Tom Ricketts Says 'No Quick Fix'

Al Yellon

The Cubs chairman spoke to a newspaper reporter while in Florida watching the Daytona Cubs in the playoffs.

There's been some discussion of Gordon Wittenmyer's Sun-Times interview with Tom Ricketts already here this afternoon, but I thought it deserved its own article.

Ricketts talked quite a bit about getting more revenue, including getting the Jumbotron installed (that likely is now put off until 2015), and this caught my eye (as well as some of yours in the other post discussing this):

He also said the clubhouse and training facilities planned for underneath the existing clubhouse and workout room are “probably not going to” be ready for the 2014 opener as originally planned, “but it’s a priority for us.”

You'd definitely think that these things should be priorities, and that calls this into question: why would they have to wait for those? Those facilities don't require city approval, and how much could those cost? They certainly don't seem like big-ticket items, and as Ricketts said, they are a "priority".

Then, the article mentions the TV deal up for bids:

... the WGN portion of the local TV rights that the club is trying to negotiate toward $1 million per game levels comparable to other recent deals in the game.

As I have noted here before, WGN-TV's contract now pays the Cubs approximately $400,000 per game. The "gold standard" of TV deals is now the Dodgers' seven-year deal that is paying them about $1.6 million per game. Los Angeles is a bigger TV market than Chicago and the Dodgers are a better team than the Cubs... but given the current state of the major-league Cubs and TV ratings that have plummeted this year, is $1 million per game a realistic figure? Sure, it'd be great and would give the Cubs some much-needed revenue right now, but can they get it?

Wittenmyer writes that Ricketts gave "no assurances" that ticket prices would be reduced for 2014, but he doesn't quote the Cubs chairman on that particular ticket-related note, though there is this:

“In terms of attendance, the way I look at it is we have to win,” Ricketts said. “We have to get a more exciting team. We’re not disappointed with this year’s attendance. We’ll be in the 2.7 [million] range. But obviously, it’s incumbent upon us to make sure we put a more compelling team on the field, and attendance will take care of itself.”

If the 2014 version is as "compelling" as this year's Cubs, that certainly won't "take care of itself". I'll have more on this after the schedule comes out and I write about where I think the Cubs should price tickets, but the Cubs won't get to 2.7 million tickets sold this year. The current tickets-sold total is 2,367,336, an average of 32,880 per date. If the Cubs averaged 32,880 for the remaining nine dates, they'd finish with about 2.66 million. I guess that's in the 2.7 million "range", but I doubt the Cubs average 32,880 for the nine remaining home games. Even if they do, that total is down 220,000 from 2012, or about eight percent. It would be the Cubs' lowest tickets-sold total since 2002 -- and that was a year with just 79 home dates due to rainouts.

Tom Ricketts is right when he says, about his baseball management people:

“The fact is, we’re doing it the right way. We have the best leaders in our baseball organization, the smartest guys. It’s one step at a time. And we’re getting better.”

Nevertheless, the slipping away of the fanbase needs to be addressed before it slips further.

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