Friday, October 30, 2009

Meet The New Boss, Same As / Different from (Circle one) The Old Boss

The Ricketts family meets the media today at 11:00 AM. I'm certain it will be riveting television filled with non-specifics. Remember, these are new people admitted to a club. They aren't going to start by making any waves.

You may hear some semi-detailed things about the plans for the physical plant that is Wrigley Field. They may talk about timing for upgrades and renovation because they are certainly aware that every day they delay risks some fan getting pulverized by a few tons of falling concrete.

The worry warts who were anti-sale because of unsubstantiated fears that the new owner would tear down Wrigley have nothing to worry about. The rumor of ticket price increases is proof if this. As noted on other blogs, the park was empty the last two weeks of the year. Fans, smartly, kept away from a bad product.

Despite the bad baseball product, management clearly believes the demand for Wrigley Field tickets hasn't subsided. This is due to the fact that the Wrigley Experience minimizes subscription risk. No owner is going to destroy Wrigley as doing so removes the safety net in bad baseball times (as 2010 projects to be).

But the issues real fans have either won't be addressed today or will have direct answers dodged. Those issues are:

- How much input are you going to have in on-field operations
- Are you going to hire a baseball person above Jim Hendry
- How sensitive is payroll to interest rates given the massive amount of debt you have incurred
- Are you willing to support the operation with personal cash if it runs on a negative cash flow basis or are you running this to be break even or even profitable

The correct answers to these questions, from a fans' perspective are: yes, yes, hopefully none as the debt hopefully is at fixed interest rates, and yes to personal support.

Maybe they'll surprise us with some quick decisions that they've had as much as four years to plan out. One expects that the real decisions will start trickling out over the next 5 months.

All that said, hope is alive.


Crain's with the first report from the scene.

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