In class this week, we have been discussing economic impact and how this affects sporting events, venues, or teams. One of the main aspects of this topic is that the more appealing the event is, the greater the economic impact will be. It will have a “ripple effect”. One of the prominent examples of this is with Chicago’s two baseball teams, the Cubs and the White Sox. The Chicago Cubs have always been regarded as the city’s number one team regardless of their “lovable losers” label and disappointing seasons. Wrigley Field is one of the oldest stadiums in professional baseball yet it is always packed and fans always attend games. U.S. Cellular Field, where the White Sox play, has continued to churn out disappointing attendance numbers and this is a somewhat disappointing trend considering the White Sox had a good season this year. They were averaging about 21,670 fans per game this year which ranks them 27 out of 3o for MLB teams (O’Donnell, 2012). Their stadium was renovated in 2003 for about $167 million. When the White Sox won the World Series in 2005 the attendance numbers increased dramatically and the year after in 2006 their numbers were steady. However, over the last several years their attendance numbers have been down and this is mainly due to the teams’ performance. When they don’t do amazing, the fans do not show up. Having star players certainly helps attract fans and it leads me to believe that if they were to sign a player such as Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez that it would attract more fans. However, if they aren’t making enough money through attendance then it makes it harder for them to afford star caliber players (O’Donnell, 2012). One of the other major reasons for the difference in the teams’ attendance is the demographics. The area where U.S. Cellular Field is has always been the working-class, poorer area with lots of middle-class families. Not all of them can afford to go to the games, whereas Wrigley Field is near the wealthy suburbs on the north side so the crowd is comprised of more affluent families (LaBanca, 2012). Everybody in the city of Chicago believes that U.S. Cellular Field is not making as much money as it should be and it is not considered a failure but it could be doing better. This is similar to our discussion about the YUM Center with the idea that you want your venue or facility to be working all the time. Another good example is when Michael Jordan and all of the star players from the 1990’s championship Bulls teams left after the 1998 season. Immediately after, the Bulls were not only a bad team but the attendance numbers were terrible and downright embarrassing for such a proud franchise. The trick is to know what the appealing concepts are that will attract fans. As a sports manager, you have to put aside your emotions or fan loyalty and make smart business decisions that will make your venue, stadium, or team successful. Even if it is something you might not personally choose to do or a team that you would not root for, you need to factor in what makes the most business sense for the long term.
O’Donnell, R. (2012, June 20). White sox attendance is down, and they aren’t ashamed to tell you. Retrieved from http://chicago.sbnation.com/chicago-white-sox/2012/6/20/3097346/chicago-white-sox-tickets-attendance-2012-us-cellular-field
LaBanca, N. (2012, Jue 19). The crosstown comparison: Wrigley field vs us cellular. Retrieved from http://goldcoasttickets.com/blog/index.php/2012/06/19/the-crosstown-comparison/28153