Business grad plays key role for Cubs fandom
Chicago Cubs fans are a passionate, loyal bunch, and they all have their own story about how they became a fan. For Brad Nagel ’07, it was his grandparents, die-hard fans who never missed a game.
Now, after growing up watching the North Siders, Nagel has what many Cubs fans would consider a dream job: manager of fan services for the team.
“That brand, it’s got such an iconic reach,” Nagel said. “It’s cool to just be a part of it.”
The Orland Park native studied business administration at Illinois State, making contacts through the College of Business. He was involved in the Business Administration Association but spent a lot of time off campus – way off campus. Nagel did internships at Walt Disney World in Orlando, for the Los Angeles Galaxy Major League Soccer team (he’s a lifelong soccer fan), and down the street with Bloomington’s minor league hockey team.
Nagel also interned with the Cubs in 2008, after graduating. The Cubbies won 97 games and their division that season. Hopes soared at Wrigley that the World Series drought, dating back to 1908, would be washed away.
“I thought I was the lucky charm to get them over the hump,” Nagel, now 27, told STATEside. “Then we got swept in the playoffs, and I soon came back to the reality of being a Cubs fan.”
During an exit interview for that internship, Nagel pitched some ideas for bridging what he thought was disconnect between the Cubs’ front office and its loyal fans. The Cubs called him in 2009 and brought him on board as a full-time customer relations coordinator, capturing fan feedback through emails, calls and letters. When the Ricketts family bought the team toward the end of 2009, one of their first initiatives was the creation of a Fan Experiences Department, where Nagel eventually landed.
He helped create the Cubs Ambassador Program, staffed by a crew of 25 part-timers who help with events and give tours of Wrigley Field, among other jobs. Last year, he was named manager of fan services in the ticketing office, overseeing the communication center and pulling other duties.
Want to know if you can get a birthday message on the scoreboard, or where you can park near Wrigley, or how you can take an on-field photo? Nagel’s crew will get you an answer. His favorite part of the job is that close interaction with fans, hearing their story of being a Cubs fan – through thick and thin.
“A lot of organizations are outsourcing customer service and making it automated,” Nagel said. “With the Cubs, we wanted to make sure we still had that personal interaction and made it easy for people to get in touch with us.”
The Cubs had a tough 2012 campaign, losing 101 games in a rebuilding year under new front-office leadership. The World Series gets under way Wednesday night, and Nagel and the Cubs staffers are planning for 2013, working on plans for the Cubs convention and season-ticket holder renewals.
“It never really slows down,” he said.
Ryan Denham can be reached at email@example.com.