Essay about 972014Chicago Cubs need more than Wrigley

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9/7/2014

Chicago Cubs need more than Wrigley Field to keep seats filled - ESPN Chicago

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Empty feeling
Cubs' dwindling local fan base screams for new ways to excite the masses
Updated: July 25, 2011, 9:22 AM ET
By Jon Greenberg | ESPNChicago.com
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http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/columns/story?id=6794275

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9/7/2014

Chicago Cubs need more than Wrigley Field to keep seats filled - ESPN Chicago

Brian D. Kersey/Getty
ImagesPlenty of good seats are available on many days at Wrigley Field during this disappointing season.
BREAKING NEWS: The biggest draw for the Chicago Cubs will always be Wrigley Field.
I know this. You know this. The Cubs know this. The seagulls know this.
The Cubs could field a modern-day equivalent to Murderers' Row and 37 percent of the crowd wouldn't be able to name three players on the field without a scorecard, iPhone app and George Will whispering in their ear.
I say 37 percent because that's the magic number for the Cubs. According to the Cubs' marketing studies, that chunk of their crowd is from out of state, mostly tourists. The Cubs were averaging 36,853 fans heading into
Friday's game, so that's a pretty big chunk of out-of-state fans.
In one sense, it proves what a tourist draw Wrigley Field is (which is why the Cubs want city tax money to subsidize renovations), but that study also proves the point of Cubs detractors who argue that a big chunk of the fan base is made up of tourists and dilettantes, people with no real vested interest in the team.
But even with a steady flow of Iowans and Texans, a bad team and high ticket prices almost assures thousands of empty seats most days -- the team is down 1,868 fewer fans per game than last year, and if that holds up, it means more than a 3,600 per-game decrease from 2009.
Church groups from Dubuque come and go, but the Cubs need desperate help to keep drawing in the locals; especially the real fans, who are both impassioned and disaffected with the state of this crumbling civic treasure
(the Cubs, not Wrigley).
Need a fresh example? Before Wednesday's steam-bath matinee against Philadelphia, I did a "best available" search for 19 contiguous seats (the maximum amount) and found 19 such tickets in Section 239 -- terrace reserved seats overlooking right field.
For Saturday's "marquee" priced game against last-place Houston, you could get 19 bleacher seats for the aweinspiring price of $1,629.45, or $85.76 a ticket. For comparison, Lambeau Field's main bowl is also bleachers, and the most expensive is $87.
You could say weather, hot or cold, scares buyers away, but I don't buy that totally. Weather certainly affects no-shows, but some of those seats should have been sold in February or March. But there's no buzz around this team, and hasn't been for years. http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/columns/story?id=6794275 2/7

9/7/2014

Chicago Cubs need more than Wrigley Field to keep seats filled - ESPN Chicago

The Cubs' marketing department is trying its hardest with unusual promotional items, like Wednesday's "chipand-dip platter" sponsored by Lay's and this weekend's "thumb foam finger" sponsored by a jeans company. No, it's not "Bad Idea Jeans."
The chip-and-dip platter is so dumb, it's almost inspired. I heard Wrigley Field security was especially pleased with the possibility of 10,000 projectiles, which is why they gave the first 10,000 fans vouchers to pick up the platters after the game.
So in the spirit of giving away heavy Frisbees to disappointed fans of a bad team, here are my marketing ideas to keep the house full the last two months, so Jim Hendry (Tom Ricketts willing) can throw some Ben Franklins around in the winter and things can get better.
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Jonathan Daniel/Getty
ImagesStarlin Castro…