Even the Cubs aren’t recession proof

It’s official. No sports team is recession proof. How do I know this? Because I spent the day at the amazing rooftops across from Wrigley Field.

With other teams, it’s hard to tell if it’s the economic times or the performance of the team. But the Cubs provide the perfect control. Why? Because since 1984, fans have filled the park – and subsequently the rooftops – win or lose.

The Cubs, who haven’t won the World Series in more than 100 years, aren’t going to win it this year either. And while a quick glance at the team’s attendance shows 97 percent capacity, the truth is that brokers bought these tickets, but they are not selling many of them – losing thousands of dollars a day.

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The 15 rooftops are feeling it too. Dean Bravos, general manager of Wrigley Done Right who hosted us for the day, says his All-You-Can-Eat and Drink tickets that might sell for $150 are down to about $110. Then factor in that they have to give 17 percent of their gross revenue to the Cubs.

What I learned today is that capacity is not a good indicator of how a team is weathering the storm. Good teams like the Cubs have already sold their tickets. The best way to measure how the economy is putting a hurt on a team is to look at how much of a discount the tickets are going for the secondary market.

Of course, the soon-to-be-owner of the Cubs, Tom Ricketts, was undoubtedly wooed by Teflon nature of the Cubs over the years. And although those who have taken bets on the Cubs (the scalpers, brokers and rooftop owners) are losing out, Ricketts himself isn’t.

Check out the video of my rooftop tour on Wrigley Done Right.


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Updated Thursday, Sep 17, 2009