Hungry Cubs, Sox Fans Will Pay

As MLB faces steep attendance decline, local teams aren't planning on discounts

It is going to be a bad year for baseball.

Oh, the product on the field will still be good -- it's off the field, on balance sheets, where the league is going to have its troubles. This isn't unique. The NBA is having its own share of problems, and other sports leagues are likely soon to follow suit. But because the baseball season is hitting its stride just as the worst of the recession hits, it will be unusually affected by its fans economic woes in 2009.

Yesterday, Peter Gammons reported that baseball executives were expecting an overall 15-to-20 percent decline in attendance in 2009. That's bad enough. What's worse, at least for smaller market teams, is that the decrease won't be spread evenly. It'll affect a some teams far worse than it affects others.

Apparently, the Cubs and White Sox aren't worried. While teams like the Brewers and Reds experiment with different food gimmicks -- they're using a fast-food style "Dollar Menu", for example -- neither local team yet has plans to lower the food prices at their parks. One White Sox official hasn't ruled it out, saying this "could change by Opening Day."

For now, it's good news, because it likely means the Cubs and the White Sox aren't expecting the same attendance drop-offs other teams are going to feel. The Cubs would seem to be secure regardless. They have a rabid fan base and have already sold out the season; if people have already bought the tickets, getting the to splurge for (bad) Wrigley food shouldn't be a huge concern.

The White Sox, on the other hand, have more difficult issues with attendance, but their food also has a much better reputation than most ballparks. Perhaps that can sustain the concessions business. If not, be prepared to take a trip back in time, when Italian sausages were a dollar, beers were $3, and extra onions didn't cost you extra money. Recession or not, that sounds pretty nice.

Eamonn Brennan is a writer, editor and blogger who could really go for a sausage right now. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, FanHouse, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, Follow him on Twitter.

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