Chicago Cubs Following Tottenham Hotspur Business Story Arc

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The date is July 25, 2014; Tottenham Hotspur FC are in Chicago to play the Fire in a friendly at Toyota Park the next night. On this evening, members of Tottenham’s side are doing a public appearance at Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs. Budding face of the franchise and English football Harry Kane throws out the ceremonial first pitch before the Cubs take on the San Diego Padres.

Kane, Michael Dawson and Anthony Rizzo do a shirt swap in this Cubs-Spurs international exchange program, but there’s a much bigger reason to revisit a photo-opp five and a half years later. The two franchises, an ocean apart, are set to progress along very similar paths over the next half-decade.

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In the latter half of the 2010s, both clubs will build a winning program and reach heights never before seen on the field of play. At the same time, these two franchises that play in a historic and colorful stadium (Wrigley Field and White Hart Lane) located smack dab in a neighborhood in a huge, thriving metropolis (Chicago and London) will renovate/build sparkling new facilities, replacing the badly outdated, dilapidated facilities in which they currently reside.

They build a winning club, rebuild their stadium infrastructure and then stop spending on personnel. Both the Cubs and Tottenham will develop themselves into a perennial top contender, and then cease spending on roster upgrades.

When you’re standing still, you’re actually falling behind and now the Cubs are letting their competitive window dissipate, just like Spurs.

Both clubs will act/cry poor while at the same time raking in the cash, and taking their franchises valuations higher and higher. In the process, they’ll insult the intelligence of and thus alienate their fan bases.

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But hey, at least you’ll always have the 2016 World Series title/2019 UEFA Champions League runner-up.

For Tottenham, Chairman Daniel Levy has always had a reputation as a hardball negotiator. If he doesn’t get the price he wants on a prospective deal he just won’t do it. Thus, when his club signed midfielder Tanguy Ndombele in June, it was the first time they had signed a new player in literally 517 days!

Tottenham got off to a very rough start this Premier League season as the squad lacked focus and ambition. Why? Because the roster contains a few players that thought they were leaving this summer and didn’t want to stay in north London. Why they didn’t they go? Because Levy didn’t get the sale price he wanted for them.

It was more the mistakes of Levy than it was the errors of manager Mauricio Pochettino, but it was of course the latter, not the former who paid the price for the club’s listlessness.

Since Pochettino was replaced by Jose Mourinho, the club has regained the fine edge, but they’re still paying the price for numerous transfer windows of nothing bu tumbleweeds passing through. They blamed the cost of building the new stadium for the inactivity.

Sound familiar Cubs fans?

Last winter, the Cubs added Daniel Descalso, who barely qualifies as a Major League baseball player and…..and….and….*crickets chirping.* This winter, their big additions are C.D. Pelham, Jharel Cotton, Ryan Tepera, Trevor Megill and Dan Winkler.

With that blockbuster list of superstars, you can just plan the next World Series parade now! The only saving grace for the Cubs this offseason is this- no NL Central team, outside of the Cincinnati Reds, seems interested in actually trying really hard to get a lot better.

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While Ricketts claims the Cubs have no money to spend, the 2019 Forbes list of the world’s 50 most valuable sports franchises says otherwise. The Cubs placed in a tie for 14th place, registering a valuation of $3.1 billion and an operating income of $87 million. Making the Ricketts narrative look even sillier, the Cubs value actually INCREASED from the past year, ramping up 7%, and that’s hard to do given the challenge of maintaining top line growth when you’re up at this level among the fiscally elite.

Ricketts/the Cubs can claim they have no money to spend, because they came in so far over-budget on stadium renovations, but they are spending money in other places.

They have funded a few political campaigns, all of which failed (hopefully, we can say the same for Trump 2020, which the Cubs ownership are so aggressively contributing/fund-raising for).

They’ve also invested in a new legal sports wagering initiative and this will no doubt provide another major revenue stream.

 

As will Marquee Sports Network, and now that every single Cubs game will be on pay tv, with none available for free, will they still be able to cry poor? Sounds a lot like Tottenham, who are the ninth most valuable soccer/football franchise in the world, with a valuation of $1.6 billion, according to Forbes.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

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