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rockies dingerA little over a week ago, I reported that the Chicago Cubs were exploring some significant branding changes for 2014, including new logos, new uniforms, and a JumboTron.

The latter branding change is all about (well, aside from the revenue) the in-game experience, which is a huge part of a team’s brand. According to Paul Sullivan, who spoke with team Marketing Director Alison Miller, there are other in-game experience changes being considered … and I reckon you’ll have some opinions.

From the Tribune:

The Cubs are teaming up with Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management to conduct a survey involving kids’ experiences at Wrigley Field, asking selected fans to help provide the “right opportunities for your kids to connect with the team and grow as the next generation” of fans ….

“We’ve done a couple things just with trying to get better research on our fans, and just being smarter about what our fans want,” Cubs senior marketing director Alison Miller said. “We’ve done a lot of focus groups in the last couple of months.”

Among the kid-friendly topics fans were asked about were batting cages and radar gun zones, kids apps for smartphones and tablets, a kids section, a new Cubs song and “interaction with a mascot.”

Feel free to go absolutely nuts about the prospect of a mascot at Wrigley Field. I am actually in favor of *some* (subtle, non-invasive, minor) additions to the in-game experience which are kid-and-family-friendly. Family fan zone type things? Sure. Maybe a kids-focused half-inning with a special song and dance for kids in-between innings? That might be funny and cool (I seriously just came up with that – you’re welcome, Cubs). Watching a game at Wrigley Field is a hallowed, beautiful experience … for everyone over six. For the youngest set among us, I’d imagine it could be something of a bore. Spicing it up to keep parents sane isn’t the worst thing in the world.

But, there’s a limit. And I trust these smart Cubs executives to find that line. A bounding dinosaur or rabble-rousing chicken probably falls on the wrong side of that line. Incessant videos and pump-it-up songs are also on the wrong side of the line. Catering to families with young children is a nice ancillary goal, but it should not be the focus of the in-game experience. The focus at Wrigley Field is, and always should be, the baseball.

That said … if the Cubs do take on a mascot, can they steal DJ Kitty from the Rays?

  • Mike

    I don’t really care about a mascot one way or the other. But I will say…they are the Cubs as in baby bears as in a natural mascot. It won’t be a cat or a dinosaur or some other weird mascot. The other teams in Chicago all have mascots and does that really detract from anything? I think the Bulls have two mascots right? So get a costume with a head that looks like one of the classic cub logos and it wouldn’t be that bad.

    • hardtop

      im not defending the rockies or dinger (he’s the brother-in-law of a friend of mine) but there is actually a reason for the dinosaur mascot, its not random. When excavating for Coors Field, Dinosaur bones were discovered on the site. Fortunate for the team because a mountain dancing around would be really difficult to pull off; kids dont really get identify with large, natural formations of rock as much.

  • DB Kyle

    Kids adore mascots and they don’t hurt anyone. There’s no good argument against them that doesn’t fall into Lucille Bluth territory :)

    • Jed

      I think Buster’s sheep should be our mascot.

    • J Wilson

      They’re annoying, they get in the way of fans’ view of the field and seat ingress and egress…what more do you need? I HATE mascots. The only adults that like mascots are the same ones who bring gloves to the games because they’re huge sissies (they like mascots, so that’s a given) to afraid to catch bare-handed. And I don’t know who Bluth is, is that important?

      • Hansman1982

        Are you envisioning hundreds of mascots running all over the grandstands? Here in Des Moines, Cubbie Bear moves about and doesn’t block much of the action when he is in your area and the kids love him.

        Do something like him and I think it would be a net positive.

        • J Wilson

          No, I’m not thinking of a minor-league type scenario. I just think we need to stop “catering to the kids” so much. I mean look at the fan demographics at Wrigley, what is the percentage who are under 10-12yrs old? Maybe 5-10%? I couldn’t stand that old doofus Johnny Woo-Woo, and he was one man.

          • cedlandrum

            Stop catering so much? There is actually very little that caters to young ones at Wrigley. Also do you really think it is a good thing that the number of young fans is in the 5-10% range in your opinion? I don’t! We need young fans to fall in love with the game.

            • Hansman1982

              Nope, we just need to clear out the seats and have one recliner for Wilson. Screw the fact that ill spend far more at the ballpark when my son is with me. Or that if I can’t take him I would chose other things to do with him.

              • J Wilson

                I’m not retired, I’m 27. I don’t know how anything I said was selfish (re: your implication that I want a recliner). When I went to games at a young age, all I cared about was baseball, and I didn’t piss & moan between innings because there wasn’t a bloody mascot. The whole premise is nonsense, in my opinion. Keep mascots out. If you want mascots, go to a minor league game. Tell your kids to STFU if they get bored and appreciate the fact that they can go to a game. My dad would have bought nose-bleeders if I complained and given the good seats to my friends.

                • Hansman1982

                  Ahhh the nostalgic notions of our youth. I remember that I was an angel kid who always listened to my parents. Had i acted up My parents would have boughten the tickets and then ate them before my very eyes. This was until my parents told me that they had to tie a piece of rope to me so I wouldn’t wander off at the store.

                  What you don’t remember is being completely bored with the game by the 2nd inning when you were really young, or ready to leave by the 7th inning when you were a bit older. In reality, had your father been able to point out a mascot to you and watch your face light up with joy over something so silly, he would have been ecstatic to do so.

                  I’m just as much a fan of the Cubs and of the game as you are but any notion that baseball is only about going to the game and watching 50 guys play with a little white ball for 3 hours is silly. From the games earliest days there were mascots and silly things and outfield advertisements. It’s Ken Burns who lets you believe differently.

                  • J Wilson

                    Haha, I respect the humor. My father took me to my first MLB game when I was 10 or 11 (I know b/c it was when I was in the 9-10 or 11-12 little league). It wasn’t just the baseball that kept my attention, it was seeing how the players/manager acted in the dugout between innings and how the players warmed up (so I could imitate them on the field), and just the big league stadium being so green and huge. Maybe I was different, I don’t know. I do know, however, that I was never bored by the 2nd inning. I wasn’t like the adderall generation today. And yes, my dad beat me on the ass w/ a 2×4 on occasion when I wasn’t an angel, and yes, I think it built character.

                    • 100 Years of Tears

                      You’re 27… That IS the Adderall generation. And enjoying the game at 9 or 10 is a whole lot different than a 5 or 6 year old trying to pay attention.

                  • J Wilson

                    If the Cubs decided to have a decreased ticket price for kids on certain days (‘bronze’ games), I would support that for sure. I’m not against kids being at ballgames at all, but I am against introducing new BS schemes for a small minority of those in attendance. There, I’m done. Hopefully the Cubs can avoid giving up 8 runs in an inning today.

            • J Wilson

              Because tickets are pricey, most fans can’t afford to bring their kids to many games. I don’t think any additional kid-friendly schemes will increase the number of kids in attendance. Is a parent going to say “Oh, now they have a mascot, so I’ll drop an extra $200 to take my kids! Yay!” I doubt it. My opinions are based on the assumption that kids over age 10-12 are able to watch baseball and maintain great interest. If that is an incorrect assumption, that’s an indictment on American youth.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                I take my 4-year old son to 2-3 Nats games a year. It does not cost anywhere near that much extra money. Yes, he likes the baseball: for a little bit. He loves the play area.

                So, he gets what he wants, I get what I want, and the Nats get tickets sales. The only ones complaining are prats: and who cares about them? /sarcastic rhetoric…

      • TWC

        “And I don’t know who Bluth is, is that important?”

        I think you’ve made a huge mistake.

  • JR

    The Cubs could run Rosie O’Donnell out there in a bikini as their mascot for all i care, as long as they are truly competing for a playoff spot by next year.

    • cubfanincardinalland

      Come on JR, I am trying to eat my lunch.

  • Die hard

    Good to see FO taking notice of my prior rants about this… Just stopping any beer sales on Sunday would be nice start ….and once wk kids under 16 half price would help start fan base of future

    • OCCubFan

      How about kids under 16 get beer at half-price? Now that would bring in the kids.

  • Jon

    It’s truly sad that marketing people actually receive pay checks. The only thing beneficial would be a strategically placed Jumbotron and the rest of these ideas can go into the circular filing cabinet next to my desk.

    • J Wilson

      Right on.

  • Idaho Razorback

    No beer sales on Sunday? Nooooooooooooooooo, this ain’t Arkansas.

  • Abe Froman

    It’s going to be so tough to come up with a mascot that appeases the entire fanbase. The clear choice for me is a Tony Campana impersonator, and when Tony’s professional career ends he seamlessly takes over for the impersonator. I know it would be awkward letting the impersonator go, but these are the conversations that Jed and Theo are having that are distracting them from putting a winning product on the field (this is what I gather as my only Cubs news is from message boards).

  • 100 Years of Tears

    Having a couple little kids (and one that has the attention span of a flea), I’m all for a little extra entertainment for the kids… so, hell yeah, let’s have a mascot. I agree with Mike… it needs to be a Cub- baby bear… not something like those weird creatures in other ballparks.

    We go to a lot of Cubs games and a lot of Cougars games… and Cougars games are a MUCH better experience for parents and kids. I’m not saying a Cubs game needs all of the minor league shenanigans, but a little might go a long way.

    • J Wilson

      I couldn’t disagree more. If kids can’t watch a game and be entertained, the problem isn’t with the Cubs. It’s with the kids, or the parents for bringing kids–who are too young–to games.

      • Hansman1982

        Yes, damn me for wanting to try to enjoy some of a baseball game with my 3 year old and start the process of getting him interested in baseball. Man, if only I were a better parent I would only take him to the designated areas that parents can take their kids like playgrounds or doodle-bop concerts!!!!

        Or, if I weren’t such an abject failure I could get him to sit through the game.

        Damn me for wanting to take him and spend a bunch of money at the ballpark. Cause 3 year olds don’t get Ice cream and juice and balls and gloves when they go to the park. God, why did you make me such a douche? Why couldn’t I just fit into Mr Wilson’s pre-conceived notion of what it means to be a man and a parent?????????

        Ill just go Fill the emptiness with hamburgers.

        • cedlandrum

          nods approvingly.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          I’m grafting another arm onto my body so that I can give this three thumbs up.

          Baseball is like a warm bath: you lower your kid into it slowly so that he/she gets used to it. Even if he/she goes to the park excited, he/she will lose that excitement after a few innings. (I know that I did!) That’s particularly true now, where innings often take 20-30 minutes.

      • daniel

        I call bullshit. Kids are able to have special entertainment. I’m so sick of people that have this attitude. I dont have kids, and when I go to the park, i may take my glove with me. Depends on if my wife is with me, a glove on my hand increases the chance of stopping a ball. I dont want my wife to end up in the hospital bc she got hit in the head with a ball, like my mom did. (Yea, you’ll probably say that they need to pay more attention, but it is virtually impossible, especially if your a parent.)

        People like you who go to the park need to realize that there are other fans that are entertained in other ways. No one is suggesting we become the Marlins.

        Stop acting/sounding like the fat guy on Angels in the outfield. Its not a pissing contest to everyone about being a hardcore baseball fan. There are casual fans unlike us, too.

      • Pat

        Well, apparently the ownership disagrees with you and feels that it is a problem. Otherwise they wouldn’t be looking at ways to make things more kid friendly.

      • 100 Years of Tears

        Wilson, you make it sound like the only people that belong in the ballpark are you, other hardcore baseball fans, and the sportswriters… baseball is a family event for lots of people. And even the most hardcore fans are going to have kids and want to bring them to the games. Why do they/we have to wait until the kids are 10 years old to bring them to a game? Why shouldn’t the Cubs give kids something to break up the monotony of a 3 hour 1-0 game? How does it ‘ruin’ baseball to have kids (and not just the rare freak of nature 7 year old that enjoys 3 hours of 1-0 baseball) actually leave the game happy and excited for the next game?

  • Rich

    Look we all know that Wrigley Field is Disney Land, but a mascot at Wrigley? I would hate that to the point of starting a webpage with fundraising, given to the first person that steals all mascot uni’s to be used at Wrigley..

    Maybe we could have a character named “LOSER” with 1908 as its number..
    or a true to life BARTMAN ….

    OR an inflatable SOSA mascot with bulging muscles and carries a corked bat….

    Geez…a mascot ? that is like doing the wave….there are somethings we do not need..

    and another thing…I have young kids..but, I dont spend a good amount of money on 5 tickets for my family, to go “play” at a batting cage IN Wrigley…or have my kids throw a ball against a radar gun…

    I have always felt those are small market, low fan base teams to do SOMETHING to attract more revenue..

    I realize you must entertain the youngins but, if they are that young, maybe the local carnival is a better option, but it is your money…

    if a playoff team and championship is what we all want…I dont care if they play in Chicago or Schaumburg or Gurnee, with a jumbo-tron or not…

    I just dont want to have the magic number be 1 and being entertained, by Ditka screaming the 7th inning stretch, while I watch the race of the battle of the thick deep dish Chicago pizza mascots seeing who is going to win, where of course I can vote on my smart phone at a place where I thought I was going to watch a baseball game..

    Oh…yea- mascot…thats a no

    • Abe Froman

      Rich, thanks for your thoughts on the topic. What do you think of the Campana impersonator idea? You on board? What if they tell him to look sad all the time and instruct him that he cannot say anything positive about the team, in the same vein as your comments?

    • J Wilson

      Spot on. Go to a goddamn carnival.

  • Die hard

    On Sundays the beer vendors can pitch kid friendly food and items

  • Frank

    Brett,
    I’m in favor of a mascot. My suggestion is a real bear that chained to the bench in the visitors dugout.

    • Brian Peters

      I’m in favor of a real bear chasing, catching, and devouring Wilson in front of the largest sellout in Cubs’ history (including a boat-load of kids). The kiddos (and I) would love to see that!

  • Jonathan

    A live bear kept in a cage next to the visitor’s dugout might help the Cubs’ home record.

    • Katie

      Like.

  • Fastball

    I am for a Mascot of a Baby Bear/Cub. Several of them in fact riding around on ATV’s having a blast. I am all for tee shirt launchers into the crowd. I am all for letting kids run the bases in between innings. I am all for a jumbo tron and kiss cam. Every stadium in baseball does it. As bad as this team is they need all the help they can get distracting fans away from the beatings they are going to take on the field again this year. Baseball games are supposed to be fun. Wrigley Adults get to have fun getting drunk and having the bleachers seats be a beer garden. It would be pretty selfish if all those folks called them baseball purists all the sudden. My god the Cubs have had the most embarrassing 7th inning stretch in all of baseball since Harry died. And Go Cubs Go absolutely Sucks.. Mascots on 4 wheeler’s. Oh I forgot hot girls dancing on top of the dugouts in between innings. They got that at Great American Ball Park. I like that more than mascots.

  • Kev

    Since the Cubs already have a mascot named Ronnie Woo-Woo, what the Cubs should clearly do is make a giant, fuzzy Ronnie Woo-Woo suit and then have Ronnie Woo-Woo wear that suit.

  • mysterious4th

    No beer on Sunday? Are you trying to lose some attendance? I live in the Bible belt and you van buy beer on Sundays just not until 1 pm! Beer (old style), hot dogs go perfect with a game at wrigley

  • Harry

    I don’t think this question should be asked towards males. This is a question for the children and the mothers who are caring for them while their husbands pay attention to the game and consume beer. As a father who takes his daughter (6) to numerous sporting events I don’t see how this could be anything other than a FANTASTIC addition to the Wrigley experience. With the exposure that the team gets I think a mascot in Wrigley could have the same potential legacy as that of the Philly Phanatic, the San Diego Chicken, Bernie the Brewer, etc. That gives me an idea…have a gigantic slide from the top of the scoreboard to the LF bleacher section. Everytime we hit a homerun our mascot, GIANT HEAD, HARRY CARRY slides down into the bleachers and celebrates with the fans.

    The mascot should be a GIANT HEAD HARRY CARRY! We’ve had our mascot all these years and never did anything with it! That would be awesome!

    • mysterious4th

      It should not be directed towards mothers and not fathers! I am semi offended by this since growing up and going to wrigley like it was church for us. My mother, my grams, my aunt as well as my gramps, uncles and twin brother…..we ALL paid attention to the game. Even as young kids we watched the games as close as an adult as the adults then were teaching us the game and history! I am a female that knows the game and cubs in and out and it started as a kid.

  • Ivy Walls

    Total business decision(s). A mascot is a means to continue/expand the reach for kids at the ball park and beyond in the off season. No Brainer. As for the design/personality it is already on their sleave or breastplate as the Cubbie Bear caricature.

    As for new logos outside the Sunday home stripes, that too is maximizing the merchandise potential. My wife just ordered another Cubs T shirt for the summer I demanded a traditional look, but my question than is, would the Yankees change their brand?

    The only branding that is important is winning, the other stuff is effort at working at the margins. Merchandise sales will go as soon as the Cubs are really relevant.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Let me get this straight. A team that had Harry Caray as its announcer and crowd entertainer, has had Ozzy Osbourne and a noted cast of other clowns sing a song during the game, throw out the first pitch and do the starting lineups, should not have a mascot, because it is cheesy and over the top. OK.

  • MichiganGoat

    Um Hello … GOAT MASCOT! My phones are open Cubs.

  • DarthHater

    [img]http://nbcoutofbounds.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/cubs1908-03.jpg[/img]

    • DarthHater

      Last time the Cubs won the WS, this was their mascot. Nuff said.

    • Jim L

      What is that…a giant rat from the Chicago sewer systems?

    • frank

      Now THAT’S a mascot. I do like the idea of a live bear in the visitor’s dugout–just make sure the chain’s long enough to cover the entire bench . . .

  • Dylan

    Or they could just promote Cubbie from the Iowa Cubs.

  • Die hard

    Mascots can’t keep kids attention while game on …… but a playground for 5 and under would help…. and let kids 6-12 run the bases during 7 th inning ….and let 13-15 yr olds participate in batting practice on Sundays

    • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

      As someone who has jealously watched kids do the bases thing dozens of times at Miller, any base running needs to happen after the game, not during. Takes too friggen long to corral the kids and get em through. And I probably misspelled that C word but oh well.

      • Die hard

        Ok- before the games on wknds…. whatever!!….point is there are many ways to generate new future fan base and beer sales ad nauseum won’t do it

      • 100 Years of Tears

        Kids can run the bases on Sundays after the game… and a small group of kids get to hang out on the field to watch batting practice before day games (every day, I believe). My boys did both of these things last year and they will never forget it. The players and coaches even toss balls to them during BP. My 5 year old was mesmerized for an hour of BP, being 10 feet away from Rizzo and Sori and the rest of them.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Well, for once we agree on something! The Nats park has a great playground for kids, and as my (now) 4-year old cannot sit through an entire game (and as his mother really does not like baseball very much), this is a very good thing.

      We could take a page from the Nats on the Mascots and have giant heads of former Chicago Mayors run a race. The one who pays the most thugs to undermine the others or who buys the most votes wins each time!

  • jtcubbies

    If the Cubs did get a mascot it should be a goat. The original goat that was not allowed in Wrigley back in 1945 was named: “Murphy”. So the mascot costume should be “Murphy the Goat”.

  • http://BleacherNation Dean

    I’m all for the giant Harry Head mascot, hot looking girls on the roof of the dugout, and real bear in the visiting duguout!!! Sounds like a plan!

  • dan

    Could it really be any worse than our 7th ing streach ?

  • WI Jeff

    Just returning from big 10 event at Univ of MN. The mascot Gopher was great for my kids at photo ops. The athletes were a accessible for after meet signing. Real breath of fresh air to interact with wholesome student athletes. No down side to providing a little comedic levity and something to help grow next gen fans.

  • Dustin S

    I don’t really get the negativity towards a mascot. The Cubs know they are lagging behind in aiming some of the entertainment towards kids. As it is now I’d imagine a lot of kids get pretty bored at the games. It doesn’t need to be turned in Milwaukee with sausage races and the slide, but some subtle changes to keep their interest would be good. There should be a good compromise between the drinking fest which Wrigleyville is now and becoming Chuck E Cheese. The old Cubs logo is tailor-made for a cub/bear mascot.

    Mentally though I keep picturing the PBR bear…it would definitely get my vote. Plus a sponsorship opportunity lol…

  • Die hard

    The squirrels and pigeons give the kids plenty to laugh about– don’t need some hung over 20 something groping the kids

  • WI Jeff

    Groping kids? wTF…. I don’t know where you come up with these thought Die Hard. I am all for a balance between MKE and the cubs style now.

    • Die hard

      Do you know who’s in those costumes? I don’t and all parents should be concerned because they don’t know… Most often they are college grads temporarily between jobs who typically would have been out late the night before ….. And many under 5 kids are scared to death of these ….. The FO should look for other ways to build the future fan base

  • Brian Peters

    We can’t have Harry as the mascot. As great as he was, he was never bigger than the Cubs. Even he knew that.

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