As someone that lives in Wrigleyville and has been a Cubs fan and a Chicagoan (okay, the suburbs, but you get the point) for my entire life, I think I sometimes take the Cubs’ popularity for granted.
We take for granted that, for some odd reason, this particular team in this particular city is and has almost always been good at garnering attention and drawing fans to the ball park.
As we all well know, it’s not because the Cubs have been particularly good over the years. Instead it’s something indescribable. Lovable losers, bleacher buns (edit: er, also bums), Old Style, curses; whatever it is, people have always been drawn to the Chicago Cubs.
That said, when they’re good … boy does the band wagon fill on up.
In a report at Crains Chicago Business, Danny Ecker writes that, “Forty-nine percent of Chicagoans watched, attended or listened to a Cubs game during the year [last year], according to data released this week.” Indeed, according to data from the research firm Nielsen Scarborough, the Cubs drew the attention of 49% of Chicagoans thanks to their unexpected, but exciting post season run.
Of course, without context, that number is a little hard to understand.
For reference, 49% represents a massive 13% increase from the previous year’s total, and the highest mark in the last four years. Here’s how Chicago’s five major sports teams stacked up in the that recent fan based poll:
- Chicago Bears: 57 percent
- Chicago Blackhawks: 50 percent
- Chicago Cubs: 49 percent
- Chicago Bulls: 44 percent
- Chicago White Sox: 35 percent
I often find it difficult to contextualize the tangible importance to Cubs fans of the Cubs’ popularity, relevance, ticket sales, TV ratings, etc., but I assure it is paramount to the team’s future and success. The bigger the footprint of the Chicago Cubs, the stronger the brand. The stronger the brand, the bigger the revenues. And, of course, the bigger the revenues, the more the Cubs can spend on the organization.
It’s easy to hope that the Cubs owners will just do (or spend) whatever it takes to put a winning team on the field (and, let’s be fair, the Ricketts have seemingly done just that, consistent with the rebuild), but it sure makes decisions easier when they have a smaller chance of putting you in the red. So, when reports come out suggesting the Cubs are more popular than they were at whatever other arbitrary point, it’s more important than just a feather in the cap of the marketing team. These results might someday soon have a real, significant impact on the product you see on the field, and that’s important to all fans and owners (and neato Cubs blogs like Bleacher Nation!) alike.
So keep it up, Cubs fans. I know they’re fun to watch.