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Volume 26 No. 65
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Cubs Look For Unique Ways To Engage Fans Outside Of Baseball

Kenney said fans now want more out of their experience than simply watching the game
Photo: DAVID DUROCHIK

The Cubs on Thursday announced the start of their third annual celebrity chef series, in which acclaimed foodmakers from around the city spot up for a homestand at Wrigley Field to serve their take on ballpark food. Maker’s Mark is on board as presenting sponsor. It’s a perfect example of how the Cubs, Hickory Street Capital and Marquee Sports & Entertainment Group used data to find ways to wring more revenue out of the limited space at Wrigley. “That all came out of the research,” said Cubs President of Business Operationis Crane Kenney on Day 2 at the ‘19 Intersport Brand Engagement & Content Summit. “We have really sophisticated fans, they know a lot about baseball, they also know a lot about the culinary arts. When they come to Wrigley, they want to do more than come and eat a hot dog, drink a warm beer and watch a bad baseball team. Fortunately we’ve fixed most of that.”

ALL ABOUT RESEARCH: Throughout the course of their overhaul of Wrigley Field and its immediate surroundings, the Cubs and their partners were challenged by basic math: How to generate enough revenue to justify an extraordinary cost in a tight space? The answer was to rigorously research fan interests and let the data point the way. Now, more than 240 special events in the Gallagher Way Entertainment District fill the schedule, from concerts to movies to free yoga classes and more, complimenting the regular baseball schedule and in-venue improvements. When fans like an idea, sponsors follow. “One of our fastest growing revenue lines is what we’ve done on our sponsorship side outside,” Kenney said. Marquee Senior VP Cale Vennum said data showed how Chicagoans differ from fans in other places. “We found what was different about our fans,” he said. "And not just a cookie cutter millennial approach.”