Cubs giving high-priced Wrigley fans own private bar, bathrooms

Speaking of stuff sports teams owners build because they think it’ll help them make more money, the Chicago Cubs ownership has revealed the next renovations to Wrigley Field coming down the pike:

As part of the 1060 Project, an overhaul to the stadium and the area surrounding the venerable ballpark, the Cubs revealed plans for the first of four “premier experiences” Tuesday and launched a priority list for those interested in plopping down a $500 deposit to secure their spot for the right to some exclusive amenities.

The American Airlines 1914 Club is scheduled to open for the 2018 season underneath the club box seating bowl between the home and visiting dugouts.

After the last out of the ’16 season, crews will begin tearing apart the lower bowl behind home plate to build the shell for the club, which will not provide a view of the field but will give fans with tickets in the area a place to go before and during games for upgraded food and beverage options, shelter from the elements and private restrooms. The re-done seating area will be ready for the ’17 season and construction will continue underneath.

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts is paying for this out of his own pocket, so at least there are no worries about public subsidies going to create what will effectively be an upscale private bar in a baseball stadium. And as far as the Wrigley Field experience goes, the effect should be minimal: The dugouts will be moved a little bit farther down the lines, but probably hardly anyone will notice otherwise.

Mostly, it’s a reminder of what “state-of-the-art” is all about in stadium construction: ways to sell well-off people stuff that can justify sky-high ticket prices. Cubs VP for sales and marketing Colin Faulkner told the Chicago Tribune, “They’re paying up to $350 a ticket in that area and the value that we’re providing them right now is not in line with what they expect.” Apparently what makes people who can afford $350 a ticket feel like the expense is worth it is some marble tabletops to sip their top-shelf liquor at, and not having to go the bathroom next to the hoi polloi. Strange world we live in.


21 comments on “Cubs giving high-priced Wrigley fans own private bar, bathrooms

  1. I would check the accounting carefully before I assume the owner is really paying this out of his pocket. Public subsidies have a way of creeping in somehow when it comes to construction, maintenance, repairs and upgrades.

  2. This is Chicago, we don’t have “pikes.” We have tollways, and nothing comes down them. You just sit there wondering why you just paid $2 to go nowhere.

  3. It’s not strange! And it’s not just for the well-off.

    What do you love about going to baseball games? Energy of the crowd, drama of the game, amazing athaletes, etc.

    What do you hate? Bathrooms, cramped space for three hours, not being able to stretch your legs, etc.

    These Club areas just allow you to eliminate a few unnecessary negatives at a price.

    As for the clientele, lots and lots of Club ticket holders are not super wealthy. They’re regular folks who use discretionary income on a nicer ballpark experience, employees of big companies, etc.

    • Ben, if you really think that anyone not well-off (I used that term intentionally rather than “rich,” which I agree would be inaccurate) has $350 in discretionary income to spend on regular season Cubs tickets, I’d suggest perusing this chart:

      http://www.mybudget360.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/household-income-distribution.png

      My family income is pretty close to the 90th percentile, and we could never ever in a million years afford $350 seats, even as a splurge.

      • Hear hear…..

        $350 is insane…..no argument there in the least, barring it is a one time event….or….showing my age here….buying two rows of tickets at the old Palladium in NYC for a concert. But for one regular season game?

        Also what Ben stated really came off as an eltist excuse for exclusive box seats/suites. Sorry, but in no way are those who are regular fans an “unnecessary extra’.

        • I think the Cubs have actually hit on truth. Paying $350 for a ticket to 1/162 of a season for a team that hasn’t won in a century really does make little sense without additional amenities.

          Unfortunately for Cubs fans, even adding the additional amenities means you still paid $350, but with only a slightly shorter bathroom line and the ability to get an expensive gin and tonic.

          • what about all of the people who “just want to be in the building” for the experience? I am sure that those people would put up with lousy bathrooms.

      • Our household income was $275,000 last year and I go to maybe one sporting event a year with my son, and won’t go for tickets over $100.

        A dirty little secret is that if you take a child to a minor league game, or even just a men’s league game at a city facility, they like it 95% as much and it is free!

        How people who make say $80k/year think they can afford to drop $300-500 going to a game a couple times a year is beyond me, but people do it. Probably on credit cards :(

      • OK, so you won’t pay 0.26% of your income for great tickets to a baseball game. Many, many other people do.

  4. Come on Ricketts, we need vaportechture pictures of these new bathrooms. I’m expecting toilets with heated bidet seats and real cotton towels.

    • Don’t set your sights so low Chef…. true upper crust baseball connoisseurs will not accept automated bidets…. they are so impersonal. We demand that poor people staff the upper echelon toilets in these facilities to do the job the bidets could do for us.

      What is the point of being rich if you can’t flaunt it?

  5. There is a photo gallery you can click to see in the main photo of the article: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/ct-wrigley-field-suites-20160719-story.html

  6. If stupid rich people are willing to pay Ricketts this much to be surrounded by other stupid rich people rather than “average” fans, it doesn’t bother me. As you say, he doesn’t appear to be seeking public funding for this upgrade.

    However, given the price of seating in this area already, why would they bother? Pretty clearly only the well to do are going to pay this kind of money (which, compared to the Yankees once $2,500 but now, what, $1,200 seats, still seems like a bargain), so they are already surrounded by their own kind. Still, I suppose a fool and his money etc.

    Do we know how much more Ricketts intends to charge for these seats once the extra special club area is constructed?

  7. Just cut round holes in the current seats and put buckets under them. No more bathroom lines. No missing any of the game. Problem solved. Like this: http://imgur.com/gallery/RUrviB4

    • Who needs holes in their seats? People used to pee in their beer cups in the yankee stadium bleachers all the time. I’m sure they still do it in the bleachers at wrigley!

  8. Given that it’s the Cubs we’re talking about, a Wrigley experience with that minimizes viewing of the Cubs themselves is a real upgrade.

  9. Ugh. As if I needed more to hate about the Ricketts. Never forgave them for the video boards. Now this.

    • Yeah. It’s pretty clear Ricketts has no use for “legacy” Cub fans… having said that, given the prices these days, I’m not sure that there are that many fans left in the ballpark who used to come out to watch our beer bellied infielders stumble around in the early 80s…

      Like so many things that were once labour(s) of love, Cub tickets (and fandom) tend to be more like fashion accessories these days….

  10. Isn’t Ricketts and Ted Cruz the same guy. I can see someone spending $350 on a playoff game , but on a regular season game in a 162 game schedule. Rich A-hole.

  11. Nothing “strange” about exclusivity in return for a high asking price.
    All mallparks are about that as the big-time sports industry is as so are many other businesses that sell “entertainment” to various economic levels and are – like opera companies in taxpayer-financed halls.
    Only in Bernie-world is it “strange”.

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