The fourth management session Saturday at the Cubs Convention was with Crane Kenney and the Business Operations Department.
Crane Kenney provided updates on the business side of the team and was joined by Carl Rice, Alison Miller, Colin Faulkner and Alex Sugarman when he opened up the session for questions.
The Cubs provided a detailed update on the Wrigley Field restoration and renovation project and said they have adjusted the off-season construction schedule moving forward.
The Cubs are now budgeting for only 20-week off-season work schedules rather than 26-week work schedules due to the expectations the team will be participating in the post-season. As a result, the project will likely cost more and take a little longer to complete.
Crane Kenney did not give an updated timeframe for completion of The 1060 Project with the adjusted work schedules or how much the changes will increase the final cost.
The Cubs did significantly increased the facilities budget and resources to support Wrigley Field.
Here are the highlights from Saturday’s session with the Cubs Business Operations Department along with renderings of the new clubhouse and locker room.
Crane Kenney started the hour-long session by thanking the fans for the sensational season, and for the overwhelming enthusiasm shown at this year’s convention. More than 4,000 attended Opening Ceremonies on Friday night, far and away the largest crowd ever to kickoff Cubs Convention. The banquet hall was expanded as much as possible and still wasn’t big enough to hold everyone that wanted to attend Opening Ceremony. Kenney apologized to those that had to watch on the monitors outside the hall.
Kenney then asked for everyone at the session to stand. Five years ago the Cubs asked for support and patience from the fan base because they knew there would be growing pains from the product on the field to the construction at the ballpark as well as long days in court rooms and at City Hall. Kenney went onto explain the greatest fans in sports that supported the Cubs throughout the years deserved a ‘Thank You’ from the team and a standing ovation.
The Cubs asked the season ticket holders and fans that attend the games to be patient when last season started as delays beyond the teams control kept the bleachers from being completed by Opening Night. The fans continue to be patient as the audio levels from the new video boards are worked on. The audio levels at the park will be adjusted until the permanent solution is in place when the concourse construction is finished in 2018.
“We will continue to work as hard as we can to both respect the ballpark, make sure we preserve it the way it should be and bring modern amenities to our fan base,” Kenney said.
Additional patience will be required from the fans during the upcoming season as construction continues in and around Wrigley. The Cubs are breaking ground on the new boutique hotel across the street from Wrigley Field. The Plaza and office building will come to life during the 2016 season.
Progress will also be made on the new western gate and it is scheduled to be completed by the end of the regular season. The Cubs know the construction will create challenges throughout the course of the season. Updates will be provided early and often as the Cubs work to improve the overall fan experience at Wrigley Field.
Crane Kenney asked for feedback on the Cubs installing video boards at Wrigley Field at a Cubs Convention nearly 10 years ago. The idea of video boards at Wrigley was not received very well a decade ago. And one fan at the time told Kenney that if the Cubs installed them at Wrigley he would never come to the ballpark again.
The Cubs listened to every comment and read every survey before moving forward with the video boards to ensure they would enhance the experience at Wrigley Field not take away from it. The Cubs spend a lot of time discussing the content that will be shown on the video boards. This past season, fans were treated to videos of Harry Caray, Ernie Banks and Ron Santo singing the 7th Inning Stretch. And fans were able to watch replays for the first time at Wrigley Field and not only of the players, but of the fans making incredible catches and the Blackhawks Stanley Cup final game during a rain delay. Plus the right field video board was nicknamed ‘the Schwarboard’ after Kyle Schwarber’s shot in Game 4 of the NLDS.
Carl Rice, Alison Miller and Allen Hermeling and their teams deserve the credit for integrating the video boards and the excellent content that celebrates the history of the Cubs and the ballpark while maintaining the focus on baseball.
The Cubs attendance increased by 300,000 (307,399) in 2015 and were just short of three million for the season (2,959,812) as many returned to Wrigley Field to cheer on the team.
Season-ticket holders renewed “at a 98 percent clip” for the upcoming season. And Kenney thanked the season-ticket holders for their amazing commitment to the organization.
The Cubs broke another Spring Training attendance record last year drawing more than 222,000, the largest single Spring Training attendance ever in either the Cactus or Grapefruit League. The Cubs also set single-game Spring Training attendance records. And this year, Spring Training ticket sales have already doubled with several games sold out.
Nearly 400,000 man hours have been spent over the last 18 months working on Wrigley Field. The Cubs project team has employed close to 1,500 construction workers making the 1060 Project one of the largest construction projects in the state. Progress was followed last year as the construction on the bleachers was completed, structural work was also completed in the concourse and the foundation was laid for the office building in the Plaza that houses the clubhouse. The significant structural work happened behind the scenes and wasn’t as visible to fans but very critical to many of the new features and amenities that will be added in future years.
Restoring Wrigley Field is a very complex project. Every move involves a team of historic restoration architects to make sure the Cubs are preserving historic features or recreating them as they’ve been lost over decades of changes that were made to the ballpark.
Moving forward the Cubs are now budgeting for only 20-week off-season work schedules rather than 26-week work schedules due to the expectations the team will be participating in the post-season. As a result, the project will likely cost more and take a little longer to complete. Having to re-start the project in November the Cubs view as a pretty good trade off. The new clubhouse, ticket office, Plaza and office development and structural work in the seating bowl and main concourse are being worked on this off-season.
The Cubs new clubhouse is on schedule to be completed by the home opener. When it’s finished, the Cubs will have one of the largest clubhouses in baseball and will end up costing more than any other clubhouse in baseball to build.
Around 28,000 of the 30,000 square foot clubhouse will be on the Plaza side. The other 2,000 square feet will be on the ballpark side and house the batting cages and other spaces. The Cubs new weight room will be 4,000 square feet, a rather big improvement from the 750 square foot weight room from last season.
The old locker room has been demolished. It no longer exists.
Once the clubhouse at Wrigley is finished, the Cubs will have completed the journey of going from worst to first as it relates to the baseball facilities.
The Plaza outside of Wrigley will be under construction throughout the season and is scheduled to be completed toward the end of the regular season. The Cubs are gearing for it to be open by October in time for the post-season.
Construction continued on the center field bleachers this off-season. Once this work is finished, the bleacher project will be completed. A Budweiser Bleacher Bar is being added near the entrance on the ground floor. The Cubs are bringing back the planter boxes that graced the upper deck of the bleachers decades ago.
The Cubs are also working on an initiative to highlight the history of Wrigley Field. After the restoration of the left and right field bleachers was completed, the Cubs began exploring how they could use the expanded concourse underneath the seats. Beginning this year, the Cubs will have an interactive history display that will feature photos and images highlighting great baseball and non-baseball moments at Wrigley.
The majority of the Friday afternoon games will not start at 3:05pm CDT this season. The Cubs have moved those start times back to 1:20pm CDT at the request of Joe Maddon, the players and Baseball Operations. There are a few TBDs left on the schedule for Friday games at Wrigley.
The Cubs decided to forgo the 3:05pm CDT start times on Fridays in 2016. Joe Maddon asked for the start times at Wrigley to be as consistent as possible so the players can maintain a routine. The Cubs do not control start times for national broadcasts but the games they can control will all start at 1:20pm CDT on Fridays.
During the Owners Meeting this week, teams will meet with the Director of Homeland Security. The Cubs take the security issue very seriously. Magnetometers are being installed at Wrigley for the upcoming season. Large venues, like Wrigley Field, are targets and the Cubs plan to do everything possible to protect the fans, players and the neighborhood.
The Cubs are also asking the city to extend the perimeter of the team’s control by 100 feet in every direction. Kenney explained the Cubs do not want to own 100 feet in every direction but they would like to know who is near the park, what they are driving and why they are there.
As for closing the streets around Wrigley, Waveland Ave. cannot be closed because of the fire station. Emergency vehicles must have access. The Cubs feel Sheffield Ave. would give the team a great opportunity because it’s near the ‘L’ to turn it into a pedestrian mall. It’s on the Cubs’ list of projects.
The brick pavers have been replaced with brand new bricks. The old brick pavers that were removed have been destroyed. The new bricks will be installed outside of the bleacher walls and unveiled for the home opener.
And the last question of the session was about a Cubs Network down the line. The Cubs gain full control of the rights to the games after the 2019 season. Starting in 2020, the Cubs would be able to launch their own network, which the team has great interest in doing. The World is changing dramatically and really quickly as it relates to cable television. The Cubs are keeping a close eye on how it is developing. Crane Kenney reiterated the Cubs are interested in having their own network.
2016 Cubs Convention
- A Grand Opening to the 2016 Cubs Convention
- Day Two of 2016 Cubs Convention: The Ricketts Family Forum
- Day Two of 2016 Cubs Convention: Baseball Management with Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer
- Day Two of 2016 Cubs Convention: Joe Maddon and the Coaching Staff
- Day Three of 2016 Cubs Convention: Down on the Farm with Jason McLeod, Jaron Madison
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