With the economy in the tank, many businesses can’t afford the high-priced luxury of a Wrigley suite. To accommodate this, the Cubs have converted one skybox into an actual money-burning machine.

“Fans have said that spending thousands of dollars a game to watch this team is akin to lighting their cash on fire,” said Cubs President Crane Kenney. “So we figured we’d give them the actual experience at just have the price of a regular skybox.”

The move has caught the attention of those who run the league.

“When we talk about new revenue streams we usually are referring to the Internet, MLB Network or hidden ticket fees,” said Commissioner Bud Selig. “But this idea shows real innovation.”

The Cubs estimate the change will result in additional income coming from no longer having to wait until the host is drunk enough before signing off on in-game luxury additions such as a dessert cart, top shelf liquor or a key to the bathroom.

One of the skybox’s first visitors, Jeff Sanders of Goldman Sachs, said it was a perfect place to entertain clients.

“Anyone who thinks owning a race horse or having a personal jet is the way to flaunt your wealth hasn’t tried making it rain into a money-burning machine,” he said. “My clients are going to be really impressed.”

But in small markets like Kansas City, the enthusiasm isn’t quite as strong.

“Unless we can find a way to burn spare change at a safe temperature, I don’t see this working here,” said Royals GM Dayton Moore. “It’s just one more example of how the competitive playing field is tilted to the big markets.”

From the May 2010 issue by Giles Tellum. Click here to subscribe today!