SBJ/Sept. 9-15, 2013/Facilities

Little Wrigley, big screen highlight Cubs’ pitch to sponsors

Don Muret
The Chicago Cubs have put the finishing touches on their new marketing center by installing a model of what a renovated Wrigley Field and surrounding development will look like after the entire $500 million project is completed.

The Cubs call the $1.1 million center their “presentation room.” It spans two rooms on the ground floor of an old concessions storage warehouse near the corner of Clark Street and Waveland Avenue, across the street from the ballpark. The Cubs moved their business operations there in 2012.

The model, produced by Presentation Studios International, a Chicago firm, is a key piece for renewing sponsorships and premium seats in addition to selling new inventory tied to ballpark upgrades. The Wrigley Field renovation alone is a $300 million project.
 
The model sits on a conference table in the second of the two rooms. It shows an upgraded Wrigley Field in addition to the boutique hotel planned across the street where a McDonald’s restaurant stands, plus the retail component.

The model in the new marketing center includes a detailed, remodeled Wrigley and the development planned around it.
Photos by: STEVE GREEN / CHICAGO CUBS (2)
Presentation Studios officials painstakingly inserted all 40,000 seats by hand as part of the model, said Wally Hayward, CEO of W Partners, the agency hired by the Cubs to market the commercial aspects of the Wrigley upgrades and surrounding development.

The model’s intricacies extend to individual suites with customized graphics on the walls and seating sections that light up, Hayward said.

“The model looks at the whole campus, and the detail is unbelievable,” he said.

It took a while to complete the model because of all the approvals required by the city and neighborhood groups on the finer points of the renovation, said Hayward, the Cubs’ former executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer.

Since the presentation room opened in April, the Cubs have used the space to pitch existing sponsors on multiyear deals they call Legacy Partnerships. More than a dozen current partners have been through the presentation, but Hayward would not identify them.

The new deals, valued in the seven figures annually, cover the team and Wrigley, the Cubs’ new spring training facility in Arizona opening next spring, and the hotel and proposed retail development, Hayward said.

The Cubs are marketing 13 to 15 Legacy Partnerships. Some deals cover naming rights to five gates at Wrigley Field, including a new entrance planned for Clark Street with access to the new development on the ballpark’s west side, Hayward said.
 
Many of the Cubs’ deals expire after the 2013 season, including exclusives in the beer, soda, consumer electronics, airline and spirits categories, Hayward said.

The presentation room spaces are themed with a mini-Wrigley marquee and green doors similar to those in the park’s ivy-covered outfield walls. New technology includes the “Cubbie Strator,” which allows clients to draw key positions on a 103-inch Panasonic screen to designate where they want to put their brands in the park, Hayward said.

> TICKET TAKE: DePaul University has signed a five-year deal with Paciolan to take over its sports ticketing. The agreement took effect in August and ends DePaul’s 17-year relationship with Ticketmaster.

DePaul needed to upgrade its ticketing system on campus and chose Paciolan, which has deals with more than 100 colleges, said Peter Tombasco, associate athletic director for external affairs. DePaul’s investment was between $70,000 and $90,000.

The fourth year of the deal coincides with the planned opening of a new arena for DePaul in downtown Chicago. The ticketing partner for that proposed 10,000-seat facility has not been determined, but all sports tickets sold through DePaul’s athletics site will be processed through Paciolan, Tombasco said.

DePaul plays men’s basketball games at Allstate Arena, a Ticketmaster client. Tickets bought through Paciolan will be accepted by the arena’s ticketing system on game days, said Dave Butler, Paciolan’s CEO.

Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @breakground.

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