Conference call with Brooks Boyer

A rendering of the new U.S. Cellular Field restaurant and bar.

This afternoon, a bunch of us Sox bloggers sat down for a conference call with White Sox Vice President of Marketing Brooks Boyer.

However, one blogger who wasn't on the call was U-God, so you won't be getting a full transcript. Partially because I'm lazy, but more because I've been sick for the last couple days, and my hacking cough made many parts of it unusable for direct quoting. Thank God for mute buttons.

Here are the notes and bullet points.

On the new bar

The White Sox issued a press release about it earlier in the day, so Boyer glossed over a lot of the details printed in it. He did offer a few more specifics:

  • Upon its opening, the bar will only be open on gamedays, but there are plans to expand its availability.
  • It'll be open at 5 a.m. on Opening Day with "Mully and Hanley" broadcasting on site, and it will be open for the Bulls-Celtics game that night.

On the Metra stop

Like many of you South Suburbanites, Boyer is excited for the new Metra stop by U.S. Cellular Field.

  • "There's going to be a dedicated train that leaves right after the game."
  • For night games, there will be a dedicated Sox train that will arrive an hour before the game. During day games, the train will run on its normal schedule.
  • Boyer acknowledged the possibility of "glitches," and said there will be fine-tuning as the season progresses.

On the new organist

Boyer fielded a couple questions from Mark Liptak about Lori Moreland, who will be replacing Nancy Faust this season.

  • Moreland was among seven other finalists who played at U.S. Cellular Field, with people sitting in different parts of the park during the auditions.
  • Manning reminded the Sox of Nancy, and yes, Moreland will have the booth open during games.
  • Moreland's schedule is undetermined, but she won't be on Nancy's recent-years schedule of only day games.

On the dynamic pricing option

For a little context, I'd followed the dynamic pricing option for the final series of 2010, and discovered that the prices weren't all that dynamic. In fact, they didn't change for the seats I was tracking.

  • Boyer said the Sox were putting their "foot in the water" with the dynamic pricing system, and that last year's result "wasn't overly dynamic."
  • The prices won't fall below season ticket-holder prices (which makes sense).
  • They are set up to track dynamic pricing on all seats, but the initial focus will be on the lower premium box and perhaps some outfield seats.
  • Factors include: The White Sox' record, weather, pitching matchups, giveaways.
  • Boyer closing note on the question: "It should allow us to be able to help those value-seekers. At the same time, people who are looking for a particular seat, even though they'll pay a premium, they'll be able to get that particular seat. It allows us to maximize the dollars which puts the best possible product on the field."

On new sponsorships/corporate ties

Asked by Jenny Zelle of Gaper's Block.

  • You'll see a new name for the Jim Beam Club, although it hasn't been announced yet.
  • The pizza partner has gotten decidedly less Chicago - it's not Connie's, it's DiGiorno. I wonder how this affects the pizza race, since kitchen to couch doesn't allow for much suspense.
  • Bacardi will have signage inside the park to go along with the restaurant; Chevy will have some competition in Ford. Neither deal is exclusive.

On the beer

This was of high interest to J.J. and James.

  • The Sox's relations with Miller are "so deep" that Anheuser-Busch's recent dealings don't affect it. Miller uber alles, basically.
  • Boyer offered no specifics on the new craft beer stands.

On marketing to women

Related to the recent announcement that Victoria's Secret has a new line of MLB clothing, some with questionable slogans like "Meet me in the dugout" and "Chicks dig diamonds," asked by Cheryl...

  • Boyer dismissed that strategy as "shock-value-type," "gimmicky" and "short-term," and didn't place a high priority in marketing to the "cutesy, singles-type thing" that might only be attractive to a certain age range.
  • He said he's more interested in moms and families, and providing an experience that is comfortable to both women and families and helps provide a bond 10 years down the road.
  • "Promoting the Victoria's Secret line isn't going to grow our fan base which ultimately adds to payroll which hopefully puts players on the field."

On the BP Crosstown Cup

It didn't go that well the first time around - how will the Deepwater Horizon disaster affect Year 2 of the partnership?

  • He reiterated the line from before, that the Sox will be as loyal to BP as BP has been to the Sox.
  • The Sox and BP pulled back on promotion last year, but BP plans to be "very aggressive." Boyer said the Sox sense that they've taken appropriate actions to live up to their responsibility to the Gulf Coast, and BP "wants to show off what they continue to do, and they haven't backed away from anything."
  • He ost me here: "That really, to me, represents what a White Sox fan is about as well. White Sox fans don't back away from anything, they take responsibility, and they're not afraid to say it and show it." Reeeeeeeeeach. I suppose that's supposed to be flattering, but I'd rather avoid any comparisons to companies responsible for massive ecological disasters.
  • Boyer described the Sox as "excited" about the partnership, and they foresee themselves being "very good partners for a long time."
  • The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup right before the Crosstown Cup was presented at Wrigley Field, making the newcomer to the trophy circuit "irrelevant."

On social media

  • "You're going to see a very aggressive approach, you're going to see it more on our Twitter, promoting our Twitter and our Facebook than you have before. We really want to be able to build the community, whether you're a hardcore fan or whether you're a casual fan, we really want to be able to build that community and let people talk."
  • He spoke of a deal with Ticketmaster that will allow people to post their seat location to their Twitter and/or Facebook accounts (which seems rife for humblebragging), and said in the foreseeable future, you'll be able to know who will be sitting around you.
  • Boyer said the organization wasn't promoting Twitter usage among members of the team: "We seem to have a little bit of a history of visitors to the clubhouse and Twitter -- and people who believe they are in the clubhouse and Twitter -- so I don't think it's a big thing that Ken Williams and Ozzieare pushing on players." He said there will be more players on it when younger players come up, since they've grown up with social media, but they're fine with using @whitesox.

On the black jersey imbalance

I didn't expect the Sox to sway from their stance on removing the "Diamond Sock" (hooray, branding), but I was more curious about the statement Boyer made suggesting the Sox will wear the alternate jersey less often.

  • Boyer's personal favorite jersey is the black jersey, but the "operating-committee level" made the decision that the white pinstripes will be worn more. Boyer doesn't have any personal pull, but the "operating committee" includes Jerry Reinsdorf.
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