SBD/October 15, 2013/Franchises

Cubs Unveil $1.1M "Presentation Room" As Push To Boost Long-Term Sponsorships

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).
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