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The Economics of Sports Teams / By: Joseph Dai

During the Covid-19 pandemic, sports teams suffered financial losses due to lockdown restrictions. Many teams became profitable again following the lifting of restrictions and the reopening of games. However, the Chicago White Sox have yet to make a recovery, having operated at a loss for three years in a row. According to Forbes Magazine, “the team lost $53 million in 2022 as player expenses have ballooned in recent years, from $72 million in 2021 to $160 million in 2022 and $213 million this year (Forbes, 2023). Additionally, the fan magazine, Sox on 35th, reported that “the Southsiders have drawn [a] total [of] 638,475 fans in 2023. That’s a decrease of 156,734 fans overall and 4,610 fans per game, which means there’s a negative 19.7% difference.(Binder, 2023). Consequently, operating losses due to increasing player expenses and plummeting game attendance have put a financial strain on White Sox management, leading to talks of selling the team and relocating out of Chicago.

Although one might assume that a potential White Sox move would be devastating for the economy, there are factors to consider. According to Dr. Marcus Casey, an urban and labor economics professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, “The team and stadium employ a relatively small number of people in a big city like Chicago. While some people will be hurt, especially summer workers, the team leaving will have a limited impact on overall labor markets in Chicago.” In addition to minimal effects on labor, the neighborhoods surrounding the White Sox are industrial areas, less developed than touristy Wrigleyville, and accordingly, a potential move will not have a drastic impact on neighborhood development. 

The Oakland Athletics is another team considering relocation. Originally from Philadelphia, the team has relocated to various cities and is currently in Las Vegas. The situation is a little different with the Sox as the team has been in Chicago for more than a hundred years, representing a source of pride for the South Side. Daniel Roman, a lifelong White Sox fan, states, “Sox culture is what I grew up around and life without weekly Sox games and community gatherings would be a harsh reality. Therefore, a relocation would be devastating for community identity. Imagine a world where the entirety of Chicago supported one baseball team so…..GO SOX!

Works cited:

Daniel Roman, a student at Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, a White Sox fan

Dr. Marcus Casey, Ph.D., Associate Urban/Labor Economics Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago


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