Monday, March 12, 2012

The Cubs have a problem...and so do ticket brokers.

Single game tickets went on sale last Friday.

I stepped into the virtual waiting room, at 10 AM, and got to the order window at about 11:15 or so.  I searched to find a game.  Yes...just one game that I would purchase tickets this season for my family (3 tickets...since my 1 year old son will is free).  Well, six days I decided I would choose from.  I deliberately decided against anything in the upper deck since that is where I have mostly sat for the last 9 seasons.  I got my tickets

I was able to find good seats to all six of the days that I potentially could buy tickets to.  I picked the day with the cheapest tickets, and got some nice seats not too far from the field and a Sunday afternoon against Sean Marshall and the Reds.

When I was done with that order, I went back to the Cubs site to see how backed up the virtual waiting room was.  To my surprise, there was no wait.  None.

About that same time, Wayne Buckner from The Wrigley Blog posted a picture showing the ticket windows in front of Wrigley...and not a single person buying tickets.


So what's going on here?

Three possibilities...

The Cubs already sold a majority of the tickets in other sales...season tickets, 9 & 6 game packs and the Mastercard pre-sale.


People don't want to buy tickets.


The people expect to get tickets for much cheaper on the secondary market.

Here is the reason I believe the first explanation is probably false...

As of this evening, not a single game has sold out...none of the Boston games and not even opening day.  If you want to go to opening day, you can go right now to the Cubs website and buy a ticket.

The game closest to selling out is the Saturday game against the Red Sox...and they have tickets available are, unbelievably, bleacher seats!  Cubs-White Sox...there are tickets available for all three of those games too.

The truth is, the Cubs tried get people to buy these 6 and 9 games packages under the impression that this was best way of getting opening day or Red Sox tickets.  Now those people bought tickets to all those other "crappy" games when they could have paid face value for those good games, and then gone to StubHub and paid only half or a quarter of the price for the crappy games in that package.

We could assume that the second reason is very much.  The economy is still not very good, and despite what the Cubs say, ticket prices went up on the games that people are most available to go to (or willing to go to).  They can make the ticket prices for all the games in April $2.50, they still aren't going to sell out those games with a team this crappy.  So they made more crappy games cheaper and advertised that ticket prices were reduced.  Big deal.  I bought tickets for the right field corner against the Reds on a Sunday afternoon and still spent over $100 per ticket.  Do you think I've shed many tears giving up my season tickets?  I could buy tickets to every game this season on StubHub and via the Cubs website and probably pay 75% of what I would have paid for a full season package.

That brings me to the third point.  Last season, a large number of games (probably close to 25 or 30), good seats were going for $5 or less on the secondary market.  Why bother paying the Cubs full price when season ticket holders and ticket brokers were virtually giving tickets away.

There was a time I could make a profit on my season ticket package.  I couldn't go to all the games living way up here in Wisconsin.  But I could sell 1/2 my tickets, with a focus on some of the biggest games, and end up paying for my entire package and then some.  I never intended to always do hope was to be able to move back to Chicago at some point and then be able to go to all the games in my package.  Nine years later, I still lived in Wisconsin, and I had a harder time giving away Cubs tickets than tickets from  Chuck E. Cheese's.

The Cubs have made a lot of ticket brokers rich since 2003...but now those ticket brokers are in trouble.  If the Cubs can't sell out the supposed biggest game of year, Saturday against the Red Sox, how are these guys going to make any money this year?

Another sign that people just don't want to buy these tickets?  The season ticket waiting list.  Realizing that I might need more than just the 2 seats I had with my season ticket package at some point in the future, I decided that I would put my name on the season ticket waiting list number of years back.  Last year I was at the 68,000 spot on the list.  This year I'm at 57,000.  I was able to move up 11,000 spots in one year.  There is no way that 11,000 people didn't renew this year.  Not seats...people.  I even doubt that 11,000 season tickets were not renewed this year either.  What has happened is that probably upwards of a thousand or so people (including me) decided against renewing their season tickets this year and only 1 in 11 people on the waiting list actually chose to go ahead and purchase tickets this year resulting in 10,000 people forfeiting their spot in the queue.

Things will likely change if this team gets better...but that probably isn't going to happen for a few years.  In the mean time, as the Cubs attempt to pay off the huge debt they have, and try to figure out how to pay for renovations to the ballpark, are beginning to suffer from a drop in revenue from ticket sales.

And ticket brokers are stuck with a huge supply and absolutely no demand.

This isn't surprising.

The economy sucks.
The prices suck.
The ballpark sucks.
And the teams sucks.