12.05.08

Paul Sullivan, Trib Stenographer, Reveals the Cubs’ 2009 “Platinum” Plan

Posted in Baseball, Sports Journalism at 10:44 pm by


[Cub Chairman Crane Kenney, just before he put Paul Sullivan on his knee to take dictation.]

First, Greg Maddux let it be known this evening he’ll anounce his retirement on Monday, and the odds of his entering the Hall of Fame in a Cubs hat are lower than those of Mark Cuban entering Wrigley in one next year.  The greatest pitcher of his generation to wear a Cubs uniform (or just the greatest of his generation, period) never pitched a World Series for the Cubs “ ok, true of 99% of living pitchers, but still “ a no-hitter, and certainly not the bulk of his 355 wins.  It’ll be a Braves hat, and I’m not even counting the Cubs letting him go the first time with (allegedly) an offer on the table or ignominiously sending him to the West Coast a few years ago like a horse to the glue factory.

That bit of blown greatness aside, The Tribune’s Paul Sullivan wins his Tribco employee of the month stripes this evening for his interview with Cubs chairman Crane Kenny.  It at least shows the business end of the Cubs is playing for keeps.  First, Sullivan is handed a story the Sun-Times sure didn’t get, and he kept his health benefits intact by keeping Topic A of the team’s sale off the table:  What about Mark Cuban?  Instead, Kenney only offers that the deal should be done by spring training, and if not: “Sam doesn™t operate under any deadline for this … It could take as long as he wants it to, but for all of our benefit, we hope by spring training we™re finished.”

Well, that clears that up.  Nothing along the lines of, say, who told Cuban not to bid?  The SEC?  Baseball owners?  Selig himself?  Or, does Cuban’s original front-running bid still stand?  Sullivan also submerges the story’s most interesting insight re the Cub high command:  Kenney’s new method of calculating how to raise ticket prices.  Apparently, Kenney needed a computer to tell him that Cub games v the White Sox, Cardinals, and Brewers are in higher demand than, say, a Cub v Marlins match.  Yep, this whiz kid got to the top on brainpower, baby, and nothing else.  Specifically, Kenney monitors Stub Hub, for which he’s come up with his new operation, code name: “platinum.”

œWe™re going to leave ticket prices flat for 33 percent of the part, and then selectively raise prices for our best inventory in other places, Kenney said. œThe biggest change is we™ve added another tier of seats. We used to have regular, value and prime [seats]. We™re now using the Olympic medals, gold, silver and bronze, and added a platinum level. The big change is there are 14 games we put into platinum level and, generally, that is driving our ticket increases.

The Cubs determined the platinum level tier by the demand for tickets in 2008 from fans using the Stub Hub brokerage to buy their tickets. The Sox, Cardinals, Brewers and Mets games were the most popular tickets on the resale market.

œStub Hub has become like UPS, Kenney said. œPeople are just using it, and MLB has done a global deal with Stub Hub. We learned a lot about how are tickets are treated. And what we learned is, quite appropriately, a lot of our season ticket holders use those marquee games (to sell) and underwrite their whole season. If they move those seats, they basically can offset the cost of the rest of the season.

œWe looked at those 14 games that really move actively, and a big portion of our house trades with those seats, and we did take those up more than average. But if you exclude those tickets, our ticket prices are going up overall 6 percent.

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