The quantifiable economic impact of a professional sports team in the Chicagoland area has been debated for years and the argument will continue for decades to come. Economists will state that consumer spending on professional sports would merely be spent on other forms of entertainment; hence there is no “added value” to the economy.
Whichever side of the debate you favor, one thing is for certain: professional sports means big business for Chicago. The value of the major sports franchises to Chicagoland transcends the “civic pride” that citizens feel when their team is a winner on the field. Keeping score in professional sports goes far beyond the final outcome of a game on the playing field.
A simple but valuable effect a team can have on the economic community is drawing visitors. Stadiums and arenas throughout Chicagoland hold tens of thousands of people and host athletic contests year-round — bringing fans from all over the world to the area. Drawing people into the region fuels growth for many other economic sectors that also serve these individuals. Jobs are created in a wide range of industries to handle the influx of visitors who rely on regional services while they are in town.
Many industries look for corporate partnerships and brand-building opportunities with professional sports teams as they search for a competitive edge. Creative sports marketing and advertising vehicles help corporations to more effectively reach their consumer base. Two examples of how different industries have created business relationships with pro-sports franchises include the ‘naming rights’ deal at U.S. Cellular Field and the ‘presenting partner’ arrangement between the Chicago Bears and JP Morgan Chase. The possibilities are endless, with potential results ranging from improved name recognition, enhanced brand loyalty, creative product launches, new venture opportunities and financial growth. Intertwined within these economic and marketing opportunities is the pride of being associated with the rich Chicago tradition that is inherent with every professional sports franchise in our City.
Sports franchises will continue to be a vibrant part of the business community, helping to create numerous business opportunities within multiple economic sectors. Our sports stadiums and arenas have become architectural icons and destination points, adding beauty and new neighborhood identities, while providing wonderful experiences for residents and visitors to enjoy for years to come.
Building a winner is what every business strives for in the face of stiff competition. We are all fortunate to have incredible economic opportunities while operating in a championship city. And congratulations to the world champion Chicago White Sox. They embody the true essence of teamwork. It is in that same spirit that all businesses, both large and small, should develop a competitive edge that helps keep Chicago one of the nation’s fastest growing business centers and, of course, home to championship-caliber sports teams.
Ted Phillips President
and CEO, Chicago Bears