Results tagged ‘ Crane Kenney ’

10/10 Cubs update

On Friday, Theo Epstein and Crane Kenney met with Cubs season ticket holders at the Oriental Theater in downtown Chicago to discuss the 2014 season and look ahead to 2015. Here are some key points from the session:

* Kenney, president of business operations, said the team is in “extra innings” in terms of its television contract negotiations, adding that a number of potential partnerships have emerged. The Cubs’ agreement with WGN-TV ended with the 2014 season, which ended a relationship dating to 1948. The move now allows the team to get its broadcast and cable rights in sync. The Cubs have a contract with Comcast SportNet Chicago that runs through 2019.

A television deal is a significant revenue source. The Dodgers, for example, launched their own cable network this year, and are earning $8.35 billion over 25 years.

* The $575 million Wrigley Field renovations are underway, with the official groundbreaking scheduled for Saturday. The first phase involves the bleachers, and extending the outer walls of the ballpark to the curb of the current sidewalk along Waveland and Sheffield avenues to accomodate 300 additional seats in left field, 300 in right, and 300 standing room seats in the bleacher deck. Kenney said the changes will allow the team to install a 4,000-square foot video scoreboard in left and a 2,400-square foot video scoreboard in right field, as well as five other advertising signs.

“We’re not planning any ‘Kiss Cams’ or wild dance contests,” Kenney said of the video scoreboards, but they will show real time statistics, replays, historical highlights in response to fan surveys.

* During a Q&A, a fan wondered if the Cubs could buy all of the buildings around Wrigley Field to eliminate any conflicts with rooftop owners, and Kenney said it’s not feasible. Rooftop owners make $25 million a year from their businesses and “they don’t pay for the talent,” he said.

* The only boos from the crowd came whenever pitcher Edwin Jackson’s name was mentioned, and Epstein admitted it was “tough to watch” the right-hander struggle for the second straight season. Jackson will “have to make dramatic improvements to have a role on the team” next year and knows that,” Epstein said.

* Epstein said Kris Bryant, the 2014 Minor League Player of the Year by and others, is in a position “to impact our 2015 season.” However, that doesn’t mean the third baseman is the Opening Day starter.

* Epstein said they have done “five to six years of work in three seasons” in restocking the farm system through the First-Year Player Draft, international signings and trades. He cautioned that the young talent still needs time to develop and there will be hiccups, but the players have taken a big step.

“I think it’s clear we have enough talent to compete,” Epstein said. “Do we have enough talent to win? That’s the beauty of baseball. You don’t know until you try. This is the first time we’ve had enough talent to compete. I believe when you’re competing, you have to set your sights high.”

* The Cubs plan to add impact starting pitching over the next 15 months, Epstein said, which means it could be this offseason or at the 2015 Trade Deadline or after next season. Is he wary watching top talent like Jon Lester and Max Scherzer, both free agents, who did not fare well in the postseason?

“This time of year is dangerous because we always take the small sample size events and create majestic narratives about what it means to build a winning team and a landscape in general,” Epstein said. “We’re not going to go out and lead the league in stolen bases next year because of the Royals. … We know that buying top of the rotation starters in free agency, those haven’t been the signings that bring the best return in investment.”

— Carrie Muskat

10/8 2011 ticket prices

Cubs season ticket holders will get a letter this week with the news that overall, the average ticket price will not increase for 2011. However, a new tier of pricing will be added to the current platinum, gold, silver and bronze levels, and will be called the marquee level. The 13 marquee games will have a higher price; the 68 remaining games will see an average 8 percent decrease from 2010 pricing.

The marquee games include Opening Day, April 1 vs. the Pirates; the Interleague series against the Yankees June 17-19, and against the White Sox July 1-3; and the series against the Cardinals, Aug. 19-21. The other three “marquee” games at Wrigley Field are July 16 against the Marlins; July 23
against the Astros; and Aug. 6 against the Reds. Those are all Saturdays; the
other games in those series will not be listed as marquee.

The Cubs evaluated more than 5 million pieces of primary and secondary market ticket data, going back to 2005, with a focus on 2009 and 2010, to determine fans’ ticket buying patterns. They knew that certain matchups, such as Cubs vs. Cardinals, drove ticket sales, plus what day the game was played on, plus whether it was a day or night game. The study helped determine the priority.

Although the overall average ticket price will remain the same, Cubs team president Crane Kenney said Friday some season ticket holders will see an increase of about 3 percent for 2011, depending on their seat location. The invoice for some season ticket holders may be reduced by 6 percent, again, depending on location. Bleacher season ticket holders could pay the same as they did in 2010. The invoices will go out later this month.

Next year, 17 percent of the Cubs ticket inventory will be listed at $20 or less compared to 9.6 percent at that price in 2010, which is a 77 percent increase. That means there will be more than 550,000 tickets listed at $20 or less, including 15 games listed at $20 in the bleachers. Fans will still be able to buy an $8 ticket to select games at Wrigley Field. There also will be an increase in the number of Bronze level games for 2011 from six to 15.

The Cubs will introduce a holiday ticket pack. Fans will be able to purchase four-game packages at an average of less than $25 per ticket. Details will be announced at a later date.

Last year, 50 percent of the Cubs ticket inventory went up, while the rest of the inventory remained the same, which resulted in an overall average ticket price increase.

— Carrie Muskat

7/14 Cubs to stay in Mesa

The Cubs’ Spring Training facility will apparently stay in Mesa, Ariz. Team officials have notified the Naples, Fla., group trying to lure the Cubs to the Sunshine State that they will continue exclusive negotiations with Mesa beyond Monday’s deadline. The Cubs and Mesa had established a July 12 deadline in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to have financing in place for the new facility.

On Sunday, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts told Chicago reporters in Los Angeles that he anticipated the team would continue working with Mesa. Chairman Crane Kenney echoed that sentiment Tuesday in a statement.

“The Cubs are appreciative of the efforts from the Naples team to provide the club with a first-rate Spring Training facility,” Kenney said. “Naples is a world-class city and could undoubtedly provide our organization and fans an exceptional facility and experience.

“Despite the opportunity that exists in Naples, for the time being we will continue our work in Mesa to build a new Spring Training facility there,” Kenney said.

Mesa recently announced a financing plan for an $84 million complex with the money coming from the city, not the state. Initial funds to pay for a new stadium would come from the city’s enterprise fund, according to Mesa Mayor Scott Smith. Those funds would be replenished over a 15- to 20-year period from sales of Mesa’s surplus land holdings in Pinal County.

The Cubs have a board meeting scheduled for Thursday in Chicago.

Mesa voters will be asked in November to approve two measures that could affect the new Spring Training project. One is to raise the city’s bed tax from 3 percent to 5 percent. Mesa voters also must agree if the city is to spend more than $1.5 million on an entertainment or sports venue.

Naples made a strong push for the team, led by Craig Bouchard, an executive with Chicago-based Esmark, Inc.

“In our discussions with the Cubs we asked for them to provide our group with an exclusive negotiating period,” Bouchard said in a statement released Tuesday night. “The Cubs politely declined and will continue to negotiate with Mesa for the time being. We understand the importance of loyalty and wish them well. We also respect 57 years of support from Mesa. Therefore, we have respectfully withdrawn our offer.”

— Carrie Muskat

7/6 Dave Matthews Band at Wrigley

The Dave Matthews Band has added two concerts to its tour and will perform at Wrigley Field Sept. 17-18. Tickets go on sale July 17 at 10 a.m. CT. Singer/songwriter Jason Mraz will join the bill as support for both dates.

Tickets are priced at $85, $75, $65, and $49.50 and will be available at or by calling 1-800-THE-CUBS. Tickets will not be sold at the Wrigley Field Box Office. There is a six ticket limit per customer. Additional fees may apply.

In past years, Wrigley Field has hosted concerts for The Police, Jimmy Buffett, Elton John and Billy Joel, and Rascal Flatts.

 “Wrigley Field and the Cubs have long been known for their passionate fans,” Cubs president Crane Kenney said. “This September, the Friendly Confines will be filled with passionate fans of a different sort; fans of one of this generation’smost enduring, most popular and most hard working musical groups, the Dave Matthews Band. We are thrilled to be able to offer the band and its fans a truly unique concert experience here at historic Wrigley Field.”

The Cubs are playing in Florida against the Marlins on those dates.

— Carrie Muskat

6/16 Happy 300

Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano were each presented trophies commemorating their 300th career home runs on Wednesday. Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts and team president Crane Kenney made the presentation. Lee hit his 300th home run on June 9 in Milwaukee while Soriano reached the milestone last Friday against the White Sox.

— Carrie Muskat

3/11 Lou: "My job is to win"

This is the last year of Lou Piniella’s contract and he said Thursday he’s perfectly happy with his situation. Cubs team president Crane Kenney said they will talk “at some point” at season’s end about Piniella’s future.

“If he feels well and wants to keep going, we’ll have an interesting conversation,” Kenney said Thursday. “He’s done a great job. He’s raised the bar and that’s a little bit of the burden we all carry now. As I tell everybody in our organization, it’s a lot better than being picked to finish fourth or fifth and having everybody talk about failure all the time.”

Is it too early to talk about Piniella’s next contract?

“It is, it really is,” Piniella said Thursday. “I’m perfectly comfortable the way the situation is. I’m going to do the best job I humanly can do. Whether I was signed here for one year or signed here for five years, there would be no difference. My job is to get this team to win and that’s exctly what I’m going to focus on and nothing more.”

Kenney said Piniella has “raised the bar.” The team has posted winning seasons in Piniella’s three seasons at the helm. He’s the first Cubs manager to do that since Leo Durocher (1967-71).

“That’s one of the reasons I was brought here,” Piniella said. “I feel good about that. Still, we want to do more than I’ve done. This year here is no different. We’re going to get after it and put the best team we can on the field and win as many games as we can and when it’s all over, give ourselves a chance in postseason. That’s what we’re working for, that’s what we’re planning for and that’s what we’re hoping for.”

Piniella, 66, said there are no health issues to worry about.

“Last time [I checked], I’m not on life support,” Piniella said, laughing.

So, no problems?

“I was tired after last year,” he said. “It was a trying year, and we’ll leave it at that.”

The Cubs finished second in the National League Central in 2009 after winning the division in 2007 and ’08.

“My health is good,” he said. “God has blessed me in that aspect. You know what, like I said before, I don’t want my situation to be any kind of distraction at all. I want the focus on the baseball team, the players here, our won and loss record, the attendance — that’s the focus of this year, nothing more, nothing less. When this year is over, we’ll see what happens.”

— Carrie Muskat

3/11 State of the Cubs

The Cubs are expected to name the preferred Spring Training site in two weeks, finish the Triangle building by 2014, and have enough wiggle room to add players at the trade deadline if needed.

Team president Crane Kenney met Thursday at HoHoKam Park with the media to deliver a state of the Cubs address.

* Spring Training: The Ricketts family was to meet Thursday to talk about the various sites. Kenney said they’ve been assured by the mayor of Mesa and Arizona legislators that the financing will go through. The plan for the Cubs’ facility can be managed through the Mesa property tax referendum, that will happen in November, and the car rental tax. The proposed Cactus League ticket surcharge is not needed for what the Cubs are building, Kenney said. The team needs $84 million to build the facility, and a portion of that comes from the city of Mesa, a portion comes from the state and a portion comes from the Cubs.

Kenney said he hopes the Cubs will identify the site in east Mesa in the next two weeks. The Cubs are paying for the land and all the non-baseball development, which is designed as a proposed “Wrigleyville West.” That would include a hotel, retail and entertainment district around the ballpark, and would have a year-round appeal, he said.

Even if the referendum passes in November, Kenney expected the Cubs would play two more years at their current site in Mesa.

* Triangle building: The plan is to develop the land west of Wrigley Field along Clark Street and Kenney said the Ricketts family is still evaluating what components should go into the six-story building. It could house a restaurant, offices, retail and space for the team. Kenney said they’re halfway through finalizing those plans. The goal is to complete it by 2014, which is the 100-year anniversary of Wrigley Field.

* Wrigley Field: The men’s and women’s restrooms on the concourse level have been renovated. The scoreboard is being re-faced. The Sheffield Grill will be open to the public year-round and the menu will change. The batting tunnel in the outfield is being turned into a lounge and there will be a one-way window in which fans can watch players hit. There’s $100 million budgeted for restoration and renovation of the stadium.

* Player development: The Cubs have added an academy in the Dominican Republic and expanded their scouting internationally to try and develop players in the system. The future is bright with players like Andrew Cashner, Brett Jackson, Starlin Castro and Tyler Colvin in the system. Kenney said that’s a credit to people in the organization like Tim Wilkens, Paul Weaver and Jose Serra, among others.

* Team payroll: Kenney said the situation has improved with the Ricketts family because they are not putting a penny in their pockets, but re-investing all profits into the team and the facilities. “Every time we can stage a concert or a hockey game or a football game or bring a new marketing partner in or find a way to grow the business, it directly impacts what we can do on the field and with the facility,” Kenney said.

If the Cubs need to make a player move by the trading money, Kenney said GM Jim Hendry should have funds. A year ago, the team owner was bankrupt and the sale was still being finalized. It’s a different situation with the Ricketts family in control.

* Ticket prices: They’ll be determined year to year. Kenney said they had at least 97 percent of their season ticket holders renew. The Cubs were able to add 200 bleacher seats for season ticket holders and 700 more seats were made available that had been allocated to the former owners, the Tribune Co.

The Cubs are looking for other ways to get revenue, such as selling advertising behind the left field bleachers. That area does not interfere with the Cubs’ rooftop partners.

“We have to keep reinventing ourselves,” Kenney said. “If all you do is rely on ticket prices, you’ll run into a tough reality.”

Kenney said the Cubs have a long-term agreement with WGN-TV and they have not forgotten how important broadcasting the games on that station are.

* Free agents: What will the Cubs do with Derrek Lee and Ted Lilly, who are in the last year of their contracts? “That will be down the road and that will be mostly Jim,” Kenney said.

* Lou Piniella: This is Piniella’s last season on his contract. Kenney said they will talk at some point.

“If he feels well and wants to keep going, we’ll have an interesting conversation,” Kenney said. “He’s done a great job. He’s raised the bar and that’s a little bit of the burden we all carry now. As I tell everybody in our organization, it’s a lot better than being picked to finish fourth or fifth and having everybody talk about failure all the time.”

— Carrie Muskat

2/24 Mesa update

The Ricketts family and team president Crane Kenney toured the four possible Spring Training sites in Mesa on Tuesday. Kenney said he’s encouraged a deal will get done.

On Friday, Arizona legislators plan to meet with the Cactus League teams to discuss the proposed surcharge on Spring Training tickets which will help pay for the Cubs’ new stadium. Kenney has encouraged the teams to come up with alternatives.

“The state and the city will figure out how to finance this,” Kenney told WGN Radio’s David Kaplan. “We’re supportive of any measure that helps us get a facility, a world class one, and we’ve been led to believe by everyone from [Senator] John McCain, who I had lunch with last week, on down that this will get done and we’re going to have a few bumps in the road like lots of legislation but we’re pretty confident.”

— Carrie Muskat

1/17/10 Wrigley & Cubs business

Wrigley Field will be 100 years old in 2014. “On the 100th anniversary, let’s have the ballpark ready for another 100 years,” team president Crane Kenney said Saturday during a business management seminar at the Cubs Convention. Kenney said they are looking at plans for the so-called Triangle building, proposed for the land west of Wrigley along Clark Street. It would house offices, restaurants, parking, possibly a Hall of Fame, and provide space for some of the player facilities. Kenney said fans can expect to see more construction at Wrigley over the next few years.

Other highlights from the session:

* There has been no talk about selling the naming rights. “I can’t imagine the day the ballpark is not called ‘Wrigley Field,'” Kenney said.

* There are no plans to do personal seat licenses (PSL) at Wrigley.

* There are no plans for Friday or Saturday night games. Those aren’t neighborhood friendly. The Cubs currently are allowed 30 night games at home. There are only 27 on the schedule to give national television a chance to pick a game for a night broadcast.

* The Cubs make twice as much broadcasting games on cable compared to games on WGN. There are talks about the team having its own network, but that’s a few years away.

* Kenney said they’ll leave the fireworks and the mascots to the team on the South Side. “We always come down on the side of tradition,” Kenney said. A show of hands showed fans favored installing a Jumbotron, but the Cubs are still discussing that.

* What about Wrigley hosting the 2014 All-Star Game? The Cubs have talked to MLB commissioner Bud Selig and Kenney said they are “hopeful.” However, MLB is alternating American League cities and National League cities, and an AL city would be up in 2014.

— Carrie Muskat

12/16 Spring training update

The city of Mesa is rushing to install $750,000 worth of new batting cages at the Cubs’ Fitch Park facility in time for Spring Training. The City Council will consider the bids to build the cages on Thursday. It delayed a vote Monday after councilman Dave Richins objected to how quickly the city was trying to get a deal done, according to the East Valley (Ariz.) Tribune.

City manager Chris Brady said Cubs officials were talking to city about improving the batting cages before the Ricketts family took over the team in late October. The batting cages are not tied to negotiations over the team’s Spring Training plans.

“Hopefully, it continues to demonstrate our ongoing relationship,” Brady told the Tribune.

Meanwhile, Naples, Fla., community leaders gathered Monday night to officially launch “Project Home Run,” which is their bid to lure the Cubs to the Sunshine State. About 70 to 80 people attended a private gathering at the home of Craig Bouchard, vice chairman of Esmark Inc.

“This was the first step towards taking our private transaction into the public forum,” Bouchard told the Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press.

Cubs president Crane Kenney said he expects an announcement regarding the team’s future Spring Training headquarters next month.

— Carrie Muskat