Baseball Toaster Cub Town
Cubs to Fans: Buy Tribune Subscriptions, Move Up on Season Ticket List
2008-12-13 09:30
by Phil Bencomo

The financial woes continue: Tribune Co. files for bankruptcy protection.

The company, which operates TV stations and newspapers including the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times, had $7.6 billion of assets and debt of $13 billion, according to a Chapter 11 petition filed today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del.

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Here's what you probably already knew about 2009 tickets:

Cubs Chairman Crane Kenney called 2009 "clearly the hardest year" for the team to determine ticket prices because of the struggling national economy. The Cubs didn't want to raise prices for everyone, but the demand for quality tickets is expected to remain high in spite of the recession. Kenney referred to the new price structure as a "hybrid plan."

"We're going to leave ticket prices flat for 33 percent of the part, and then selectively raise prices for our best inventory in other places," Kenney said. "The biggest change is we've added another tier of seats. We used to have regular, value and prime [seats]. We're now using the Olympic medals, gold, silver and bronze, and added a platinum level. The big change is there are 14 games we put into platinum level and, generally, that is driving our ticket increases."

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But I'm sure -- I guarantee, in fact -- you haven't heard about this part of the Cubs' ticket plan:

CHICAGO -- Tribune Co. and the Chicago Cubs on Friday announced unprecedented plans to open the season ticket waiting list to the open market. Beginning in January, fans of the Tribune Co.-owned Cubs can buy their way to the top of the list with the purchase of subscriptions to the Chicago Tribune.

"Look: We've got some issues to work out," said Tribune Co. Chairman and CEO Sam Zell. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday amid falling revenues and the nationwide credit crisis. "And it's not just us. Look at the financials at any paper. If we're going to turn this industry around, it's going to take creative solutions, like the one announced here today," Zell added.

Cubs Chairman Crane Kenney said fans already on the ticket waiting list will receive points based on their current place on the list. "Some people have been on this list for decades," Kenney said. "It wouldn't be fair -- or humane, really -- to just wipe that all away and make them start over."

To get more points, and move up on the list, fans must buy subscriptions to the Tribune. Further details about the system, which will be hosted on, will be released next month.

Zell would not comment on how the Cubs' impending sale would affect the new system, but Kenney says the concept is not dependent on newspaper subscriptions. "We can make points equal to anything we want," he said, "be it newspapers or straight-up cash."

Cubs officials say a similar system will be implemented for the sale of individual game tickets. Rather than receive a randomized place in a virtual waiting room when the tickets are made available, online customers can purchase issues of Vine Line, the Cubs' official magazine, to improve their place in the virtual line.

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