SBD/October 15, 2013/FranchisesPrint All
The Cubs on Friday unveiled a $1.1M "presentation room," where team Chair Tom Ricketts and Chicago-based W Partners are "selling potential advertisers on their planned remodel of Wrigley Field and construction of an adjacent hotel and plaza," according to Melissa Harris of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. The Cubs to pay for the estimated $500M project are "demanding among the lengthiest sponsorship agreements in professional sports -- up to 20 years -- in exchange for exclusive marketing rights in select categories, such as beer, soda and financial services." Sources said that the strategy "so far had instigated at least one bidding war between MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch." W Partners CEO Wally Hayward said, "We've spent three years kind of designing the future model, and what we don't want to do is overclutter everything." The preview center is across the street from Wrigley, at the corner of Clark St. and Waveland Ave., and its "front room is modeled after what a corporate suite would look like at a renovated Wrigley." Before leaving this room, potential advertisers "watch an eight-minute video narrated by actor and Chicago native Joe Mantegna that opens with a Cubs walk-off home run and highlights its 'treasured traditions.'" It ends with a "segment from a ... video game showing what would happen -- in the streets, in offices, in bars, in the stadium -- if the Cubs won a World Series." Cubs VP/Sales & Partnerships Colin Faulkner said that the team's attendance slide presents "a challenge as all of the Cubs' major sponsorship agreements expire in 2013 or 2014." That excludes Anheuser-Busch and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, which "were inked under the new campaign." Hayward said that pitches "began in May, and negotiations are expected to last another 18 months." PepsiCo and State Farm are "among companies in negotiations" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/12).
HOLDING THE LINE ON TICKET PRICES: ESPN CHICAGO's Jon Greenberg noted the Cubs "are not raising season-ticket prices" for the '14 season. It is the "third year in a row the Cubs aren't raising overall ticket prices under the Ricketts family ownership." The Cubs drew 2,642,682 fans to Wrigley Field this season, their "worst attendance since 1998." However, it still was the "12th-highest figure" in MLB. The Cubs "haven't released single-game ticket prices, which will be slightly more expensive than season-ticket prices for the third straight year." Single tickets also are "priced 'dynamically,' which means the Cubs can increase them on a game-by-game basis, depending on several different factors, including scarcity." The Cubs will "still have five pricing tiers." A 350-seat section down the left-field line of the upper deck "will be priced at $19 for every game, no matter the tier." These tickets "won't be available on a season-ticket basis and will only be delivered digitally" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 10/14). In Chicago, Danny Ecker noted seats will "range from $8 per game for upper-deck reserved seats on lower-demand games to $112 on the high end for marquee game club box seats." There are 35 night games at Wrigley slated for '14, "up from 27 this season, and a total of 63 night and weekend games are scheduled, up from 57 this year" (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 10/14).
Michael Waltrip Racing will "downsize from three to two full-time Sprint Cup teams next season after big-ticket sponsor NAPA left last month," according to Nate Ryan of USA TODAY. MWR will "field the Toyotas that have been driven by Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers, shuttering the No. 56 Toyota of Martin Truex Jr. that was sponsored by NAPA." A third car will "run in select races," starting with co-Owner Michael Waltrip at the '14 Daytona 500. While the team is "losing roughly a third of its sponsor revenue with NAPA's departure, 85% of MWR's employees will be retained." Truex and crew chief Chad Johnson have "been given permission to negotiate with other teams." Truex is "the favorite to fill in at Furniture Row Racing next season when Kurt Busch leaves to become the fourth driver at Stewart-Haas Racing." It is not known if NAPA would join Truex "in such a move." MWR "isn't certain how many races it'll field a third car." Team co-Owner Rob Kauffman was "optimistic it could land some additional sponsorship." However, Kauffman "won't be funding it out of his own pocket," as he has done to "help fill gaps on Bowyer's car this year" with sponsorship by his RK Motors restoration business (USA TODAY, 10/15). Kauffman: “When you need to look at a reorganization of a company, you have to be very open-minded about everything you consider. ... We have some important responsibilities to all of our employees, to our partners and sponsors so we needed to make a decision in a compressed time frame” ("NASCAR Now," ESPN2, 10/15). Meanwhile, Kauffman said that MWR's relationship with Toyota "had not been compromised from the downsizing." He said Toyota execs have been "terrific supporters, very helpful through this period as they have been all along" (FOXSPORTS.com, 10/14).
QUESTIONS ABOUT THE DRIVER'S SEAT: SPORTING NEWS' Bob Pockrass noted Kauffman "would not say if MWR looked to keep Truex at the expense of Vickers, who already has a contract with the team and sponsor Aaron's for next season." Vickers will "miss the final four races of 2013 because of a blood clot in his right calf." Kauffman said that Vickers' health is "their first concern and was not ready to talk about what the team would do if he can't return" for next season (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 10/14). Meanwhile, Fox' Larry McReynolds wondered where NAPA would go next season. McReynolds: "Do they follow Martin Truex Jr? Do they take a year off from the sport, which I would certainly hate to see?" ("NASCAR Race Hub," FS1, 10/14).
ADDITION BY SUBTRACTION? Kauffman discussed the Chase for the Sprint Cup and said, "It's not a matter of simply just being there. We wanted to make sure we were able to field even more competitive cars in the future. The team that won the championship last year (Penske Racing) had two cars, so it seems like that's something you can potentially strive do." ESPN's Ricky Craven said of Kauffman, "He has very good business sense and this announcement reflects that. Cutting back a team allows you to be more efficient, and even though you're giving up something on the top line as far as income, you're going to be more efficient and essentially could be faster" ("NASCAR Now," ESPN2, 10/14).
WNBA Lynx Exec VP Roger Griffith yesterday said that the team has "sold more than 500 new season tickets for the 2014 season after winning the WNBA championship last week." In St. Paul, Tim Leighton noted that "brings the season-tickets base to 3,000 for next season." The Lynx "finished second in league attendance" in '13, averaging 9,381 fans (TWINCITIES.com, 10/14).
THINK PINK: In Jacksonville, Drew Dixon reported the Jaguars this year for the first time are "getting involved in actual fund-raising" for breast cancer awareness. The Jaguars "deck their players in pink cleats, wrist bands and towels," and the team website is "offering team gear that features the pink touches designed to highlight breast cancer awareness." But the organization ultimately is "getting involved in several events, especially over the next week, to help women’s cancer organizations." The Jaguars Women’s Association on Thursday "will host an NFL 101 Workshop for Women at the west Touchdown Club at EverBank Field" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 10/11).
UP IN ARMS: The GUARDIAN's Owen Gibson writes EPL club Arsenal Owner Stan Kroenke this week will "come under pressure for reneging on promises made when he bought the club," with supporters' groups "accusing him of failing to schedule a single meeting with them in more than two years." Four of the main fan groups before Thursday's annual meeting at the Emirates "have written to Kroenke to remind him of the pledge he made in his formal offer document to make it 'a priority to meet with supporters and fan groups in formal and informal settings.'" Kroenke in the document "made a firm commitment to meet fans and his failure to do so has prompted some to consider reporting him to the takeover panel for reneging on his commitment" (GUARDIAN, 10/15).