The Cubs had a one-hour online forum Thursday evening for season-ticket holders with chairman Tom Ricketts, President of Business Operations Crane Kenney and other team executives.
Moderated by Len Kasper, the executives appeared from their homes. And Ricketts said something that surprised me, anyway. He stated that 70 percent of Cubs revenues come from what can generally be termed “gameday operations” — in other words, ticket sales and other money that comes from fans in the stands. He added that in the proposed 82-game season, if there are no fans the Cubs would be taking in about 15 percent of what they usually do, presumably largely from broadcast rights and related advertising and sponsorships.
The 70 percent figure surprised me. Per David Lennon of Newsday:
The dollars are a problem. According to source, gate-related revenue accounts for 51 pct of local $ for teams and 40 pct of MLB total $.— David Lennon (@DPLennon) May 10, 2020
Players thought agreed to pro-rated salaries on Mar. 26, but owners point to clause that calls for more discussion if no fans/neutral sites. https://t.co/BHZQWOVJVP
So the 70 percent figure cited by Ricketts — I presume he’s referring strictly to Cubs revenue — is considerably higher than the average for teams as a whole.
Certainly, I understand that teams are losing all kinds of money without having any fans in the stands, but I had not thought the Cubs’ figure would be that high.
Ricketts said that the plan for baseball returning, not just to Chicago but for anywhere in MLB, would have to satisfy three main requirements: Safety, economics and local political requirements. The latter will determine whether the Cubs — or any team — will actually be able to play games (or host “Spring Training 2.0”) in its home park. I’ll have more on what a 2020 MLB schedule could look like and health and safety for the players coming up at 10 a.m. CT.
Crane Kenney expressed hope that would be the case, and also hoped fans might actually be allowed back into ballparks later this year. He said that season-ticket holders would likely be given priority if that’s the case. He noted that the Cubs would coordinate with the city of Chicago regarding the area around Wrigley Field and that there would likely not be gatherings permitted in Gallagher Way, as the question was raised whether fans would be allowed to watch games on the big screen in the plaza area.
Personally, I continue to believe that likely won’t be possible in 2020 and that the earliest any fans will be able to return to Wrigley Field and other ballparks will be in 2021. Kenney did commit to not raising ticket prices for season-ticket holders in 2021.
For those of you wondering about a deal between Marquee Sports Network and Comcast/Xfinity, Kenney said the parties were very close to a deal when baseball was shut down March 12, just two weeks before the original Opening Day. He expressed confidence that Marquee and Comcast will come to an agreement before any 2020 season begins. I personally hope so, as a Comcast subscriber that’s the way I would be watching games.
Lauren Fritts, Cubs VP of Marketing, was asked about plans for a 2021 Cubs Convention. She was fairly noncommittal about the event, saying the team is still looking into it. Like many large-scale events, the Cubs Convention might not be something that’s permitted in the city of Chicago until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine.
During the call it was revealed that the Cubs have hired three organists to replace Gary Pressy, who retired at the end of the 2019 season. The names of the three were not revealed.
Lastly, I want you to know that Tom Ricketts surprised all of us by appearing on the video meeting sporting a full salt-and-pepper beard. Sorry that I didn’t save a screencap of this. He looks... different.
Thanks to the Cubs for making Tom Ricketts, Crane Kenney and other executives available for this call. I’m hopeful we’ll see some baseball later this summer.