Monday, March 07, 2011

Upgrading Your Box

Things just keep getting tougher for the Ricketts. Not only do they have a hand out to the state for funds to fix up Wrigley Field, but they also are asking their primary customers to shell out more bucks as well. What do the season ticket holdsrs have to do now? Nothing. They aren't the main customers.

The big kahunas for the Cubs are the skybox owners. Why? They are the only people in the park with multi-year contracts for tickets. They also have the deepest pockets.

While the Cubs can only have so much certainty that some shlub will fork over a few thousand dollars to sit in the bleachers every day, there's always the chance that said shlub could lose his job and not be able to afford the luxury that is Major League Baseball tickets.

The better bet is to get a good corporation to sign a three or five year contract to take not only more tickets than the shlub (say 15 per game versus the shlub's 2), but to pay premium rent for the skybox itself. The best part of this deal is that the Cubs don't have to have Tom Ricketts send an apology letter to the skybox lessors every year because these companies are in the box for the long haul.

How much are the boxes? Well, according to one suite holder, "...who asked not to be identified, said his company pays in the neighborhood of $200,000 for the 15-person suite. 'And that doesn't include food,' he said."

What's the problem now? It seems some of the suites have become a little shabby. One renter asked if they could do some upgrades themselves and were granted permission. The Cubs saw the improvements and figured they would ask everyone else if they would like an upgrade too, so long as the Cubs don't pay for it.

It's understandable that the Cubs don't want to spend their own money on upgrades if the State of Illinois might soon decide to pay for it. But with a 5th place finish last year, season ticket renewal rates down, and Opening Day not yet sold out (you can get 4 seats together in section 38 as of this writing), shouldn't the Cubs be giving their best customers something rather than asking for donations?

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Through The Years

Some of the Cubs new marketing is out and it's quite a change from last year's "YEAR ONE" campaign.

See, last year, the Ricketts message was that this was going to be a fresh start. We're not 101 years from a title. We are actually just starting! Everything is going to be new! Fresh! Hopeful!

It was an incredibly arrogant and condescending campaign. First, it made the season all about the Ricketts. It's THEIR first year, see? And it made light of the fans who have been waiting and waiting (and paying and paying) for parts of two centuries. Yeah, you all have been waiting, but so what? It's all new and exciting now! There's hope! Notice that there no talk of the team or the players last year. At least when the Trib bought the team, they had the class to say that the Cubs were "Coming Out Of Hibernation!" The message: Yeah, the team has sucked, but it's going to be better now. With the Ricketts, we're not better, we're just pushing the reset button. All that other stuff doesn't matter. It's Year One!

Well, Year One led to 5th place. And the hope and change the Ricketts brought with them turned into the exit of the manager. Lou Piniella was replaced by Mike Quade, a guy already here. And the front office management that took a team from 97 wins to 76 wins in two years all remained in place.

So much for change.

Realizing this, the Ricketts now realize that they can't sell hope and change when there is none. Given their statements about growing confidence in Jim Hendry who has twice turned playoff teams into disasters in only two seasons, there's little reason to believe change is coming (and how could there be when Dad Ricketts was told by Kid Tom that the players and management was in place to win).

What's the response?

New marketing. The focus?

Did she really say 100 years? Isn't this Year Two?

Number Two sure sounds right.

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