November 1, 2016
Chicago bars on hot seat for massive cover charges
The Chicago Cubs are in the World Series for the first time in generations, and Cubs fans are feeling the love … but their favorite sports bars may not be sharing that love. Several sports bars in fabled Wrigleyville have started charging a cover for fans coming in to watch the games. Not all the bars are doing so, but some of the pubs are demanding upwards of $200 a head just to watch the game in their bar.
According to CNN, Stretch Bar & Grill charged $250 for game three and $300 for game four on Saturday. According to the report, the charge included “one food item, open bar, and party favors”. While that “open bar” may sound attractive to some, there’s no doubt these bars are cashing in on Cubs fans’ excitement. That just doesn’t sit well with some fans. This isn’t unique. Other bars are demanding very similar “offers,” with more or less value depending on the location and the game.
Some are even piling on extra fees for a “guaranteed” seat, and couches, tables, and stools are going fast. The added costs rankle even the fans who are willing to pay hundreds just to sit in a bar to watch their beloved Cubbies vie for the pennant.
While there’s little doubt the bars will be packed – bar owners can count on enough fans who want to experience the dubious joy of sharing a bar with strangers to watch the game so much that they’re willing to pay for the privilege. There’s not been a lot of thought to the many other fans who will be terminally turned off by the fact that they couldn’t get into their favorite watering hole to watch the games.
So, while bar owners are counting their blessings as their cash registers fill up, they need to be giving some thought to what they will do to get back into the good graces of their regulars who may not be able to front the ticket money required to enjoy the game in comfortable confines.
It’s an important consideration for any brand who wants to present some kind of exclusive VIP offer. While a relatively small number of customers will feel very special, a much larger number will know what it feels like to be excluded, and they won’t relish that feeling even a little bit. Salving those hurt feelings and lost memories should be part of the overall PR plan for bar owners who can manage to look past the quick buck.