The gig is up on the North Side. For the 23 years of my existence, Cubs fans have been saddled with bad-to-mediocre baseball with a sprinkle of good. And for a good chunk of those years, part of the reason the Cubs have sucked like no other team in sports history is because of ownership's reluctance to put into the team what the fans put into them.
Remember when Andy MacPhail and Bud Selig tried telling baseball fans that the MLB and almost all of its franchises were getting by, if only by the skin of their teeth. Then, days later, a report came out that most baseball teams were profiting with he Cubs being among the top three? I do. It confirmed to me something that true Cubs fans (not that guy who goes out there and blatantly tries to make him the most hardcorediehardfanboyevar) knew all along. There's always been money in the safe, but no one knows the access code.
Yahoo! Sports found the access code and broke it down here. I will break it down further after the jump.
David Kaplan suggests new owner Tom Ricketts might be penny-pinching in his first year of ownership. I suggest that Kaplan give me the access he has when it comes to covering Chicago sports teams. I guess we're all full of suggestions, huh?
Ricketts closing his wallet after spending $845 million on the baseball team he's loved since childhood would be like me buying a Cadillac Escalade and not ponying up for an iPod adapter to bump some tunes out of my new whip.
So, why should Ricketts make it rain during his ownership regime? Well, for starters, the Cubs are in more green than a Brazilian rain forest.
GATE RECEIPTS: $140 MILLION ESTIMATED ANNUAL REVENUE
People flock to Wrigley by the tens of thousands on a daily basis. When the Cubs aren't there, they go by the hundreds. The ballpark on Clark & Addison is more than a place where grown men pay a child's game and make millions of dollars to do so. Admittedly, it's a tourist attraction. But it's cool. Disneyland is a tourist attraction too, and that place makes bank. So do the Cubs.
In 2005, more than 3 million people made the trek to Wrigley Field, marking the first time the Cubs had eclipsed the 3 million mark. They won 79 games that year. In 2006, they lost 96 games and drew more people. I think it's time, and I feel as if Mr. Ricketts would agree with me on this one, that it is time to reward the fans that help fill your bank account.
BROADCAST RIGHTS: $70 MILLION ESTIMATED ANNUAL VALUE
I've seen a lot of baseball over the years. Most of it through friends who have the MLB package or at sports books in Las Vegas. I've heard/seen a lot of broadcast teams, and on the TV side, Len Kasper and Bob Brenly are among the best. If you disagree, that means you are a White Sox fan who would rather hear Hawk say absolutely nothing during a loss and read Steve Stone's Twitter page bashing Milton Bradley while turning a blind eye to the steaming pile of shit left by Alex Rios and his .156 batting average since joining the White Sox.
Pat Hughes is great on the radio side. Ron Santo, eh, not so much. He's like Hawk ... but has never traded Bobby Bonilla nor has he ever fired Tony La Russa.
And yet, despite Ronnie's shortcomings, the Cubs will still bank $70 million a year because of broadcast rights. That's a ridiculous amount of money, so much so, maybe it could buy good ol' Ronnie some original analysis.
CONCESSIONS: $15 MILLION ESTIMATED ANNUAL VALUE
The no-brainer of no-brainers. Beer is expensive. So is food. But it doesn't matter that I can go to the Full Shilling down the street, eat for free and pay the same $6 for a beer that is two times bigger than the one I will buy at the ball park. I'll still buy food and drinks at the game anyway. So will approximately 40,000 of my closest friends. Something has got to distract us while Aaron Miles is at the plate or Kevin Gregg is on the mound.
You know how when you drink beer at the bar, sometimes the girls look prettier. It's too bad it can't have that same affect (effect?) when Miles, Gregg or any of these other mopes take the field.
COMCAST SPORTS NET CHICAGO: $15 MILLION ESTIMATED ANNUAL VALUE
Allow me to quote the Yahoo! story for this passage. "The Cubs make an estimated $15 million a year from Comcast – a quarter of the regional network’s profits – and the ownership stake is worth far more. Three people involved in the pending sale valued the 25 percent stake at no less than $180 million. The big payoff could begin a decade from now."
Um, is that a lot of money or is that a lot of money?
In addition to those eye-popping numbers, the Cubs will also get a healthy $100 million tax break and $45 million through other revenue streams. Sure, the Cubs have to kick back $35 million thanks to the collective bargaining agreement, but it's a price the Cubs could afford. Put it this way, it comes out to approximately as much asthe 2010 salaries of Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano.
So when Dave Kaplan says the Cubs should save some money by letting Rich Harden walk, I laugh. And when he says the Cubs won't get in a bidding war for a player's services, I laugh harder. And when Kaplan suggests the Cubs should wait and try to find a bargain such as Kyle Lohse, my face turns red with anger and I start cursing at my computer screen.
Kap, if you think you can win a World Series with a rotation full of pitchers who will make $32.625 million over the next year and hold a career record of 83-88, then you and Stoney should go buy a team and make it happen.
I'll take my chances with my 5 inning starter with a 10.9 strikeout-per-nine ratio.