A new local startup that provides private jets for same-day sporting event travel could be a viable option for die-hard (and especially bourgeoisie) Bears fans who just can’t miss a game against the Green Bay Packers in Wisconsin.
Big Game Air, founded by Chicago entrepreneurs Arturo Gomez and Todd Rubin, launches today in Chicago, with initial flights taking off this September. The service offers sports fans the convenience of traveling on a private jet to professional and college sporting events with the option of returning home the very same day.
Gomez is the former president and partner at Rockit Ranch Productions, which manages restaurants and bars in River North and Wrigleyville. Rubin owns Leader Bar Chicago, an Irving Park sports bar that specializes in craft and draft beer.
They came up with the idea for Big Game Air last August after Gomez needed a private jet to attend a University of Iowa and University of Michigan football game in Iowa City, Iowa, and make it home that night to his wife and newborn.
“That’s how the concept started—just kind of my passion for college football and my desire to not get divorced,” Gomez said.
Since then, they’ve raised $1 million from undisclosed Chicago investors and opened an office with three full-time employees at WeWork in River North.
Big Game Air jets can accommodate anywhere from nine to 30 people, and a round-trip ticket starts at $1,200 and can range up to $2,200 per person, depending on where travelers are headed and how big of a jet they’re on. Once patrons have arrived at their destination, the company provides them with on-the-ground-transportation to and from the sporting event.
While en route, travelers can enjoy specialty packages with food and beverages, including alcoholic drinks. They can also elect to have jet hanger parties or the company of professional athletes and celebrities.
“Is there a market for it? Absolutely,” Gomez said. “When you look at the experiential economy and how people are spending their money today for experiences, I think that this fits firmly into the middle of that.”
About 90 percent of flights will operate out of Chicago from Midway International Airport and the Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling, Ill., the founders said. Other flights will depart from Columbus, New York and Detroit, and there are plans to expand to Dallas and Atlanta. Destinations mainly include big sports towns, like Green Bay, Wis., Iowa City, Iowa, Lincoln, Neb. and Ann Arbor, Mich.
Flight tickets can be purchased on Big Game Air’s website. Though they don’t offer flights to every single sporting event, they try to offer flights to major ones that will attract a significant number of ticket-buyers. Their schedule currently includes September games like Notre Dame at Michigan State and the Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers. Other events in the future will include the Kentucky Derby and the NBA All-Star game, Rubin said.
Because Big Game Air doesn’t sell tickets to the actual sporting event, only for the flight, they’ve partnered with SeatGeek, an event ticket marketplace based in New York, which sells tickets for various types of events. Of course, game-goers might already have season tickets or find them elsewhere.
“Everybody has their idea of what a good ticket is,” Rubin said. “Some people want to be on the 50-yard line, some people want to be on the 20-yard line and some people don’t care. It’s better to let them choose for themselves.”