This afternoon, some White Sox bloggers got to speak with Brooks Boyer. As we’ve all become aware, the White Sox are honoring the 1983 “Winning Ugly” team this season by wearing the 1983 uniforms on Sundays like they did last year for the 1972 team. Like last year, there will be Retro Racers on Sundays. This year’s 1983 racers will be Harold Baines, Ron Kittle and Carlton Fisk. Many of this year’s giveaways will be centered around the 1983 team, including the Harold Baines and Ron Kittle bobbleheads.
Boyer said that with the vast history of the White Sox and the use of some cool and some not-so-cool uniforms of the paste, the Sox are using the throwback jerseys as a way to not only honor great teams of the past but also to teach younger generations about the history of the team. The Sox would like to continue wearing throwback jerseys, and Boyer said they don’t need a milestone to celebrate to wear a jersey
Boyer was asked some specifics about the uniforms the players will be wearing on Sundays. They will be wearing the 1983 caps and helmets, and the uniforms will feature the All-Star Game patch. The players won’t be required to wear red shoes to go along with the 1983 uniforms. Most players wore red shoes with the pinstripes last season, so it’s possible that many players will wear red shoes this season. Boyer said they could wear ballet shoes for all he cares, as long as they go out and play well.
Boyer mentioned the Sox have partnered with some youth baseball leagues in the area. All the kids will be wearing Sox uniforms that the organization is buying for them.
Boyer was asked about a 1983 team reunion. He said a lot of team members will be coming through this season. The goal is to have someone from the 1983 team at every Sunday game to honor and recognize them. The Sox will have autographs every Sunday this season, but it will be different than in the past. Players will be out on the ramps to protect everyone from heat or rain, and they will rotate players and 1983 team members every Sunday.
Having autographs every Sunday, which are Family Sundays this season, will hopefully bring more families to the ballpark. Pricing for Family Sundays are lower, meaning that a family of four could be in the upper deck of the ballpark and park their car for $30 or the lower deck for $70. As a reminder, seats in the bleachers, outfield reserve, lower corner and premium upper box sections will be $15, seats in the upper box and upper reserved seat will be $10, and upper corner tickets will be $5. Parking will be $10.
Tickets went on sale this morning, and at the time of the phone call, Boyer had no real idea as to how ticket sales have reacted to the 1983 uniforms and family Sundays. Season tickets have been selling well, however. They are 100 percentage points above where they were last year, and more people are buying the seven- and 14-game plans since they are comparable in price to buying single tickets for three or four games. The renewal rate for season tickets is above 90%, and Boyer attributes that to the team being more fun and likable last year compared to 2011.
Boyer was asked if the tiered seating affected season ticket holders along the lines and behind the plate. He said that the Sox took the premium lower box area and extended it two sections on either side. The first 10 rows of those sections are diamond level, rows 11 through 26 are platinum level, and the rest of the section is gold level. The renewal rate was over 99% in the diamond and platinum levels, and the renewal rate was over 97% in the gold level. The Sox are carefully looking at Stub Hub prices to make sure there is still a margin for secondary ticket sales. This puts the Sox more in the middle of the pack of all MLB teams rather than being too low in the premium lower box sections and too high in the outfield.
The Sox still have a good relationship with Stub Hub. Unlike the Angels and Yankees who have opted out of the partnership with Stub Hub, the Sox don’t feel that working with Stub Hub is undercutting primary market sales. Because of the dynamic pricing the Sox use, they are able to have their prices fluctuate in order to keep up with a competitive market. If you go to the Sox site today, tickets in September will be less expensive than they will be if the season goes well and demand rises.
The topic of statues came up. Boyer said that the statues are not taken lightly. The people who have statues at the park are the people who had an impact on not just the team but on the city as a whole. He hopes no one is questioning the people they have given statues to. That said, the causal fans who are asked who should get a statue, players like Paul Konerko and Mark Buehrle are named. White Sox history for many fans begins at 2005 with the World Series win.
Concessions were another topic brought up. Based on the survey that the Sox put out at the end of last season, concessions rated very high. However, Boyer was concerned about some of the comments about the quality of the food some people have received, like stale nachos, cold hot dogs and hard buns. There were more bad food quality comments than Boyer would have liked to see, but overall the response was positive. The Sox met with Levy earlier this week to taste the 7-8 new menu items they would like to introduce on the club level and in the suites. They will be meeting with SportsService in early February to taste the new items available in the rest of the ballpark.
Finally Boyer was asked about social media interactions at SoxFest this weekend. It will be a lot of the same that Sox fans have seen in the past. They will tweet out updates and pictures and possibly some video of what’s been going on. They’re rolling out a new Tumblr page soon, and they’ll make sure all their social media outlets will keep Sox fans informed.
Boyer also mentioned that they’re finalizing this season’s ad campaign, and it will involve social media significantly. Unlike in seasons past, the ad campaign won’t be unveiled at SoxFest but closer to the season starting.