The Chicago Cubs haven't won the World Series in nearly ... forever. They rarely field a competitive squad. Cubs fans probably invented the phrase, "there's always next year."
Yet for all that the franchise is valued in the range of $500-$600 million. Take a trip to Wrigley Field on a summer afternoon [a weekday no less] and, even when hosting a last place team [well, the Cubs are often in last place so they might be hosting the 2nd worst], the bleachers are buzzing.
I won't deny that their TV package with WGN gives them a national fan base, but it still doesn't account for the people who turn out for the home-opener in 30 degree weather.
Why? Because a day game at Wrigley Field is the ultimate experience for both the hardcore sports fan and the casual spectator. Wrigleyville. The intimacy of a 'small' ballpark. The bullpens in full view along the right and left field lines [I remember as a kid having conversations with the players in the bullpen during lulls in the action. What an incredible thrill for a 10 year old]. The beer vendors -- some young and bright-eyed, others old and ornery [I prefer the latter]. The manually-operated scoreboard. The ivy. And of course our beloved Bleacher Bums.
This is why people come back game-after-game, year-after-losing-year. Because, with the possible exception of Fenway Park, there's no experience like it. Must be a lesson somewhere in there for all types of organizations that aspire to be experience-led.