SBJ/March 18-24, 2013/Facilities

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  • For Cubs, dynamic pricing’s a one-way street

    The Chicago Cubs will dynamically price all seats at Wrigley Field this season but have no intention of dropping single-game tickets below their original price.

    The Cubs first tested dynamic pricing last year for 5,000 bleacher seats. For 2013, team officials have developed a new program covering the entire 41,210-seat ballpark and reduced all ticket prices by an average of 2 percent, including a 10 percent price reduction for the bleacher seats that were part of the test.

    The Cubs lowered ticket prices but will raise them as supply tightens.
    Photo: DAVID DUROCHIK
    With pricing reduced, the Cubs will now dynamically price them higher during the season to generate revenue.

    “We will use dynamic pricing to capture upside as inventory decreases,” said Colin Faulkner, the Cubs’ vice president of sales and partnerships. “Pricing only goes up. We were more conservative on pricing this year and would rather start out lower and go up than the other way around.”

    The Cubs are not the first MLB team to put those restrictions on dynamic pricing, said Barry Kahn, CEO of Qcue, a software company that has dynamic pricing deals with sports franchises including the Cubs. Most teams tend to raise prices instead of reducing them, Kahn said.

    The Cubs’ strategy, like that of other teams using dynamic pricing, is to provide an incentive for fans to buy tickets early to take advantage of the best prices available, Faulkner said. The team explains the process for savings tied to dynamic pricing on its website, Cubs.com.

    “Buy Early and Save” has been the San Francisco Giants’ mantra since 2009, the year they became the first MLB team to use dynamic pricing, said Russ Stanley, the team’s managing vice president of ticket sales and services.

    The Giants also use Qcue, a firm with 20 MLB clients, 14 of whom dynamically price all single-game seats at their ballparks, Kahn said. The Cubs’ tweaks to dynamic pricing are a natural progression as the business model evolves, he said.

    The Giants dynamically price 10,000 to 12,000 individual tickets for every home game at AT&T Park, and 95 percent of the time prices start “creeping up instead of coming down” for those seats, Stanley said.

    Unlike the Cubs, though, the Giants will drop prices on the fly for games against divisional opponents Arizona, Colorado and San Diego because they play multiple series against those NL West clubs. (Longtime rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers are not on that list.)

    “When you are playing division rivals nine times a year at home, on a Monday night you have to be aggressive on the lower end,” Stanley said. “Plus, we’re not right every time. We may take a $10 [upper deck] ticket and raise it to $12 and it doesn’t sell, so we drop it to $8.”

    It has worked well, considering the Giants have a consecutive sellout streak dating to Oct. 1, 2010.

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  • Diamondbacks, Budweiser partner in reimagining restaurant

    The Arizona Diamondbacks and Budweiser are converting a restaurant next to Chase Field into the Game Seven Grill, themed after the team’s 2001 World Series title.

    The Diamondbacks, beer sponsor Budweiser and Levy Restaurants, the team’s food provider, are sharing the $1 million to $2 million cost to retheme the former Sliders American Grill in a 20,000-square-foot building outside the park’s main gate, club President and CEO Derrick Hall said. The Diamondbacks manage the building for Maricopa County, the property owner.

    Together, the three parties are putting a fresh look and a new name on the eatery, which can seat 450 diners. Levy, the restaurant’s operator, is replacing an old pizza kitchen with a new 1,850-pound smoker tied to a menu heavy on St. Louis-style ribs and barbecue pork, brisket and chicken platters.

    It will be operating for the first of two preseason games March 29 against Cincinnati.

    An early version of the menu lists Bud-battered onion rings and American Ale barbecue and cheese sauces, a few examples of how Anheuser-Busch plans to integrate its beer flavors into the dishes consumed by Diamondbacks fans.

    The menu is still in development, but, in general, plates of barbecue and fries should cost $7 to $10, Hall said.

    In addition, Budweiser’s brand will be prominently displayed inside and outside the restaurant. As part of its marketing platform with the team, the brewer will work with the Diamondbacks to book live music on a stage set up on the plaza in front of the establishment, Hall said.

    A rendering shows the Game Seven Grill, which is to open later this month just outside the main gate of Chase Field.
    Photo: PGAV DESTINATIONS
    Game Seven Grill’s decor will showcase game-used jerseys, programs, tickets and game balls from Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, in which the Diamondbacks defeated the New York Yankees.

    Game Seven Grill will be open only on game days. In the future, its hours could be extended for lunch or dinner on non-game days, Hall said.

    The rebranding was driven by the need to make a change after the Sliders concept ran its course after 10 seasons, he said. The old restaurant was run by a third party renting the space from the Diamondbacks with no involvement from the team or Levy.

    The Diamondbacks went to Budweiser for help to redevelop the space, Hall said. In turn, Budweiser hired PGAV Destinations, a local design firm that has done work for the brewer, to redecorate the restaurant.

    Bluemedia, another local company and the producer of stadium graphics for the 2011 All-Star Game at Chase Field, was also involved in developing the grill’s internal design.

    In Greater Phoenix, Game Seven Grill serves as a connection to the Budweiser Bowtie Bar, a new feature at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the spring training facility the Diamondbacks share with the Colorado Rockies in Scottsdale, Hall said.

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