There is a chance tonight that someone is going to win life altering money. That’s different than life-changing money which is having a large enough sum of cash to erase any financial worries and check things off the bucket list. For me, that’s like $100,000 which I can be debt free and put a down payment on a condo.
Tonight’s Mega Millions drawing is a $1.6 billion jackpot. The cash option is $904 million. $904 million into your bank account. Nine hundred and four million dollars. Someone will win and become one of the wealthiest people in the world overnight, and it could be me!
LOL!! That’s a blog post or a show right there…..”What you would change if you owned the White Sox”….make sure you trow (this is Bridgeport) a bone to your old pals in Section 108
— Section 108 (@fromthe108) October 21, 2018
$904 million would not be enough to buy the White Sox. I estimate that it would take $1.5 billion to buy the franchise, and I would lead the investment group by supplying $751 million of that to have majority control. I’m sure it’s easy to raise the other $749 million. Maybe I’ll get Michael Jordan and Oprah Winfrey to chip in some cash.
In this fantasy as the new White Sox Chairman, I would make some changes to the franchise that I think would be best for both the product on-the-field and fan engagement.
CHANGE: Increase investment in player development
It bothers me when minor leaguers tweet pictures of their minor league digs. We read about how MLB teams are investing in sleep research and nutrition to maximize player development, and they pay so little to these players in the minors that they’re stuck sleeping on air mattresses and eating Chipotle.
As Chairman, I would improve player development in two ways.
- New minimum pay scale for minor leaguers
- A: $45,000 salary
- Advanced A: $55,000 salary
- AA: $70,000 salary
- AAA: $80,000 salary
- Building housing and development facilities in each level above Rookie Ball.
Players either play or prepare all season long, but only get paid for some of that time. I don’t think that is fair (or legal). Movement between the levels would, of course, be prorated for the time spent at each affiliate. The goal would be the salaries are enough to ensure players have enough money to take care of themselves and their families.
While they are in season, I’d build housing and development center at each level. This is a copy and pastes idea of watching facility videos from the top college sports programs. These new facilities are a great recruiting tool because parents will see how their children will be taken care of making it easier to commit.
How is it possible a $50 million stadium can be even more amazing than you dreamed? Take a walk with our guys as they saw it for the first time last night and you’ll see! #WeAreUK pic.twitter.com/DgBSxVUr48
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) August 26, 2018
Why not use that same principle but at the minor league levels? Some of the top picks in recent drafts have come from these facilities, and when they join a White Sox affiliate it’s entirely different, and not in a good way. No doubt that Nick Madrigal had better access to nutrition, gyms, and fields at Oregon State than he does in Winston-Salem. Also, the White Sox could use better community outreach, especially in Birmingham and Charlotte. These two cities are the largest populations in their respective states, and that could be leveraged in growing the fanbase outside of Chicago.
If you invest more in the development and care of the minor league players, I do believe you’ll increase their chances of not only making the majors but also be successful. With the current pay scale, the first three years are paid below $600,000. That’s an excellent surplus value opportunity if your franchise can churn out 2+ WAR players because you’ve got a better development program.
CHANGE: Ditch cable and grant streaming rights to YouTube, Facebook, or Amazon.
Not many people tuned in to White Sox baseball this season because of lack in quality and more households are cutting the cord. MLB franchises are not ready to leave cable because of the television deals that they’re signing. Just before this season, the Tampa Bay Rays signed a 15-year contract that will bring in $82 million a season for Fox Sports to broadcast games.
It’s been reported that the White Sox make $750,000 per game on NBC Sports Chicago and $200,000 on WGN. Comes out close to $110 million in TV revenue (140 games on NBCS, 22 games on WGN). Based on the ratings, and the repetitiveness of advertisements between innings, I can’t imagine broadcasting White Sox games is profitable for either NBC Sports Chicago or WGN.
Besides, why limit your audience to those that have cable? Why not make it more readily available to anyone in the world can watch your games and increase brand visibility? Instead of negotiating with the local RSN, I would be working out a deal with either YouTube, Facebook, or Amazon to stream games. All three platforms are hungry for live streaming options, and Amazon already pays the NFL $65 million to stream 11 Thursday Night Football games. I don’t think it’s far-fetched to net $1 million a game with any of those platforms. It may reduce the amount of Howard Ankin commercials featuring Ozzie Guillen and Scott Podsednik, but I’m OK with that.
CHANGE: Introduce fan rewards status and The 108 Club
Ask anyone who travels for work about the benefits of miles and hotel points. It’s this underground game manipulating travel itineraries and stays in multiple cities to earn enough rewards to book grand vacations on points. I speak from experience as a benefactor of having a loving girlfriend who travels for work every single week. Best seats on the plane, access to the airport lounge, and free hotel room upgrades. Vacations are fantastic with these benefits, and because of these rewards she only books flights on one airline and hotel group. Her loyalty to these brands is unmatched and for good reasons.
What if you could replicate this model for baseball games?
By giving points for every dollar spent on tickets, concessions, and merchandise at the stadium or online at whitesox.com, fans can obtain status. With status comes rewards like buying tickets, food, beer, and merchandise on points. Also, have a status lounge for Platinum members like airports do and their own gate to check-in. We can call it the 108 Club in honor of the crazy uncles of White Sox Twitter.
I’m thinking status levels at these increments:
- Silver: >$250 spend
- Gold: >$500 spend
- Platinum: >$1,000 spend
- Executive Platinum: >$2,500 spend
CHANGE: Lower the price on all concessions with nothing more than $5
Hot dogs should be a dollar every night at the ballpark, not just Wednesday’s. I shouldn’t have to pay $7 for a slice of pizza at the Beggar’s stand when I get a large pizza from them for twice the amount. I love the elotes stand, but $5.50 is a bit much for corn on the cob. Paying the price of a six-pack for a 16-ounce glass of beer is also stupid.
We’ve seen the Atlanta Falcons dramatically cut concessions pricing when they moved into Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The idea was they could make up that lost revenue with more ticket volume. So far, it’s working.
To help fans more, my next change would be…
CHANGE: Make every 500-level seat a $5 ticket and the bleachers $10.
There’s nothing more depressing than watching a home run hit into an empty section of bleachers. It’s incredible seeing a huge swath of fans rise at Yankee Stadium when Aaron Judge smashes one. Just adds more electricity to the stadium.
By lowering the cost of tickets in the bleachers would hopefully boost season ticket plans bought in that area. For the 2019 season, a full season ticket plan in the bleachers would cost around $1600 per seat, or $19.75 a game. In the 500-level, you are spending $1,115 for tickets behind home plate, or $850 a seat further down the foul lines. That’s $13.77 or $10.49 per game.
By cutting the prices of these seats by almost in half, or in some cases nearly 64%, the hope would be more volume. More season ticket plans purchased because it’s more affordable to buy, it’s cheaper to buy food at the stadium, more in-stadium perks and fans can start stashing rewards points for larger purchases. Say enough points to buy a box suite for a game.
It’s fun to imagine what it would be like to own the Chicago White Sox. I think this franchise could use more creativity in fan engagement, and we all know they could use a boost in player development. In the very likelihood that I don’t win Mega Millions, it would be nice to see the Sox try a few of these ideas.
Or you can win the lottery, buy the White Sox, chill with MJ and Oprah in the owner’s box, and hire me to be the CMO. That’d be cool, too.