Write Derek at drksmart @ gmail.com
Write Phil at phil.bencomo @ gmail.com
Cubs Convention Report: Day Three
by Phil Bencomo
The long-awaited finale to the thrilling five-part Cubs Convention series finally arrives...
Day Three is always, by far, the slowest day. Most fans don't bother to attend for a variety of reasons, ranging from the lack of big-name players to the short hours. This year, though, I'll go out on a rather short limb and say the Bears-Saints game at Soldier Field had something to do with the low attendance Sunday morning and afternoon.
But I was there. Only mildly interested in football, I instead saw a panel of Cubs executives discuss ticket prices, payroll, and why we'll never again see another Cubs Cruise.
The early session, Meet Cubs Business Management, featured such Cubs brass as Executive Vice President of Business Operations Mark McGuire, Senior Vice President of Community Affairs Michael Lufrano, Director of Marketing and Sales Jay Blunk, and Director of Ticketing Operations Frank Maloney. Exciting, I know.
But this session is really quite enjoyable if you have a genuine interest in the team and its operations, not just its players. It gets really fun when grumpy fans are given the opportunity to chide management.
Now, to the shooting range.
Wrigley Field will have a new lower-deck sound system this season, a much needed upgrade to its decrepit predecessor. For fans, like me, who like to keep score, the old speakers were far from accommodating.
Among other renovations, the Cubs have refurbished the clubhouses and bought a new and much-needed parking lot near Wrigley.
The progress of the Clark Street "Triangle Building," as it has been dubbed, has stalled. To be located next to Wrigley and connected via an overhead walkway, the building is to house a parking garage, offices for Cub employees, and other fan activities. However, funds have been slow in accumulating, and the Cubs are currently looking for partners.
The Cubs will not take down newly installed LCD screens and the behind-home-plate rotating ad, despite pleas to do so. McGuire said that the ads generated significant revenue, and the trade off of increased payroll is aggressive advertising. In fact, with more than $300 million spent this winter, McGuire said to expect more advertising at Wrigley.
In a related item, single-game ticket prices will increase in 2007 as a direct result of the increased payroll. Full pricing information can be found here.
30 home night games is plenty, according to McGuire. He said their has been no discussion of adding more to the schedule.
McGuire hopes to see the All-Star game make a return to Chicago's North Side by at least the year 2014, the 100th year of Wrigley Field.
McGuire admitted that Wrigley Field Premium Tickets, a legal organization that is, according to the courts, separate from the Cubs, may not have been his best idea. He said Premium, which "buys" tickets from the Cubs and resells them, was merely an extension of the organization's goal to fulfill fan needs. But the ensuing court cases of the legality of this scalping firm did nothing of the sort, and has been the source of negative press since its inception. At least he's owning up to his mistakes...
There will be no Cubs Cruise in the immediate future. High costs and low attendance forced this event into deep-freeze. Since I don't even remember when this cruise took place, I'm assuming most other Cub fans didn't know about it, hence the deep-freeze.
And finally, the question of the Cubs' potential sale was addressed. McGuire made clear that this matter is in no way under his control and emphasized that his colleagues are only focused on running the team. And despite the financial troubles of the Cubs' parent company, Tribune Co., "We've always been given the resources we need," McGuire said of management. "Just look at the 2007 payroll."