Cubs

Variables go into Cubs 2011 ticket pricing

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Variables go into Cubs 2011 ticket pricing

Friday, Oct. 8, 2010
6:50 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

The Cubs sifted through approximately five million pieces of data catalogued from 2005 on before setting ticket prices for next season. The review included box-office sales and transactions made through brokers like StubHub and Wrigley Field Premium.

What that means depends on what youre looking to buy, which is the entire point.

Overall, the average ticket price will essentially remain the same in 2011. To hit those numbers, the Cubs created a new marquee tier for 13 games with the highest demand. For those dates, tickets will rise roughly 12 percent from the year before.

This category will subsidize the other 68 games on the home schedule. More than 550,000 tickets or 17 percent of inventory will be listed at 20 or less next year. Less than 10 percent of tickets were valued that low in 2010.

Fans will still be able to buy 8 tickets on selected days. And there will be no significant increases to the remaining four tiers. Platinum will basically stay even, while prices for the less desirable gold, silver and bronze games will decrease by about eight percent.

The Cubs found that buying patterns are different in the bleachers than the grandstands and will make distinctions between the two areas. The number of bronze games, which represent the lowest-priced tier, will increase from six to 15 in the bleachers.

What an average season-ticket holder will see is flat, Cubs president Crane Kenney said Friday. The highest increase for a season-ticket holder will be about three percent if you had seats in certain sections. If youre in a different place, you might see a reduction in your invoice as much as six percent.

This strategy isnt easy to fit into a headline or a Twitter update, but it is a window into how Tom Ricketts will run this franchise. The chairman, an investment banker with two degrees from the University of Chicago, will be guided by data analysis.

During his familys first season of ownership, Ricketts noticed the empty seats at Wrigley Field, which drew more than three-million fans but on certain nights saw some of its lowest attendance figures since 2006.

The Cubs havent finished projecting revenues for next season. The expectation is that ownership will spend the same amount next year on baseball operations, including amateur signings, international development and facility upgrades.

But payroll could decrease from the approximately 145 million committed on Opening Day 2010.

We are still working on our 2011 baseball plan, so it is hard to be too specific at this time, Ricketts wrote in a letter sent Friday to season-ticket holders. What I can tell you is that our overall baseball budget will be about the same in 2011 as it was in 2010.

Continued long-term success will come through superior scouting and player development, and we are committed to improving that facet of the organization. As a result, this likely means a shift of some of our resources from the major-league payroll toward scouting and player development, but we are still very much in the evaluation phase."

Fans will be paying for it in part through an average ticket price of 47.17, which does not include the 12 percent amusement tax assessed by local government. The Cubs have disputed the methodology used in a Team Marketing Report study that found they had, on average, the most expensive tickets in baseball in 2010.

Internally, the Cubs believe theyre fourth in that category, that it costs more to see the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets.

Season-ticket holders wont receive their bills until later this month. Some of the 13 marquee games are obvious, like Opening Day and series against the Yankees (June 17-19), White Sox (July 1-3) and Cardinals (Aug. 19-21).

Three Saturdays in the summer when out-of-town visitors flock to Chicago were also separated out: July 16 (Marlins); July 23 (Astros); and Aug. 6 (Reds).

By then, everyone should have a better idea of whether or not Wrigley Field will be hosting meaningful games into September, or remain just another tourist attraction.

When we see empty seats, we ask: Is it pricing? Is it the product on the field? Is it the economy? Is it the service level? Kenney said. There (are) a whole lot of questions around why you might have an unfilled seat. This year, we took a much deeper dive into that question and hopefully were doing it smarter.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Cubs’ Ian Happ claimed center field after AAA detour: 'He's the real deal'

Cubs’ Ian Happ claimed center field after AAA detour: 'He's the real deal'

Ian Happ paused before answering, the moment of silence punctuating his matter-of-fact response.

“No,” he said. “I don’t feel that way.”

Looking back, he doesn’t feel like he rose to the Major Leagues too quickly.

Happ has had to field that question since spending 2/3 of last season in Triple-A. But already this year, Happ has hit three home runs, tied for the most on the team, while also maintain a top-three batting average (.297). Not only is he performing on the field, Happ has also embraced a leadership role and taken over for Kris Bryant as the team’s MLBPA representative.

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“He’s the real deal,” Ross said Sunday, after Happ went 3-for-3 with two doubles in the Cubs’ intrasquad scrimmage.

The club’s decision to send Happ to Triple-A Iowa at the beginning of last season came as a surprise. Much of Happ’s conviction that he was ready for the major leagues when he debuted came from his standout rookie season.

Happ hit 24 home runs as a rookie – still his career high – and finished eighth in rookie of the year voting in 2017. His batting average regressed the next year (from .253 to .233), and his strikeout number rose (from 129 to 167). But he joined the .350 club in on-base percentage.

“We believed then and we believe now that he’s going to be a really good player,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said this week. “We thought it was the right move and something that was necessary even though it was really unpleasant to send him back there. To his credit, he made the absolute most of it, took personal responsibility.”

When Happ returned to the big leagues, his progress showed. He won NL player of the week in the final week of the season. But he’s made even more of a splash this year, from Spring Training through the first two weeks of the regular season.

Entering the year, center field was one of the main position battles to monitor for first-time manager Ross.

“Right now, the job is Ian Happ’s,” Ross said Sunday.

Ross’ lineup choices had suggested as much already. Happ has appeared in all 13 of the Cubs games, at least pinch hitting in the three he didn’t start.

“It’s hard to take Ian Happ out of the lineup,” Ross said of the switch-hitter. “The guy’s swinging the bat really well, and his right-handed at-bats have gotten tremendously better. He’s been a staple.”

Happ started his season off with a two-run home run in his first plate appearance. He was batting ninth, and through all of Ross’ reshuffling of the bottom third of the batting order, Happ has been the Cubs’ most frequent nine-hole hitter.

With the Cubs’ No. 7 and 8 hitters consistently getting on base, in the nine-hole has showcased Happ’s ability to drive in runs (he’s tied for second on the team with six RBI) or set the table for the Cubs’ unconventional top of the order.

“I feel great about where I'm at right now,” Happ said, “my ability to help the team and get on base for those guys that are hitting behind me.”

Just as he set the tone in the batter’s box early, with an Opening Day home run, Happ flashed some leather in the opening series against the Brewers. Three days into the season, Happ tracked a long fly ball back to the wall. He leaped and caught it just before his back slammed into the ivy, which barely cushioned the brick behind it.

Happ slid down the wall into a crouch, his body no doubt feeling the results of the impact. But it wasn’t long before he stood back up.

“I think he absolutely took advantage of his time down (in Iowa),” Epstein said, “and is in a different and better phase in his career now because of what he went through.”

 

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How Cubs temporarily grabbed White Sox spotlight during Sunday Night Baseball

How Cubs temporarily grabbed White Sox spotlight during Sunday Night Baseball

Even with the White Sox on center stage, the Cubs found their way into the spotlight.

“We’re gonna aggravate everybody in Schaumburg with this,” ESPN broadcaster Matt Vasgersian said Sunday. “White Sox fans, sorry about this.”

The White Sox made their first appearance on Sunday Night Baseball since May 12, 2013 on Sunday. But early in their matchup against the Indians, the ESPN broadcast momentarily pivoted towards the North Siders.

ESPN showed the results of a social media poll asking baseball fans what they make of the Cubs’ 10-3 start to the season. Of the more than 52,000 respondents, 41 percent said they’ll start to fade soon, 34 percent said they’re a World Series contender and 25 percent said they’re a division title contender.

“Apparently, we had a lot of respondents calling from the South Side of Chicago,” Vasgersian joked.

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The Cubs were scheduled to appear on Sunday Night Baseball before their series against the Cardinals was postponed. So while the poll’s appearance was no coincidence, some White Sox fans probably weren’t happy seeing it pop up mid-game.

“White Sox (fans) are saying,” Vasgersian said, “‘It’s the first time we’ve been on Sunday Night Baseball since 2013 and we gotta talk about the Cubs?’” 

White Sox fans have aired their grievances in recent years over the team being forgotten by national media, especially as the Cubs have received plenty of coverage. This may not fall under the same category as previous occurrences, but it certainly brings back memories of those moments.

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