Cubs, Levy Restaurants Renew Concession Deal

Jonathan Ferrey

The food at Wrigley Field has gotten better in recent years. There is, however, still one big problem with it.

This might not be the most important thing regarding the Cubs' future, but I thought this announcement made by Levy Restaurants (free registration required to read the link) was worth noting here, and you'll see why below:

The Chicago Cubs have renewed a contract with Levy Restaurants that will keep the Chicago-based food service company running Wrigley Field's concessions and merchandise operations through 2021, the team has confirmed.

The new contract with Levy, which beat out major concession provider players Aramark Sports & Entertainment Services LLC and Legends Hospitality Management, extends a partnership the team has maintained since 1985.

Levy didn't start running all food and retail concessions at the Friendly Confines until 2005, but has run its premium food operations for 28 years.

The value of the Wrigley Field account could soon be rising, too. As a part of the Cubs' recently approved $300 million plan to renovate the ballpark and redevelop its surrounding area, concession facilities are set to expand, allowing both the team and Levy to benefit from quicker customer flow in the concourses.

Let's establish one thing first: Wrigley Field concessions have improved since the Ricketts family took over the Cubs. There are more beer choices, better quality food selections as "Homestand Specials" at the Sheffield Grill, and they do a better job on the presentation as well.

What hasn't improved are concession prices. Beer prices are through the roof. Every time I see a vendor coming through the bleachers with 20-ounce bottles of Pepsi or Diet Pepsi for sale for $5.25, I shake my head and wonder who on Earth pays that kind of price.

Seriously: at the 7-11 across the street from Wrigley at Addison and Sheffield, I can buy the same 20-ounce bottle of Pepsi or Diet Pepsi for $1.69. If the Cubs did that and then re-sold that bottle for $5.25, they'd be making a 300-percent profit. And the Cubs aren't paying retail.

This is one reason I often bring my own food from home; I have been buying the Homestand Special at times for dinner, but only on the 25-percent discount for buying within the first hour after the gates open. That discount drops the price on most concessions (it's not available for alcohol) from outrageous to merely unreasonable.

The Cubs could go a long way toward making a fan-friendly gesture by lowering the prices on everything they sell by 10 percent in 2014. They -- and Levy -- would still be making ridiculous profits, and maybe they'd sell more, because more people would likely consider buying food at the ballpark if the prices were more reasonable.

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