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.

Jason Heyward surprised Cubs fans didn’t boo Rajai Davis more

Jason Heyward surprised Cubs fans didn’t boo Rajai Davis more

MESA, Ariz. – The Cactus League crowds are different than the ones packed into Wrigley Field. It was only a meaningless split-squad game on a Saturday afternoon in the Arizona sunshine. Finally winning the World Series must have somewhat dulled the edge.

But Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward still thought Rajai Davis would hear it from the sellout crowd of 14,929 at Sloan Park, the what-could-have-been anxiety bubbling up when seeing the Oakland A's leadoff guy who nearly changed the course of baseball history.

"I was surprised he didn't get booed more, but that's just how our fans are," Heyward said. "They're fun like that. They have fun with the game. They acknowledge it. That's pretty cool for Cubs fans to boo you. If anybody boos you from last year, that's kind of an honor, I would say. To be on that side of things, it means you did something great."

As Alfonso Soriano liked to say, they don't boo nobodies. With one big swing, Davis almost unleashed a miserable winter for the Cubs and ended the Cleveland Indians' 68-year drought.

Manager Joe Maddon kept pushing closer Aroldis Chapman, who fired 97 pitches in Games 5, 6, and 7 combined. Davis timed seven straight fastballs in the eighth inning – the last one at 97.1 mph – and drove a Game 7-tying two-run homer just inside the foul pole and onto the left-field patio. In a now-famous rain-delay speech, Heyward gathered his teammates in a Progressive Field weight room as the Cubs regained their composure.

"They booed him, but only the first at-bat," Heyward said. "The second at-bat and the third, I was like: ‘Eh, they kind of just let him off the hook.' They let him be."

The fans who stuck around until the end got to hear "Go Cubs Go" after a 4-3 win. Davis parlayed that big moment into a one-year, $6 million contract with the A's. The Cubs will see the Indians again on Sunday afternoon in Mesa.

"As players, we're all onto the season and enjoying this ride and a new journey," said Heyward, who went 0-for-3 with an RBI as he worked on his new swing. "All the teams that we played in the playoffs are obviously out here in spring training, so it's just really fun and it's good for the makeup of your team when you compete that way.

"You're thrown right back into the fire when you talk about the competition and remembering things that happened in the postseason. But we don't dwell on it too much."

Cubs envisioning ‘hybrid' roles for Mike Montgomery and Brett Anderson

Cubs envisioning ‘hybrid' roles for Mike Montgomery and Brett Anderson

MESA, Ariz. – The Cubs believe Mike Montgomery will be so much more than just the answer to a trivia question or a cameo appearance in the highlight film.

The symmetry became impossible to miss on Saturday at Sloan Park, where the Cubs put the World Series trophy on display behind home plate and set off fireworks at 1:06 p.m. Three minutes later, the guy who threw the last pitch of 2016 threw the first pitch 2017 pitch in Mesa.

That it came against Rajai Davis added to the moment. Scattered boos greeted Davis when the Oakland A's leadoff guy walked toward the batter's box, a reminder of how he almost turned a dream season into a nightmare when he slammed Aroldis Chapman's 97.1 mph fastball onto Progressive Field's left-field patio just inside the foul pole for a Game 7-tying two-run homer for the Cleveland Indians.

A year that began with Montgomery thinking he might be playing in Japan ended in that mosh pit. A lefty who had been viewed as a low-leverage swingman for the Seattle Mariners notched the final out of the World Series for a franchise that hadn't won one since 1908.

"Be ready for anything," Montgomery said when asked about the "hybrid" job description manager Joe Maddon laid out for him and Brett Anderson, the other lefty in the mix for the fifth-starter job.

"The big thing with both of them (is) neither one has really been stretched out anywhere close to 200 innings over the last couple years," Maddon said before a 4-3 split-squad win over Oakland. "So we're thinking it's almost like a hybrid moment. Maybe fold one back into the bullpen while the other one starts. And vice versa. Or just jump a sixth guy in there now and then to keep the other guys from being overworked too early.

"It's in theory right now. We haven't actually laid it down on paper. We feel pretty fortunate. If everybody stays healthy, you got six guys that you like right there. It's hard for anybody to say that. That's the point. These guys have not been really satisfactorily stretched out over the last couple years.

"How do we keep them both active and helping us? That's going to be our challenge early and through the beginning part of the season."

Anderson (29) is older and more experienced and working on a one-year, $3.5 million deal that could max out at $10 million if he rips off the injury-prone label and makes 29 starts. Montgomery (27) is the more raw talent (23 career big-league starts) the Cubs now control through the 2021 season.

"There's a lot of different possibilities that they could go with," Montgomery said. "For me, it's just continuing to build up my arm strength and getting my timing down, my mechanics down and that way I'm ready to go and do whatever it is that they need me to."

Pitching in front of 14,929 and an All-Star infield, Montgomery walked Davis and Matt Joyce and notched two strikeouts in a scoreless first inning. Montgomery felt the adrenaline rush, but nothing in Arizona can compare to the 10th inning of a Game 7.

"The sky's the limit," Maddon said. "He's like a 10-plus game winner on an annual basis as a starter. I think he definitely has that within his abilities. I've told him that (winning) 10 to 15 games is within his abilities, no doubt. That comes with fastball command and then knowing what to do with his breaking pitches. He's got really high-quality stuff.

"I'd like to think that moment will increase his confidence. But then again, it's a new year. And you have to go out there and pitch."