When the Chicago Cubs, the most beloved underdog team in the history of Major League Baseball, clinched the wild card National League playoff spot for the first time since 2008. The elusive World Series were once again within reach, and this time they seemed closer than ever thanks to a roster that was young, motivated and very enthusiastic.
Alas, the Cubs’ hopes would be dissolved by a strong New York Mets team, and fans had no choice but to once again wait for next season. On the economic front, however, the Cubs probably enjoyed a more positive impact than the Mets, and this is a business trend that is expected to continue.
Despite being swept by the Mets and not being able to advance to the World Series, the Cubs emerged as a more valuable team in terms of revenue in the 2015 season. It is important to remember that the last time the Cubs were in the playoffs, the team was owned by a money-losing media company that eventually filed for bankruptcy; since then, viewership on the local Comcast SportsNet television network has nearly doubled each year. Each game played by the Cubs, whether at home in Wrigley Field or on the road, is enjoyed by at least 115,000 local households, which means plenty of golden opportunities for advertising.
At Wrigley Field, the bleachers were not 100 percent available at the beginning of the season, and yet the Cubs managed average attendance of 36,325 before the playoffs. Thanks to the team’s performance, community outreach and clever marketing, the Cubs’ top sponsors are currently big names such as Toyota, Budweiser and American Airlines.
Even before the playoffs, overall revenue for the Cubs was on the rise due to various factors, and one of the most important is the transformation of Wrigley Field and its surrounding neighborhood and commercial district into an enjoyable baseball mecca. Excitement for the team translates into greater revenue for local businesses even when the Cubs play away games; the sports pubs, restaurants and memorabilia shops do brisk business from fans who want to experience greater atmosphere than staying home and catching the game on Comcast SportsNet, and this is a trend that extends to other communities such as Rockford, where sports bars and restaurants saw 25 percent increases in sales during the playoff games.
It certainly helps that Wrigleyville is the greatest complement Cubs fans can hope for; as long as the team keeps making the playoffs and keeping World Series hopes alive, the local business community will cash in. The next step, aside from going to the World Series, is to keep developing the baseball atmosphere and attract tourists who want the full Cubs fan experience