How the Chicago Cubs Became Tech Champions

Andrew McIntyre, vice president, technology for the Chicago Cubs

Andrew McIntyre, vice president, technology for the Chicago Cubs, was hired in 2011 to lead the team’s technology transformation. After touring the field's less than stellar "technology rooms" on his second day, McIntyre's reaction was: "Well, it can only get better from here."

McIntyre shared his story of how he went about improving the technology behind the Cubs franchise at an event, hosted by LG Electronics USA Business Solutions on September 20, at the American Airlines Conference Center in Chicago.

McIntyre knew he would need a roadmap to follow that would set a path to success. He decided to first look to best-in-class MLB teams in 2011 that were innovators when it came to their facilities, network infrastructure and operations. He determined that the team to beat was the San Francisco Giants which had innovated with technology such as scouting systems, dynamic ticket pricing, and stadium WiFi in the early 2000s and were early adopters of 100% HD, business analytics, and digital ticketing by 2011/2012.

"The Giants were very much an innovator in the space, they were on the cutting edge,” McIntyre says. “That mentality led them down a path to three championships. They used technology to drive revenue. We were laggards. We were very far behind at the time."

By 2016, the Cubs had caught up to the Giants' technology rollouts and have now begun to implement their own innovative technology initiatives.

"There is no one in the MLB that we're trying to catch up to anymore," he explained. "We are the leaders. So now we're turning our attention to other professional sports – such as the NFL – to see what technologies we can adopt and adapt to the MLB."

In particular, the Cubs looked to the Super Bowl's management of cellular and WiFi traffic and saw that Levi Stadium – home of the San Francisco 49ers – taking on responsibility for delivering cellular service. Previously, this was the job of either the carriers or a third-party. When the Cubs took back the rights to their space for cellular service and began negotiating with the carriers, they were also able to implement other infrastructure upgrades such as campus-wide WiFi. When fans opt in to the WiFi, the Cubs gains access to a treasure trove of data: How often does this fan attend games? Do they go to the Cubs store and buy merchandise? Do they come to the field for concerts? Etc.

"It's all about getting to know the 3 million fans that visit Wrigley Field every year better so that we can market to them better and ultimately improve their experience and our bottom line."

When McIntyre was first hired, the organization looked at IT as a cost center that existed to drive costs out of the organization and keep things running. McIntyre had bigger plans.

"I wanted to change that mindset, to say we're not here just for that. We're here to drive revenue," he said.

So far, it seems to be working. In 2011 – the year McIntyre was hired – the Cubs’ annual revenue was $266 million, in 2017 it was $457 million, according to

  • 3 Tech Trends Spotted on the Show Floor

    1. Evolution of the Television.

    When asked about current hospitality guest room trends, Jim Krawczyk, national accounts manager, hospitality sales for LG talked about screen size.

    "We are seeing a migration to larger televisions in a very short period of time. Right now, 55-inch is our largest selling size, but just last year it was 43-inch and the year before that it was 32-inch," he explained. "Costs have come down, aesthetically they look nicer, but the main reason is that people want what they have at home. A 32-inch television screen size feels like a computer monitor nowadays. It costs about $8 to run a 55-inch television for 5 hours a day, 365 days a year based on 11.5 cents per Kwh. So the costs have really dropped, they're not the energy hogs they used to be."

    2. Employee Use Cases for Digital Signage.

    Hughes Network Systems was exhibiting at the LG Tech Tour in Chicago to discuss Hughes Media Signage running on LG's webOS platform.

    When asked how hotels and restaurants are using digital signage in innovative ways, Curtis Campbell, senior marketing director, Hughes Network Systems, talked about employee interaction and training.

    "Digital signage has been around for a while, but its use cases are going in many new directions. Now it's being used to communicate with employees in the back office. A hotel or restaurant no longer has a cork board. They can use digital signs to offer passive education. They get the information they need to better serve their customers and educate their employees. Also, with shrinking store sizes there might not be a training room or a breakroom anymore. Operators can use digital signage for integrated video on-demand training. When the training is over, the display can return to whatever its original intended use was," he adds.

    3. Next-Gen Customer Interaction.

    During a breakout session, Intuiface – creators of digital signage software with an interactive touch experience – demonstrated to attendees how one could use their technology to create interactive menus, wayfinding, task boards or even DIY shopping catalogs. The technology integrates with Afterwards, Kurt Haller, general manager North America, Intuiface, talked with HT on why restaurants – specifically QSRs – are using interactive touch digital displays.

    "QSRs are using kiosks with touch digital displays for a variety of reasons. One it cuts down on staff and two it often translates to an average increase in order size of 30%. Why is this? Because people are more comfortable ordering an extra-large fry or adding on a sundae to their order from a machine. They don't think the machine will judge them," he explained.

About the Author


Michal Christine Escobar

Michal Christine Escobar is Hospitality Technology’s Senior Editor, with a concentration on the hotel industry.  She has a decade of experience as a B2B journalist. She is responsible for the hotel beat at the magazine and often writes about AI, VR, IoT and other emerging technologies affecting hospitality.

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