major contributor to the Cubs bottom line and has helped them grow their payroll. But the priority is still keeping the field ready for play.

The majority of the Friday afternoon games will be 1:20 starts this year. They are forgoing the 3:05 starts in 2015. Joe Maddon wanted more consistency with game time starts.

Kenney then opens the floor to questions. He is joined by Colin Faulkner, Alex Sugarman, Alison Miller and Carl Rice.

Carl Rice talks about how the mild winter weather has helped them with the construction season. Plus the project is not as exposed to the elements this year. A lot of the work is enclosed.

 There will be increased security measures in MLB this year. Kenney says how seriously they take security. There will be metal detectors this season to protect players, fans, etc. The Cubs have asked the city for help protect the stadium by extending their perimeter of control. They wouldn’t own that space, they would just know which cars, etc. are traveling there. The Cubs ask that you plan to give yourself more time to get into the ballpark this year.

 They will be extending the protective netting at the ballpark this year.

 A fan asks why Ernie Banks wasn’t more prominent at this convention. Kenney says they probably should have had a moment of silence.

 Kenney and Faulkner talk a bit about digital ticketing. More fans seem to prefer digital tickets to standard paper tickets.

 Season ticket holders will have a chance to purchase their old seats that have been removed and replaced. The Cubs will reach out to season ticket holders about this.

 A fan asks about the increase in season ticket prices. Ticket prices stayed flat during the lean years. The goal is to put as many resources as possible into the Cubs three primary goals for the organization. They looked at data, talked to fans. It was a tough decision, but the right one.

 The pavers that were removed are all being replaced. They are in place right now (but covered) and will be unveiled on opening day.

 In the long run, the Cubs would like to close off Sheffield as a pedestrian mall like they do at Fenway. It’s not a high priority right now.

2015 Cubs Convention: Cubs Business Operations Update

In addition to providing an update on the organization’s accomplishments and progress, the Business Operations Update gave fans additional insight into what to expect at Wrigley Field next season. From the overall expansion and restoration of Wrigley Field to the new video board, Cubs executive leadership covered a wide range of important topics related to the 2015 season.

All great plans have minor setbacks. That may be the case for the 2015 plans of the extensive 1060 Project, the stadium-wide renovation of Wrigley Field. During Saturday afternoon’s business panel, a panel that continued its trend of being one of the most attended, the Cubs announced that the bleacher restoration will not be ready for the start of the 2015 season.

The left-field bleachers are expected to be ready in early May while the right-field bleachers hope to be prepared by late May. That said, the new scoreboard in left field will be up and running come Opening Day, while the scoreboard in right field should be ready in May.

Bleacher season-ticket holders have been given three options on their tickets for the first few series: receive a credit on their account, relocation on tickets, or a full refund on the game tickets. Those fans have until the end of January to let the Cubs know of their decision.

“This is about trying to get this project done right instead of cutting corners,” said Carl Rice, the vice president of ballpark operations.

It wasn’t all bad news from the panel, as business president Crane Kenney announced the Cubs have more season ticket holders today than any time in the organization’s history, and could possibly have the most in the league. Season ticket renewals were also at 90 percent.

Though there may be a delay in the 2015 plans, the Cubs’ concourse restoration has actually made 2016 renovation plans ahead of schedule. The 2015 delay has also not slowed plans for new clubhouse construction, which was planned to be finished prior to 2016. The organization plans to work all season long to ensure its completion.

“We’re getting ahead of next year’s project, now,” Kenney said.

In terms of the new video boards, the panel unveiled what types of graphics and images would be displayed going forward. Concepts were divided into five categories: game replays, in-game stats, historical videos of the club, in-season team videos and other scores around baseball. Though the new video boards will be nothing short of state of the art, the Cubs intend to have the text graphics look similar to the historic scoreboard in center field. The Cubs showed simulations as to what the scoreboard would look like on an in-game basis. They’ll combine the classic look with some some full-color animated images. They wanted to remind people the purpose of the boards is to enhance the game-day experience, not detract.

With the new TV deals, some fans are concerned they’ll be blacked out for a vast majority of Cubs games in the near future. Kenney said the team is willing to contact outlets like MLB.TV, should something not be worked out.

The Cubs and ABC7 strike a TV rights partnership deal

The Chicago Cubs and WLS-TV/ABC 7 Chicago today announced a historic partnership for television rights to Cubs games. For the first time in the 68-year television broadcast history of the Cubs, baseball games will air on ABC 7. Starting in April 2015, the channel will air 25 games per year through the 2019 season in primetime, daytime and on weekends.

“We are excited to have WLS-TV as our new television broadcast partner,” said President of Business Operations Crane Kenney. “WLS-TV has established itself as a trusted voice in Chicago, and we look forward to a new chapter of Cubs baseball airing on the flagship station of the ABC television network.”

WLS-TV echoed the Cubs’ excitement and said they are looking forward to this new beginning with the organization.

“ABC 7 is thrilled to be a part of this new chapter for the Chicago Cubs organization, and we welcome Cubs fans to the No. 1 station in Chicago,” said John Idler, president and general manager of ABC 7. “Like all Cubs fans, we are eager to celebrate the 2015 Chicago Cubs.”

Kenney added the Cubs will soon announce the home for the team’s remaining games not currently under contract to ABC 7 or Comcast SportsNet, ensuring all Cubs games will be on the air in Chicago next season.

“We will complete our broadcast realignment shortly, allowing every Cubs fan in Chicago the opportunity to watch every game of what we believe will be an exciting and competitive season,” he said.

Now Playing: Cubs ring in the holidays with 100 Gifts of Service

The Cubs welcomed the Lake View community to their annual tree-lighting ceremony Thursday to celebrate the holidays and conclude the team’s 100 Gifts of Service initiative. The 100 Gifts of Service projects were part of a yearlong program featuring Cubs players and associates engaging in community service in celebration of Wrigley Field’s 100th birthday season. Hall of Fame pitcher Fergie Jenkins was on hand along with Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, Cubs Charities Chair Laura Ricketts, President of Business Operations Crane Kenney and representatives from many of the organizations that benefited from the team’s charitable acts this year. The large tree, donated by Christy Webber Landscapes, is located in front of the Cubs Store at the northwest corner of the Clark and Addison intersection. We were at Wrigley Field last night to help ring in the holiday season. And look for a feature story on the 100 Gifts of Service project in the January issue of Vine Line.

Now Playing: Broadcaster Jim Deshaies makes his Wrigley debut

Say goodbye to Len and Bob, and say hello to Len and JD. The Cubs welcomed new television analyst and former major league pitcher Jim Deshaies to the broadcast booth Wednesday morning in a press conference at Wrigley Field’s United Club. Deshaies, who recently completed his 16th season as an analyst for the Astros, said it was hard to leave Houston but that he couldn’t turn down what he considers the best broadcasting job in baseball.

“It’s going to be so much fun to be in a city where baseball matters no matter how the team is doing,’’ Deshaies said. “This place is a baseball-mad environment. The Astro guy had a hard time leaving Houston, but the baseball guy said this is the place to be.”

Deshaies set to join Kasper in Cubs broadcast booth

Houston Astros

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Monday night, WGN-TV and the Chicago Cubs announced that former Houston Astros broadcaster Jim Deshaies has agreed to a four-year contract to join Len Kasper in the booth as the television analyst for Cubs broadcasts on WGN-TV, Comcast SportsNet and WCIU-TV.

Deshaies, who pitched 12 years in the major leagues and seven with the Astros, joins the Cubs broadcast team after serving as an analyst for Houston since 1997.

“After spending the last 16 seasons with the Houston Astros, it will be a very tough organization and fan base to leave. However, I can’t imagine anywhere else I’d rather move than with the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field,” Deshaies said. “My family and I look forward to meeting the great, passionate fans of the Cubs and we’re excited at what lies ahead in Chicago.”

Deshaies has a good reputation in the business as a strong analyst with a good wit, similar to former announcer Bob Brenly. Although Deshaies has no direct ties to the Cubs organization, he did announce for a former division rival, which means he is very familiar with the team.

“We’re very fortunate, along with our fan base, to welcome Jim as the next television analyst of the Chicago Cubs,” said Crane Kenney, Cubs president of business operations. “Jim expressed an incredible appreciation for Cubs baseball, the history of Wrigley Field, the strength of our fan base, his predecessors in the broadcast booth and [wanted the] opportunity to carry the tradition forward. He is a student of the game who incorporates his firsthand knowledge, stories and humor into the broadcast, and we’re excited to see him in the booth with Len.”

Ahoy, Captain!

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for INSIDE THE IVY LOGO.jpgA little rain doesn’t scare a captain. Captain Morgan himself was standing on tables, chanting and throwing out free t-shirts as fans packed into his new club at Wrigley Field this morning.

Located down the rightfield concourse where the Friendly Confines Caf used to be, the Captain Morgan Club is a state-of-the-art garden establishment boasting the best amenities the stadium has to offer, including indoor/outdoor seating, removable windows, and more than 25 wide-screen TVs. The club opened today and is the Cubs’ first year-around operation.

“What we heard over and again was there isn’t a great facility [other than the Stadium Club] for me if I’m a business season ticket holder to bring clients and find a place to eat and make it in the ballpark before the national anthem is finished,” said Cubs President Crane Kenney. “And wouldn’t it be great if
dormers.JPGthere were public
spaces [Wrigley Field]? We have the Stadium Club, but it is a members club. But there isn’t really a place for the public to gather, and that’s what we’re trying to offer.”

It all started back in late-January when workers were beginning the process of removing and relocating all the dedicated brick pavers in the area along Addison Street near the Day of Game Tickets windows. Not many of us in the front office actually knew what was going on, frankly.

But when news of an establishment being created started to circulate, Vine Line decided to inquire. Indeed, Kenney was quite forthcoming about what was going in and when we asked him to elaborate it was the first time we were made aware of the Captain Morgan Club.

“Go up and down Clark Street and you see that this is the entertainment zone for a certain age group. It is an exciting place to be on game days and even non-game days, when we

girders.JPGdon’t play,” Kenney said. “So now we’re going to actively participate in the buzz that in a way, we’ve created and a lot of these businesses have smartly capitalized on. We’re getting into the game.”

After the brick pavers were relocated to just in front of the main entrance under Wrigley Field’s marquee, the construction crew began installing the wrought-iron fencing, girders for the dormers–see above–(they look a lot like the one’s at the top of Wrigley, don’t they?) and they even gave the old tree a little trim, removing some of its more extended branches.

The Club is run by Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group.

I am told that the Captain himself is wandering around the Club with his “Morganettes.” It should be an interesting debut for Wrigley Field’s first year-round establishment.

Just heard behind me in the hall way, a meeting of Cubs legends, as Mr. Cub Ernie Banks and Rick Sutcliffe bumped into each other. It’s always interesting to hear Cubs heroes chat with each other. Players always talk in this sort of mutual admiration type-speak. You can really understand that they appreciate each other and the business of baseball.

–Mike Huang and Kelsey Peters

Welcome, Milton Bradley

Bradley_Milton.jpgThe Cubs front office and Chicago media just wrapped up the formal press conference and group interviews with chairman Crane Kenney, general manager Jim Hendry and new outfielder Milton Bradley.

As is the case when the ink finally dries on a deal, there were several new tidbits that came out of the press conference.

Milton emphasized several times that the Cubs were the only team to which he wanted to go. In fact, according to Hendry, the two parties first made contact on Nov. 5 or 6 over dinner. Both came away struck by the integrity of the other and the positive feel of the discussion.

After that, Hendry said he talked to “the people who count the most … the people you play with and the people you play for.” As he heard good thing after good thing — and he explored every other trade or free agency option out there — he decided on Milton as his main offensive target. It’s a testament to a lot of hard work, diligence, waiting and trust that this deal got done a full two months later.

Milton also teared up when asked about how rewarding it felt to get a long-term contract: “I try my best not to get emotional. I just remember — I didn’t call my mom because I wanted her to find out by watching TV, but she called and left me a message. And I played it back several times. You can hear her voice cracking on the message, and I just know, my mom worked 35 years as a grocery clerk … 35 years, and was able to retire a few years back. It’s just a tremendous blessing.”

On what kind of a hitter he considers himself: “My focus at the plate is just to try to get on base. A lot of people say they’re trying to get a hit or hit in the gap or whatever, I’m just trying to get on base. I’m going to try to make a pitcher throw me three strikes. If I get the first strike, and it’s a good one and that’s what I want, then I’ll hit that one. But for the most part I want to make the pitcher work, and I want to get a strike to hit.”

(more…)

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