What Should The Cubs Do About Rainouts?

Wednesday's postponed game was the second such event already in 2011; the Cubs had no postponements at all in 2010 (and, to my memory, only a couple of rain delays). Last year was very lucky weather-wise; this year, so far, not so much.

The Cubs announced that there would be "no refunds or exchanges" for tickets for Wednesday's rainout; you either use 'em for the makeup game on June 27 at 1:20, or lose 'em.

For the last 20 or so years, the Cubs have had an informal policy of refunding rainout tickets. This wasn't well publicized, but they did so, and also allowed people to use the value of a ticket for a future game if they didn't want a refund. As far as I know, no team has a current policy allowing refunds; some of them give exchanges.

The problem for current management, then, is: Cubs fans have become accustomed to refunds and/or a fairly generous exchange policy. To suddenly be faced with a "no refunds or exchanges" policy, in a year when new ownership is already perceived as "cheap", and the team isn't doing well, is, in my opinion, not very fan-friendly. With ticket prices as high as they are in general in sports, and with an economic recession going on, I'd think teams would want to be more sensitive to fans who have, in some cases, shelled out hundreds of dollars for baseball tickets.

After the jump, a list of all the rainout policies from team websites, and a suggestion for Cubs management.

Six teams: the Blue Jays, Rays, Mariners, Brewers, Astros and Diamondbacks, who have roofed stadiums of various types, obviously have no rainout policies needed. (That number becomes seven next year, as noted below.)

The following nine teams have no specific policy listed or have a policy that depends on the situation: Orioles, Twins, Indians, Angels, Athletics, Phillies, Reds, Giants and Padres. Clearly, some of those teams (the West Coast clubs) have little need for such a policy; the Padres, for example, have been rained out only once in their history (and had that bizarre three-rain-delay suspended game a couple of weeks ago).

Here are the policies for the other 14 teams (all except the Cubs):

Red Sox: no refund/exchange if game is rescheduled using original tickets as valid (similar to Cubs announced policy for Wednesday's game)

Yankees: can exchange for same price ticket within 12 months

White Sox: no refund/exchange if game is rescheduled using original tickets; otherwise you can exchange for same or lesser value

Tigers: if the game is rescheduled for same homestand, can be used for any future game within 12 months. Otherwise the ticket must be used for the rescheduled game unless it's a straight DH

Royals: the same ticket is used for a rescheduled game, unless it's rescheduled as part of a straight DH, then check website for policy

Rangers: can exchange for any game for the existing season, dollar for dollar, subject to availability

Mets: can exchange for any game within 12 months for a ticket "comparable in price"

Nationals: ticket can be used for rescheduled game OR exchanged for the same priced ticket for the rest of the season

Marlins: can exchange for any remaining regular season game; if rainout is after 9/1, ticket can also be exchanged for tickets the following April. Also, for any game rain delayed more than 90 minutes, you can exchange your ticket for any Mon-Thurs game the remainder of the season. This was the 2010 policy; after this year the Marlins are moving into a retractable roof stadium, so they won't need a rainout policy

Braves: can exchange for tickets of same price for any remaining regular season game

Cardinals: no specific policy listed, although the Cardinals had a rainout earlier this year where they played a split DH the next day. They allowed anyone with a ticket for that game -- whether they used it or not -- to get a free ticket to any Mon-Thurs game the rest of 2011

Pirates: two rainouts already this year; ticket holders for both games are offered exchange for any Sun-Thurs game in 2011 (except 6/5 vs Phillies and 6/26 vs Red Sox)

Rockies: original ticket used for rescheduled game if part of a split DH. If the game is rescheduled as part of a straight DH, ticket can be exchanged on a value-for-value basis for any game in the current season

Dodgers: if rescheduled on open date or as part of split DH, the ticket is only good for that game. If rescheduled as a straight DH or cancelled entirely, ticket good for equal or lesser value for a "future regular season game", no year specified.

It would seem to me that, given the Cubs' long history -- more than 20 years -- of offering exchanges for future games, that would be a fair thing to do for people who simply cannot rearrange their schedules to attend a postponed game that's going to be made up months later. The Cubs tell us their own surveys show that a substantial portion of the fanbase travels to Wrigley Field from out of state, that it's become a tourist destination. The widespread scattering of posters at this website is proof that Cubs fans are all over the USA, indeed, all over the world.

It simply may not be possible for someone who's traveled in Chicago specifically to go to this game, perhaps from some distance, to come back on June 27 to go to the makeup game. For those people, an even-dollar exchange for tickets within 12 months would be fair (obviously, subject to ticket availability).

Personally, I have no skin in this game. I use all my tickets and I'll be there on June 27 (when, hopefully, it will be sunny and 85 degrees). But not everyone can do that. If the Cubs want to be a fan-friendly organization, they should offer something to people who wanted very much to see a baseball game on Wednesday, couldn't because of the weather, and can't return two months in the future.

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