Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Chuck Greenberg's focus: Put fans first
By Richard Durrett
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers managing general partner Chuck Greenberg spent part of Tuesday's game roaming the stadium and talking to fans.
He doesn't have any trouble blending in. Greenberg doesn't wear a coat and tie, a clothing ensemble he wore too many times to hearings in a Fort Worth courtroom over the past few months and as a lawyer the first 15 years of his career. So he looks like a fan just happy to be watching a ballgame.
"The coat and tie just isn't me," Greenberg said. "My biggest decision sometimes is whether to wear blue jeans or shorts."
Part of Greenberg's gameday routine, one that he's still formulating in just his second week on the job, includes soliciting ideas from fans and seeing the ballpark from a variety of vantage points.
"There are things you can only see and hear and experience by being there," Greenberg said.
Greenberg sat in the outfield bleachers during the Sunday afternoon game against the Boston Red Sox and discovered that you better have something to cover your seat because it gets very hot. He also heard areas where the sound system wasn't very effective and took some notes.
"You see fans and hear what they think, and most everyone has an idea or suggestion as to how we can make the experience better," Greenberg said. "We compile those and when we get to the offseason, we're going to think of ways we can implement them."
When Greenberg isn't mingling with fans or watching part of the game from the first-row owner's box, he's busy in his office on the fourth floor inside Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Greenberg is helping put together the club's marketing campaign, one that is centered on getting the word out that it's an organization that puts fans first. His opening act as owner was to roll back prices on parking and various concession and merchandise items. He's going to have a point person as a fan ambassador that will work to make sure fan needs are addressed.
Fans at the Rangers-Minnesota Twins series noticed one big difference -- flashing blue lights and a siren going off during one of the half innings. It's a "blue light special" when certain concession and merchandise items are sold at discounted prices.
"We won't do it as a disruption to the game and it will be before the final three innings, because those are sacred," Greenberg said. "But it's a chance for fans to get something at a low price. And it's fun."
Greenberg is having fun finally getting an opportunity to implement ideas that have been bouncing around in his head since last spring, when he made the decision to try to buy the club. His top priority for fans remains installing a new video board, something that has occupied much of his time the first 10 days of his tenure.
"We're meeting with potential suppliers of the video board, and there are some really exciting ideas there," Greenberg said. "We're being told by the beginning of September that we need to decide, but in order to do this thoughtfully, it's going to take more time than that. We're hopeful the companies that want our business are going to be flexible. It's a very high priority to have it in place by Opening Day 2011."
Greenberg looks refreshed and rejuvenated now that he isn't spending all of his time poring over court documents or participating in late-night strategy sessions with his team of attorneys. That doesn't mean Greenberg isn't still putting in long hours. He arrives at the park around 8:30 each morning and doesn't head back to his hotel room until after the game. If the club is on the road, he'll work while the game is on in his office and then go back to his room to send e-mails. Sleep doesn't come until 1 a.m., and many times that's after a run on the treadmill.
But the days of hotel living are ending for Greenberg. He is closing on a home in Westlake at the end of the month and expects to be moved in during the first week of September. His three sons -- Jeff, Jack and Ben -- are either in college or law school, but he and his wife, Jenny, will call Texas home starting with this year's stretch drive toward a postseason berth.
"I love being here and having this opportunity," Greenberg said. "I've had quite a few moments where it's, 'Gosh, this is real.' And then a day later you say, 'Gosh, this is real.' But that doesn't get old. I've never been happier or more excited about anything I've done. There are so many challenges and there's so much to do and it's all great. When you've got 50 things you want to do at one time and they're all enjoyable, that's a pretty good day."
Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter; or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.