Results tagged ‘ Ricketts family ’

12/3 Statement from Ricketts family

Here’s a statement from the Ricketts family regarding Ron Santo, who passed away Thursday.

“My siblings and I first knew Ron Santo as fans, listening to him in the broadcast booth. We knew him for his passion, his loyalty, his great personal courage and his tremendous sense of humor. It was our great honor to get to know him personally in our first year as owners.

“Ronnie will forever be in the heart and soul of Cubs fans. Our thoughts and prayers today are with his wife Vicki and their family as we share with fans across the globe in mourning the loss of our team’s No. 1 fan and one of the greatest third basemen to ever play the game.

“As a nine-time All-Star, a five-time Gold Glove winner, Ronnie was one of the best Cubs and a Hall of Famer in our book.

“Since he retired, he was a powerful spokesperson for Juvenile Diabetes Research. For the last 21 years, his love for baseball and passion for the Cubs was felt in every one of his broadcasts.

“In the days and seasons ahead, we will honor Ron and celebrate all he has meant to our team and our fans. Ron’s No. 10 will always be close to our hearts and Ron will forever be a member of the Cubs family.”

— Carrie Muskat

10/10 Thanks from the Ricketts

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts sent a letter to season ticket holders this past week. Here’s a copy:

“It has been an incredible year for my family in our first season as stewards of the Chicago Cubs. Of all the new experiences, none was more enjoyable than the opportunity to meet and spend time with you—our season ticket holders.
“We met many of you during our game day walks through Wrigley Field.  Over the course of those games, you welcomed me and my family, you shared your thoughts and suggestions on improving the team and the ballpark, we celebrated some wins and, unfortunately, suffered too many losses.
“One of the highlights of the year was our first ever season ticket holder ‘open house’ on July 8th. On that day alone I met more than 2100 of you, as we spent a day together in the greatest ballpark on earth. (For all who have inquired—yes, we are going to host that event again and in fact we will double up with a night session as well).
“As our most highly valued customers, your opinions are invaluable as we move our organization forward. In fact, you will soon be contacted to participate in a quality assurance survey as we consider amenity upgrades and look to identify ways to improve your experience at Wrigley Field.
“On behalf of my entire family, thank you for your warm welcome and your incredible support of the Cubs organization. You are truly our partners and we respect your contribution and insights.”
2010 Review
“The 2010 season was a disappointment for all at the major league level–for my family, for the organization, for the players and for the fans. The team showed signs of its potential the last quarter of the season, but the 75-87 record fell well short of our goals. My family is committed to winning a World Series and though it may not be entirely evident from this year’s performance, there are encouraging signs.
“The 2010 highlights revolved around our home grown talent. Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin and Andrew Cashner developed into budding stars, with Castro and Colvin in the NL Rookie of the Year discussion. That young group was enhanced by the August promotion of Casey Coleman, who went 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA in his last four starts. All need to take the next step in 2011, but we are very encouraged to have a group of young, home grown players emerge as regulars in 2010.
“We also have to recognize the superb job done by another one of our own–Mike Quade.  During the final 37 games, the team played at a .649 clip (24-13), the second best record in the Majors over that time frame. Making this even more significant, we played largely against teams fighting for playoff berths.
“It is my strong belief that, in the end, it is organizations with strong farm systems that win championships and I am convinced that our organization is making progress.
“Our success in producing talent from within our system can be attributed to a number of factors, including a commitment of financial resources. We believe we have one of the best scouting directors in baseball in Tim Wilken (now 4 years in place) and with a strong farm director in Oneri Fleita and a very productive international effort, we are making progress in what had been a weak spot in the organization.
“Our farm clubs performed very well in 2010, playing to a collective 374-316 record, with first place finishes at both the Triple-A level in Iowa (tied) and Double-A level in Tennessee. The overall .542 winning percentage was second among all major league organizations and our 374 wins were the most for the Cubs organization in 15 years. As I said at our opening press conference about a year ago, we are committed to winning the right way—with our farm system. We believe we are on the right track.”
2011 Preview
“We are early in the process of building the club for 2011. The first order of business is hiring our manager. Jim Hendry has identified a strong group of candidates and we are currently completing our interviews. This is a critical decision and I am confident we will find the right person to lead the club.
“The strength of our team in 2010 was our starting pitching, as we led the National League with 96 quality starts. We expect that to continue. We are excited to see the continued development of our young players and the strong bullpen work anchored by Carlos Marmol (38 saves and a reliever-franchise record 138 strikeouts) and Sean Marshall (2.65 ERA, 22 holds).
“Going forward, we recognize the need to recommit to fundamentals. We need to stabilize our defense and cut down on errors. We need to improve our offense and become more efficient in both moving runners and hitting with players in scoring position. It is too early to determine whether this will be addressed with internal moves, trades or through free agent acquisitions.  But we know we must improve in these areas.
“Given that we had the highest payroll in the NL in 2010, I get a lot of questions about our payroll commitment for 2011. As I said earlier, we are still working on our 2011 baseball plan, so it is hard to be too specific at this time. What I can tell you is that our overall baseball budget (scouting, player development and payroll) 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.”
2011 Ticket Pricing
“The other question I get regularly concerns our ticket pricing for 2011 and beyond. Overall, our average ticket price will be flat in 2011 compared to 2010. Before going into greater detail on that topic, let me provide some background.
“My family is committed to providing ticket pricing that allows families to enjoy Cubs baseball. In so many ways, our children represent the next generation in the Cubs family. We want to invest in providing families with opportunities to experience Wrigley Field, including such things as running the bases, which will be continued in 2011.
“To this end, we will continue the policy of keeping many of our tickets in the sub $10 range–in fact, we will offer a substantial increase in sub-$10 tickets next year compared to 2010.
“In addition, we are increasing the number of bronze games (our lowest ticket pricing tier) from 6 games in 2010 to 15 games in the bleachers and 11 games in the grandstand in 2011. As a result, there will be 77% more tickets priced at $20 or less in 2011 than there were in 2010.  Stated differently, a total of more than 550,000 tickets will be available for $20 or less next year.
“Again, our average ticket price next year will be essentially flat compared to 2010 (actually it is fractionally down vs. 2010). This does not mean all ticket prices will be the same as last year however, as pricing was adjusted based on location and our schedule. A little background might be helpful.
“To set our pricing in 2011, we examined approximately 5 million transactions from our primary and secondary ticket markets from 2005 through 2010. Our goal was to keep our average ticket price flat overall but improve the alignment of pricing for games and seating sections with actual demand. The result is a market-based ticket model that reflects our fans’ buying patterns.
“The highlights include: (1) reducing the average ticket price for all gold, silver and bronze games, (2) separating the bleachers and grandstands in the pricing tiers, as the buying patterns vary significantly for each area, and (3) adding a new fifth tier of pricing (Marquee Tier) for our high
est demand games.
“Cutting through it all, the net result for our season ticket holders is that some will see a slight (in all cases, less than 3%) increase, others will see a reduction as much as 6% and some will see virtually no change at all.
“Other changes in 2011 include new season ticket holder benefits. Over the years, we have added significant benefits to being a Cubs season ticket holder, such as a dedicated area within our website, early access to Spring Training tickets and other special events (such as the very popular Dave Matthews concerts and Allstate Wrigleyville Classic football game coming in November), and last year’s open house.
“For 2011, there are a number of new benefits that I think you will find interesting. Among them is exclusive access to our players, coaches, manager, front office and ownership through Cubs Insider Webcasts that will occur throughout the year. In addition to updates on everything happening inside the ballclub, these webcasts will provide you the opportunity to ask questions on topics of your choice. A Season Ticket Holder Benefit page follows this letter and you should ask your Cubs representative about any of the items listed there.”
Wrigley Field Renovations
“Like you, we love Wrigley Field and are committed to winning a championship at the Friendly Confines. We all need to recognize, however,  that our wonderful Wrigley Field is fast approaching 100 years of age and is in need of substantial improvements. We committed over $10 million to that effort last year, largely to improve restrooms, add new food options, recast concrete, upgrade steel and other general maintenance. We will continue this effort in 2011 but again the focus will be more tactical than strategic.
“We spent much of the 2010 season assembling a team of renowned architects, engineers, designers and project managers to develop a master plan for a more significant Wrigley Field overhaul and Triangle Building development. Our planning will continue in 2011 and your involvement through the quality assurance surveys mentioned earlier is very important. We look forward to completing the analysis phase and getting underway with the construction and occupation phase.”
“Thank you again for your incredible support of Cubs baseball and the Ricketts family. We have spent our adult lives sitting next to you cheering for our team. We now have the responsibility to improve not only the play on the field but also to protect and save our summer home, Wrigley Field. With your help we will accomplish both.”

4/1 Family Sundays at Wrigley Field

The Cubs and the Ricketts family have created “Family Sundays” at Wrigley Field as part of the new ownership’s commitment to enhancing the family experience. Family Sundays will take place at each Sunday home game in April and May.  Purchase at least four tickets to any Sunday home game through May 30, and each child, age 15 and younger, will receive the opportunity to run the bases following that day’s game, weather permitting. Tickets are limited.

Family Sunday games will take place on the following dates:

·         Sunday, April 18, 1:20 p.m. vs. Houston Astros

·         Sunday, May 2, 1:20 p.m. vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

·         Sunday, May 16, 1:20 p.m. vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

·         Sunday, May 30, 1:20 p.m. vs. St. Louis Cardinals

 More information and tickets for Family Sundays can be found at the following link:


— 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

2/23 The Ricketts arrive; Lee ready to go

The Cubs’ new owners, the Ricketts family, arrived at Fitch Park Tuesday and were to address the players before the first full squad workout.

“I think it’ll help, someone you can identify with and speak to,” Derrek Lee said of having a face for the ownership. “They’ll be around and I already had a chance to speak with them at the Convention and they were asking questions and it was nice. I think it’ll help, I think it’ll make a difference.”

What will make a difference for the Cubs is having everybody on the field healthy and contributing.

“You’ve got all the cliches and sayings and this and that, and the bottom line is we have to get it done on the field,” Lee said. “Pressure or no pressure, we just have to play better. I think we have a veteran team and guys who know how to play the game. We’re not going to let anything on the outside affect us. We just have to stay healthy and go out there and play the way we know how.”

This is the last year of Lee’s contract but he says he hasn’t thought about his future.

“I’m not going to approach them,” Lee said. “I just want to go play.”

— Carrie Muskat

1/17/10 Cubs Convention highlights

Some of the highlights of the weekend at the 25th annual fan fest:

* Watching the Ricketts family patiently and honestly answer questions on a variety of topics. They defended GM Jim Hendry, listened to someone offer his services as a mascot, and outlined plans to preserve Wrigley Field. They emphasized that they’re committed to the Cubs for the next 95 years, not five. Players who met the Ricketts for the first time came away impressed as well. “I hope next year everyone is as happy as they are today,” Laura Ricketts said.

* Seeing the rousing ovation new Hall of Famer Andre Dawson received at the opening ceremonies. No matter what cap Dawson wears into Cooperstown, he’ll always be linked to the Cubs.

* A fan asked Lou if the relievers needed something other than metal folding chairs to sit on in the bullpen. “We’ll get ’em some lounge chairs and some pina coladas,” Piniella quipped.

* Good to know no plans for selling naming rights to Wrigley.

* Marlon Byrd was asked if he’ll do better than Milton Bradley did. “That’s the plan,” Byrd said. “My goal is to stay here longer than he did.”

* Seeing a slim and trim Geovany Soto, now 40 pounds lighter and looking more like a “jockey,” according to Lou.

* Watching fans stop by the Mesa, Ariz., booth to show their support. Byrd and Ted Lilly, who have trained in both Arizona and Florida, picked Arizona as their preferred Spring Training site.

* Brett Jackson, the 2009 No. 1 Draft pick, was attending his first Convention and commented on how “insance” Cubs fans are. He said the weekend had him so pumped, he wanted to start Spring Training this week, not one month from now.

* During the “Kids Only” session, someone asked Sam Fuld what goes through his head when he dives into a wall while trying to make a catch. “Absolutely nothing,” Fuld said. His goal is to one day be able to dunk a basketball.

* Mark your calendar: The 26th annual convention will be Jan. 14-16, 2011.

— Carrie Muskat

1/15/10 Good guys

Carlos Zambrano spent part of his offseason in Guatemala with a church group to help people there. He has created the Big Z Foundation, and hopes to raise money for people in Guatemala and Haiti as well as those in the Chicago area in need.

* Folks attending the Cubs Convention at the Chicago Hilton can make a donation for earthquake-stricken Haiti. Both Cubs Care and the Ricketts family will match each donation with $1, so every $1 donation will become $3.

* Speaking of Haiti, Cubs strength and conditioning coach Tim Buss was in the Dominican Republic to see Alfonso Soriano when the earthquake struck and said he felt tremors.

* Cubs pitcher Randy Wells was named the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s “Rookie of the Year” for his fundraising efforts this offseason in which he raised nearly $100,000. Teammate Sam Fuld, who is diabetic, was a guest speaker at an event in St. Louis. Wells said he hopes to do another fundraiser for JDRF this year.

— Carrie Muskat

1/13/10 Meet the Ricketts

Laura Ricketts will finally get to go to the Cubs Convention. And, she’ll be front and center with her brothers during a “Meet the Owners” panel discussion on Saturday at the Chicago Hilton. The Ricketts family, which took control of the Cubs in late October, will answer fans questions in an hour-long session in the Grand Ballroom.

Laura was at the Cubs Caravan stop on Wednesday at Alexander Hamilton Elementary School. She said this weekend will be her first Cubs Convention. Despite being a long-time Cubs fan with her brothers Tom, Pete and Todd, she said they never could get tickets to the event in the past. It’s a lot easier when you’re the owner.

— Carrie Muskat


1/10/10 Cubs Convention attendees

New Hall of Famer Andre Dawson and new center fielder Marlon Byrd will be among the players participating in the 25th annual Cubs Convention, which kicks off next Friday at the Chicago Hilton.

The new owners, the Ricketts family, plus Lou Piniella and his coaching staff also will attend the three-day event.

Dawson, elected into Cooperstown on Wednesday, will be joined by Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins and Ryne Sandberg.

Besides Byrd, the Cubs players currently on the roster scheduled to attend include Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly, Carlos Marmol, Derrek Lee, Ryan Theriot, Mike Fontenot, Jeff Baker, and Geovany Soto. Others expected to attend include John Grabow, Tom Gorzelanny, Justin Berg, Jim Adduci, Esmailin Caridad, Andrew Cashner, Welington Castillo, Tyler Colvin, Sam Fuld, Jeff Gray, Angel Guzman, Koyie Hill, Micah Hoffpauir, Brett Jackson, Sean Marshall, Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Silva, and Randy Wells.

Former Cubs Glenn Beckert, Jody Davis, Bob Dernier, Randy Hundley, Jay Johnstone, Gary Matthews, Keith Moreland, Andy Pafko, Milt Pappas, Scott Sanderson, Lee Smith, Tim Stoddard, Rick Sutcliffe, and Steve Trout also are scheduled to take part.

General manager Jim Hendry and his staff plus broadcasters Ron Santo, Pat Hughes, Len Kasper, and Bob Brenly also will be at the convention, which is sold out.

— Carrie Muskat

12/4 Ticket prices, Spring Training, skating & more

The Cubs recognize these are tough economic times, so ticket prices for 2010 home games will essentially be flat for 50 percent of the seats. The “bronze” and “silver” level ticket prices will basically stay the same, while the “gold” tickets on average will increase about $2 and the “platinum” level will increase on average about $5.

“This isn’t the year to go crazy on ticket price increases,” Cubs president Crane Kenney said Friday. “The Ricketts [family] made it clear in their opening press conference that all of the profits in the business stay in the business.”

Kenney addressed some other Cubs topics at Wrigley Field:

* SEASON TICKETS: Attention anyone on the waiting list: There’s hope. Right now, there are about 120,000 people on the waiting list. The Cubs will have 700 new tickets available for 2010. Kenney said existing season ticket holders will be allowed to relocate to the now available locations if they chose. Stay tuned for more information on that.

* SPRING TRAINING: The Cubs should have an announcement in January about whether they will keep their Spring Training headquarters in Arizona or move to Florida for the 2012 season. The team has narrowed its list to two sites in Collier County near Naples, Fla., and two sites in Maricopa County, Ariz., including one linked to the Gila River Indian Reservation.

“The way we’re sizing this up is we’ve had a great 50 years in Arizona and they’ve been great partners,” Kenney said. “What [Cubs chairman] Tom [Ricketts] and the family is looking at is where should we spend the next 50 years.”

Naples has become a very viable option, and the Cubs do recognize that travel will be an issue in Florida. The closest teams are in Fort Myers, where the Red Sox and Twins both train. Kenney said he is considering all factors, including the demographics of the two states, to determine the best place to make a sizable investment.

“From the attractiveness of the business offers, it’s certainly even,” Kenney said.

The Cubs aren’t looking to build a smaller Wrigley Field, but replicate the Wrigley experience, he said. They want fans to be able to walk to the ballpark from their hotel and have restaurants, retail and golf nearby. Mesa Mayor Scott Smith has said he hopes the Cubs’ long tradition in the city will count, and Kenney said it does mean something to the Ricketts family.

“The deciding factor will be training for the players,” Kenney said. “Tom [Ricketts] has said at the end of the day, if it’s a push on all other fronts, where we can train the players to perform the best is where we’ll go.”

* WRIGLEY FIELD: The Ricketts family took a tour of the ballpark from top to bottom, examining everything from the washrooms to the players’ lounge to the scoreboard. There is currently some work being done to upgrade. Kenney said the family told him to “think long-term” in terms of improvements. Fans should notice better washroom facilities and concessions. Part of the process has been Kenney taste-testing hot dogs to find the best one.

The players should have a better weight room when they report in 2010. The umpires’ dressing room is being relocated. The back of the scoreboard is being repaired and updated. There are no plans for a video scoreboard, but the team is looking into having replays and stats available for fans at the ballpark to use on their iPhones and other hand-held devices.

The team is negotiating with businesses to find a sponsor for the billboards projected for left field. Kenney said the goal is to preserve the culture of Wrigley Field but also bring in revenue.

The team hopes to create a club on the mezzanine level where Suites 1-6 are currently located. About 80 tickets will be available for that location, and fans will have access to their own concessions and a bar. The tickets will be sold as season tickets. Expect an announcement sometime after Christmas.

* TRIANGLE BUILDING: The Cubs are interviewing architects and engineers to get the project going. The building, which will be located on Clark Street, west of Wrigley Field, could house offices, a restaurant and retail options.

* ICE RINK: The Cubs are building an ice rink in the parking lot west of Wrigley Field which will be open this winter. More details to come. It’s being done in conjunction with the Chicago Park District, and because of the interest created by the NHL Winter Classic played at Wrigley on Jan. 1.

— Carrie Muskat