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A new, two-level bar/restaurant will open at the Cell next week, the BP Crosstown Cup will be advertised more aggressively this June, and the
Sox will wear their white pinstripe uniforms more often this season.
Those are a few of the insights White Sox
Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Brooks Boyer shared in a conference call yesterday afternoon with a motley crew of bloggers from various White Sox sites. (So if you see a bunch of other articles just like this across the internet, yeah, we’re all cool.)
The most exciting news Boyer discussed was the opening of Bacardi at the Park, the new food, drink and general hanging out establishment by Gate 5, just north of 35th Street, that will make its debut at the Sox home opener next Thursday. The new joint, which will be open all day long- generally two and a half hours before the game until two hours after the last out- will feature 67 flat screen televisions, a menu catered by Gibson’s and room for up to 350 guests.
I will try to snap a few photos of the place when I visit for a pre- or post-game beer next week.
Boyer said the Score’s morning hosts, Mulley and Hanley, will officially kick off Bacardi at the Park with a remote broadcast beginning at 5 AM next Thursday, the first of what will likely be many radio and television live remotes. Boyer’s goal is to make the restaurant a destination of its own (you don’t need a game ticket to get in), and he points to that evening’s Bulls/Celtics game as a perfect chance for fans to hang around Bacardi at the Park after the afternoon’s Sox game.
Bacardi at the Park will only be open on game days for now, but if the location catches on as a hang out for non-Sox game events (like that Bulls/Celtics game), it will soon open on off days as well. Sox fans are always clamoring for a place to go around the park before or after the game, and with a food menu crafted by Gibson’s and drinks by Bacardi, this looks like it might be a winner.
Other new things at the park this year? Boyer talked about the brand new Metra Rock Island line stop at 35th Street, complete with dedicated Sox trains that leave right after the game, that will help alleviate traffic concerns. He also talked up new ballpark organist Lori Moreland, who has the unenviable task of replacing the legendary Nancy Faust. Moreland, who won the job after an in-ballpark try-out (with people in the stands giving feedback), will make her debut at the home opener next Thursday, though her season schedule has not yet been set. (Boyer said a full 81 days “would be tough”.)
If there was as a one-word summary for the rest of Boyer’s message, it would be “aggressive”. The Sox front office was aggressive in putting a quality team on the field, the marketing team set an aggressive budget to promote said team, and sponsor BP will be aggressive in its visibility advertising its Crosstown Cup, presented to the winner of the Sox/Cubs interleague series.
The Gulf Coast oil spill, as well as the Blackhawks Stanley Cup run, took a lot of the luster off of last year’s inaugural BP Cup. Nonetheless, Boyer said he was “really excited” about the BP Cup this season and a “long-time partnership” going forward. “It’s not the World Series trophy,” he conceded, “but it still means something.” Maybe to the casual fans. But the diehards will still probably roll their eyes at the idea of added importance to six mid-season, already over-dramatized, out-of-division games. (And Derrick Rose might have something to say about putting everything else on the back burner this June.)
The BP sponsorship is part of a general swelling in the marketing department, which has to bring in significant revenue to justify the team’s lofty payroll. White Sox sponsorship dollars dipped after 2007- when the team and the economy both tanked. Boyer said things have been on the upswing for three straight years now, and that he anticipates an increase again in 2011, when everything is set and done. That is of course good news, as the general formula tells us that more sponsorship revenue = more $$ to players = more winning.
Aside from new sponsorships (Boyer said a new name will be announced for the former Jim Beam club soon), more revenue will accumulate for the Sox through dynamic ticket pricing, which will allow the club to change a given day’s ticket prices based on a variety factors including weather, team record and giveaways. The system was tested out late last fall with, it was noted, limited dynamism. But with a few tweaks Boyer says this season the dynamic option will be a boon to value-seekers on slow days as well as profit-maximizer for the team on busy days. As with the case of all degrees of price discrimination, this will probably benefit the team more than the fans (i.e. don’t expect $5 upper deck tickets any time soon). Keep an eye on premium lower box and outfield seats, where this system will kick in first.
Boyer also touched on the sensitive uniform issue. Sox fans are still upset over the removal of the diamond sock patch on the road gray uniforms, and most believe Boyer’s rationale of “image branding” doesn’t justify a clearly inferior fashion decision. He reiterated that branding logic to us, saying that although he liked the diamond patch, his main directive was to get the “Sox” logo on that jersey to present a consistent image. I didn’t buy it then, and I don’t buy it now: though its not at the top of my list of important beefs, I do agree with the consensus of Sox fans that it was a needless change. The road ray does happen to be my favorite uniform, but at least I’ll always have my road gray authentic “Buehrle”, complete with diamond logo patch. You can take away my freedom, but you’ll never get my diamond-patch jersey!
Speaking of uniforms, Boyer did mention the team will be wearing their home white pinstripes more often this season. In recent years, the alternate black jerseys have taken a precedence, and though Boyer says he holds no sway at all in the clubhouse, he was promised the white pinstripes would carry more of the load in 2011.
Oh, and will any more Sox players be joining Twitter this season?
Brooks laughed that one off:
“Given what’s happened in the past with some people in the clubhouse, and some people who thought they were in the clubhouse, I don’t think that’s something Kenny and Ozzie are pushing.”
Good call, guys.