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Book Indicates Wrigley Faithful Care More About Beer Prices Than Winning

By Chuck Sudo in News on Apr 4, 2011 8:52PM

Leave it to a University of Chicago economist to lend credence to the belief that Wrigley Field is a background to being the World's Largest Beer Garden 81 times a year. Booth School of Business Finance Professor Tobias "Toby" Moskowitz is one of the co-authors of the new book Scorecasting. Moskowitz and Sports Illustrated senior writer Jon Wertham analyzed economic data related to baseball at Wrigley Field in relation to attendance and found that, more often than not. the one factor that tended to lead to decreases in attendance was increases in beer prices, even as tickets to Cubs games became more expensive.

Per the University of Chicago magazine;

From 1984 to 2009, “attendance was more than four times more sensitive to beer prices than to winning or losing.” That sensitivity is evident at the concession stand. A beer at Wrigley Field, Scorecasting reports, costs just $5, cheaper than everywhere except at Arizona Diamondbacks and Pittsburgh Pirates games.

Tickets to Cubs games, on the other hand, have followed a different trajectory. Since 1990, prices have increased 67 percent (the league average is 44.7 percent). Only the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox command more.

Yet people have continued to pay Wrigley Field’s escalating cover charge, filling the stadium to 99 percent capacity. Across town at US Cellular Field, ticket prices and attendance rise and fall based on White Sox wins and losses, but the same beer will run you a buck-fifty more than at Wrigley.

Since buying the Cubs two years ago, the Ricketts family has invested in a revamped scouting program, capital improvements to Wrigley Field and better nutritional programs for the players (things Joel Reese noted in last week's season preview of the Cubs). Wertham and Moskowitz write, though, "the fact that this philosophy is such a marked departure from that of earlier ownerships goes a long way toward explaining the previous century of futility." In order to finance all this, the Rickettses have had to raise prices on concessions across the board, including paying for one Budweiser at Wrigley Field what it would cost us to buy a six-pack for outside the park.

So go the ballpark, Cubs fans, and absorb the extra seventy-five cent cost for a can of Old Style. You could be helping to build a champion by doing so.