With attendance down at its baseball games this season, it makes good sense for the Chicago White Sox's bottom line that they would allow U.S. Cellular Field to play host this Saturday to popular Houston, Tex.-based televangelist Joel Osteen's so-called "Night of Hope."
The two-and-a-half hour event is expected to attract some 50,000 revelers which, at $15 apiece, will gross an estimated $750,000 for the multi-millionaire preacher's ministry. Based out of the Lakewood Church, the enterprise is said to take in $80 million annually, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. He also has authored many motivational books.
That ministry attracts what is said to be the largest congregation in the United States, regularly drawing in 40,000 or more audience members to its services in addition to the 10 million viewers who tune into his televised programs weekly.
The event will reportedly feature messages from both Osteen and his wife Victoria, in addition to performances by both of their children and "talk about moving forward and becoming all God has created you to be," according to the Sun-Times. The event will also be streamed live on the preacher's website.
The Osteens recently got a "rock star welcome" from some 5,000 people at the Family Christian Center in Munster, Ind. , according to the Northwest Indiana Times.
"There's enough people pulling us down in life," Osteen reportedly told the crowd at the Munster rally. "2011 is going to be your year. God isn't finished with what he started in your life. ... God's greatest victories are not in your past. They are in your future."
In April, the eternally well-coiffed Osteen threw out the first pitch at a Sox game in order to build buzz for the forthcoming appearance.
Three additional "Nights of Hope" are scheduled for Pittsburgh, Penn., Sept. 9; Albuquerque, N.M., Oct. 7 and Cincinnati, Ohio, Nov. 4.
Osteen was the subject of some criticism from LGBT advocates earlier this year when he told CNN's Piers Morgan that "the scripture shows that [homosexuality is] a sin." While he said he had no desire to "bash" homosexuality or play the role of judge, he still said he "always believed" homosexuality to be a sin -- even when pressed by Morgan about why his friend Elton John, too, would be considered a sinner in Osteen's eyes.