WRIGLEYVILLE — While representatives of the Cubs said the team's postseason run boosted Chicago’s economy by far more than it cost the city, an expert said the team's World Series victory was probably a wash for the city’s economy.
In all, the Cubs' first World Series championship in 108 years cost the city $18.8 million, according to figures released by City Hall in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
Police protection for the three World Series games that took place at Wrigley Field accounted for nearly 80 percent of the $14.7 million total.
A study by consulting firm Conventions, Sports and Leisure International on behalf of the Cubs found that the team's run to postseason glory created 405 full- and part-time jobs and $37.5 million in "net new spending."
That figure does not include the $6 million in amusement taxes generated by the Cubs during the postseason, said Julian Green, a spokesman for the team. Nor does it account for "related sales taxes generated from this increased economic activity," Green said.
In a message dated Nov. 3 that was sent to Cubs officials, Bill Rhoda, president of Conventions, Sports and Leisure International, said the study was "obviously based on a lot of assumptions."
According to Allen Sanderson, a senior lecturer in the University of Chicago Economics Department, those assumptions don't hold up.
"At best, it is a wash," Sanderson said of the economic impact on cities where sports franchises win it all. "In many cases, cities lose money."
Unlike the Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks and White Sox, the Cubs draw tourists — and their wallets — to Chicago, Sanderson said.
The city saw a record number of tourists in 2016 — 54.1 million visitors came to the city in 2016, up 2.9 percent from the previous year, also a record. Officials said the Cubs championship contributed to the overall tourism spending in Chicago of $15 billion.
The number of Airbnb rentals in Wrigleyville — and their cost — skyrocketed during the playoff run, no doubt lining the pockets of hosts all over the North Side.
But there were likely few tourists in the stands during playoff and World Series games, as season ticket holders snapped up the coveted ducats, Sanderson said.
But the team's victory — and status as media darlings who appeared on shows like "Saturday Night Live" — will likely drive demand for tickets for regular season games this year, Sanderson said.
"The team could boost Chicago in the long term," Sanderson said, adding that the team's victory pushed news of the surge of murders and shootings concentrated on Chicago's West and South sides off the front pages — at least for a few weeks.
"The city was getting hammered there nationally," Sanderson said. "This was good news for Chicago."
The Cubs open the 2017 season April 3 in St. Louis.
The Cubs and Wrigley Field are 95 percent owned by an entity controlled by a trust established for the benefit of the family of Joe Ricketts, owner and CEO of DNAinfo.com. Joe Ricketts has no direct involvement in the management of the iconic team.