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Bleed Cubbie Blue Interviews Cubs Owner as well as President

Al Yellon of Bleed Cubbie Blue had the opportunity to interview the Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts and team president Crane Kenney.  It's a long and very detailed interview that answers pretty much every question that the Cubs fan might have about their team.  For me, this was an incredibly candid answer that shows the impact that the SB Nation communities are having on groups like the Cubs ownership group.

BCB: At the Convention you took a poll about a Jumbotron and it was about 50-50. What’s your official thinking about that at this point?

TR: My initial thinking is one day at a time. I don’t know where we’d put it. I’m not sure how it would work. There are going to be people that want it, people that don’t want it. I think the one thing that fans have to keep in mind is that when we pass on those kind of opportunities we’re passing on the economics of those opportunities. And if you ask someone would you like to see a Jumbotron someday at Wrigley maybe it’s 50-50. But if you say what if that Jumbotron delivered an extra $10 million a year to player budgets, they’d say that’s a no brainer. Anyway, we don’t have any plans right now to do it. Maybe down the line. We’ll take it one step at a time and work with people to make sure it’s something that IF we do, it won’t ruin the experience.

CK: Let me give you a little spin on it. You and I have talked about the revenue we’ve been trying, and I think your site as well as any has been a great forum for debate. One time years ago you said, "I wonder if he reads this." I do read it. And actually I read the question and should have sent back something to say I do. So it’s interesting, my focus groups, I do this during the season, but reading your open blog forums and the dialogue that goes on it’s really instructive for us, so we do read it. We did a number of things over the years that were really a nice revenue projects for us. Rebuilding the bleachers, no brainer. Great payback. Adding the premium seats behind home plate, great payback on those. The Captain Morgan Club. So while Tribune owned the club they did free up some capital to some projects where I could prove great return for them. And they let us keep some of that and that’s how the payroll went from $80 million to $140 million. What’s been great with the Ricketts family is that all the projects that we’re talking about here haven’t really created any new revenue. So bigger, wider restrooms, more fixtures for men and women. We’re not going to make any more money as a result of that. A new weight room for the players. A new kitchen for the players. A new lounge for the players. Maybe they’ll play a little better as a result. Maybe that’ll help us win more. Taking the concrete panels off and exposing more of the building to some light and air. All of these projects that we’ve stored up but could never justify with Tribune to get the financing to do them, the family has said if they’re good projects and they have a good basis for doing them, then do them, even if you can’t necessarily tell us the exact return on them. What you’re seeing now are these fan amenities. These are all fan improvements or player improvements that I couldn’t justify to anyone were going to put another dollar in the cash register, so that’s been a great thing. And the other real positive has been that the family has committed that all of the revenue that we do create, the new revenue, will go back into the club. Every penny. So, as we do look to new revenue sources, and you’ll see some of that with some new marketing in the ballpark, the fans can trust and know that every single penny is going to either help save Wrigley Field or improve the club.