In a wide-ranging session on the business operations of the Cubs, the Cubs announced that the team will no longer offer print-at-home tickets for single-game buyers, instead relying on the MLB.com Ballpark app. Will call tickets will still be available, and season-ticket holders will continue to receive the same hard commemorative tickets they’ve received in the past. The announcement does leave this question: What do people without smartphones do?
President of Business Operations Crane Kenney began his remarks by expressing gratitude for fan support and trust over the years. He noted various conflicts over many years over lights, video boards and rooftops, things that are now widely-accepted facts. He appreciated the trust fans gave to the team for all the renovations now going on at Wrigley Field.
The ring bearer contest that I wrote about Saturday was revealed. Entries for this contest must be submitted by video, and the deadline is February 14. More details at the link.
They played a video of current and past construction. The main projects this offseason are the bullpens, some new seating replacing the old bullpens, structural improvements in right field, the beginnings of the 1914 Club that will open in 2018, and some concession improvements. Some of the latter might not be ready for Opening Night. The new West Gate to the ballpark will open this season, which will be a major improvement for bottlenecks near the various entrances and exits to the park.
The new office building will include a Starbucks, and the Hotel Zachary will include a new McDonald’s (as had been previously announced) and a Wintrust bank. The team has planned three other clubs beyond the 1914 Club: one on the first-base side, one on the third-base side, and one in the upper deck.
Kenney was joined for Q-and-A after the presentation by Colin Faulkner (Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing), Alex Sugarman (SVP, Strategy & Ballpark Operations), Carl Rice (Vice President, Wrigley Field Restoration and Expansion), Allison Miller (Vice President - Marketing) and Eric Nordness (Vice President & CFO at Hickory Street Capital, the Ricketts family entity in charge of Hotel Zachary).
Q: Will there be a replica ring giveaway?
A: None is planned.
That’s kind of a disappointment, to me, anyway. The questioner specified the 2006 ring giveaway the Sox did on the second day of that season. The Sox did give out a fairly fancy ring that day, but it was by no means a replica of their World Series ring. The replica they did hand out, an excellent one, was for the 10th anniversary in 2015.
Q: Will there be home clubhouse visiting or tours allowed?
A: Not in the foreseeable future, they plan to keep it fairly exclusive.
Q: Will there be any changes in parking?
A: Little or no change. Kenney mentioned the team is actively pursuing area real estate options with the possibility of converting them to parking.
Q: What about general readiness for Wrigley for Opening Night?
A: Some behind-the plate-concessions will not be ready until May or June. Some new right-field bathrooms will be ready, as well as some new elevators. The completion of the plan envisions four full elevators and five sub-elevators.
Q: When will the All-Star Game come to Wrigley?
A: 2020 at the earliest. Kenney mentioned that MLB tends to favor newer stadiums with public funding, Wrigley Field is not such. Security is one issue that would have to be addressed before MLB would award an ASG to Wrigley.
Q: What about the six-hour StubHub rule?
A: The six-hour rule is meant to support season-ticket holder prices, and no determination has been made whether to continue it.
Q: Could you remove the Toyota sign from the marquee?
A: No. There is a debatable balance between esthetics and revenue, revenue wins this one.
Q: What about game-day street closures?
A: There’s an ongoing dialogue with the city.
Q: Will there ever be a MLB ticket exchange in the manner of NFL or NHL?
A: MLB plans to continue as is.
Q: Could the fan caravans be more spread out?
A: The caravans will concentrate on the city and the suburbs. Player schedules preclude more extensive travel.
Q: Will you restore a separate VIP gate in right?
A: There are no such plans, the Cubs prefer to concentrate metal detectors in one place, so this year to continue as last year.
Q: Will there be wifi?
A: Wifi will not be in operation for 2017, but it will be up and running for 2018.
Q: Any updates on TV broadcasting?
A: There will be in-market streaming available in 2017 as Comcast and MLB have come to an agreement, but current territories and their problems are maintained for now.
Finally, regarding a question many of you have asked, Bruce Miles told me he asked Kenney about the light towers that were on original renderings in the left-field and right-field corners. He said they might not happen because their findings show they'll be less effective than originally thought.