Go, businesses, go!
Wrigley Field. Photo courtesy: PandamicPhoto.com, Flickr
The baseball offseason for the Wrigleyville neighborhood is usually seen as a recovery period from a full season of Cubs celebration that, in the past, has ended with the team heartbreakingly missing another chance for the World Series title. This offseason is different.
Businesses in Wrigleyville are flying the W too, and not just for the Cub’s World Series win. Since the “Lovable Losers” have turned into the “Lovable Winners,” local businesses in this Cubs-centered community have seen benefits. This season brought a boom from the field that extended to the stores.
A big contributor to the growth seen in local businesses is simply the extensive length of the Cubs’ postseason. The National League Division Series (NLDS) vs. the San Francisco Giants lasted four games, the National League Championship Series (NLCS) vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers lasted six games, and the World Series vs. the Cleveland Indians lasted seven games. Each game is treated as an additional chance for revenue outside of the regular season 162-game schedule.
“The postseason lasted a lot longer, so that’s big for us. Every time we have an extra day, that is basically taking your sales up for the month by like 10 percent,” said Matt Bonnstetter, manager of Murphy’s Bleachers, a famous Wrigleyville bar. “Business is up 30 percent I’d say… Anyone who’s coming in town to Chicago wants to come by Wrigley Field.”
If you’ve seen some unfamiliar faces strolling around outside Wrigley Field, don’t be alarmed. Out of state diehard fans and those who couldn’t be in town for the World Series push are still making the pilgrimage to Clark and Addison.
“Everyone’s just so excited,” said Sean Jaigobind, a Clark Street Sports sales associate. “We’ve had people come in from different countries, different states. They’ve been dying to come and buy some merchandise.”
Despite the Cubs beating both teams this postseason, there have even been sightings of Los Angeles and San Francisco natives decked out in the respective Dodgers and Giants gear rotating through the store looking to buy some once-in-a-lifetime Cubs World Series apparel. “I guess it’s kind of a respect thing,” Jaigobind said.
People can’t get enough of the Cubbies and their miraculous way of breaking a 108-year curse. The roller coaster feelings of game seven are unlike anything else, and fans are not quite done reliving those emotions.
“I’ve had one or two people cry in the store. They’ve told me that they have game seven on their phone, and they rewatch it like once a week with their families,” Jaigobind said.
The scene that night was something that the Wrigleyville neighborhood hasn’t seen in over a century. People hounded together in bars, throughout the streets and around the field as fans were trying to process if this was really, really happening.
“Everybody was hugging each other; everybody was screaming. I think they said over 150,000-200,000 people were just in the neighborhood. When you looked out, you didn’t see cars, you didn’t see walls, you saw people’s faces staring at you. It was wild,” Bonnstetter said about his view of the scene from Murphy’s Bleachers on the corner of Sheffield and Waveland.
And those people are hungry to live through that night again with apparel, as long as it has that beloved World Series Champions logo plastered loud and proud.
Wrigleyville Businesses After World Series Win from Jackie Murray on Vimeo
Clark Street Sports has the advantage of being just a few steps away from the entrance/ exit of the CTA’s Addison stop. When the news broke of the win, fans immediately turned to wherever they could to get the merchandise.
“There was a line out the door waiting for the World Series hats,” Jaigobind said. In past seasons, Clark Street Sports usually uses the World Series date as a timestamp of when to close up shop. Because of the Cubs’ long postseason race and ultimate win, they’ve been able to have a lot more business.
Also, businesses are flourishing because the win brings a great excuse to come down to Wrigleyville. Even amid the construction seen on both Clark and Addison Street, the marquee sign boasting “World Series Champions” shines on. Fans are taking selfies, something their great grandparents couldn’t the last time the Cubs won.
Noah Festenstein, a Harper College student and lifelong Cubs fan living in the suburb Arlington Heights, had a fear of missing out during the postseason. He would make trips on the Metra or took the pain of driving into the city just so he could be in the downtown and Wrigleyville atmosphere during this historic era.
“Chicago hasn’t felt a World Series buzz in a while, and it felt like history was about to be made. I am a huge Cubs fan, and being in the postseason, with the track record of the Cubs, history was destined to be made,” Festenstein said.
This economic boom is far reaching enough that a storefront wasn’t necessary to see a bonus as even some residents of Wrigleyville and Lakeview have benefitted from the Cubs’ surge. Fans other than just the locals wanted to jump in on the postseason fun and needed a place to stay. Out of towners flocked to Airbnb as Wrigley Field was home to Games 3, 4 and 5 of the World Series. That weekend alone in total, about 9,000 travelers who used this home sharing process brought in $2.6 million for Chicago residents, according to data found by Airbnb.
“I think it changed the world,” Bonnstetter said.