As Chicago begins bearing down for the first snow showers of winter, so too has the avalanche of Cubs’ World Series gear begun sweeping across the city. The Ricketts Family and Major League Baseball could not be happier that Christmas season is finally upon us with hordes of Cubs fans searching online and in stores for the next great piece of World Series apparel. Annual Christmas shopping won’t be the only major expense hitting Cubs fans’ wallets, however. Fresh off winning their first World Series title in 108 years, the Chicago’s North Side team is raising ticket prices for next season by an average of 20%. “They can do whatever they want,” some say, “they won!” “Let Theo have my first-born child,” others chime in, “The man is the Savior!” Yes, the curse is over. Yes, the organization will need strong financial support to retain its roster full of young superstars. Yes, this is the time to cash in.
Take a step back for a second and imagine that everything you’ve heard from the organization through the course of Theo’s “magic plan,” the World Series run, and the subsequent celebration has been sincere. Imagine that all of this – the four abysmal years of baseball followed by a 97-win season and a World Championship – has been for the city and the fans like so many in the Cubs organization have proclaimed. If all of it is true, then why raise prices so dramatically on the community that has so loyally supported the franchise through 108 years of misery?
The answer lies in simple economics. The Cubs are exercising their soundest business judgment, “selling” the team to its city and its fanbase when their value is at its highest. It’s difficult to fault the organization for that logic. Yet, with the influx of cash soon coming from lucrative new TV deals and the “redevelopment” of the Wrigleyville area around the stadium, the move to increase ticket prices by a whopping 20% – effectively pricing a large portion of the team’s fanbase out of being able to attend a game – feels like Cubs executives are pulling a fast one on fans who are too blinded by championship joy to care. Sure, the Wrigley grandstands will continue to be filled to the brim. For every Cubs fan who can no longer afford to visit the landmark stadium to take in a game, another with just a little more change in his or her pocket will fill the seat. If you build a World Series winner, they will come.
However, the Cubs may have shot themselves in the foot in their rush to capitalize on their recent success. Perhaps the team should’ve waited to raise tickets by more than 5 to 10% until they had delivered 2 or 3 or even 4 rings. Maybe they should’ve held off until they had Cubs fans drunk with the taste of the word “dynasty” on their lips. Is it possible that the organization just elevated its standard – and its fanbase’s expectations – beyond what is possibly attainable?
Ticket prices aside, any result short of multiple World Series titles for this den of Cubs will be viewed as a major disappointment by a city so eager for consistent baseball success. Perhaps North Siders are just being greedy. How can you blame them? After all, that seems to be the message that will make games at The Friendly Confines a little less friendly next season.