SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- On Monday, I received an email from the Cubs notifying me that "limited" Opening Day tickets were still available. Perhaps you, too, received this email.
The email prompted Ed Nickow of Chicago Sports in Haiku to investigate. His post, made at midday Monday, said that he was able to call up 18 seats together in the Field Boxes, in row 1 of section 129 (and 130, because of the "aisle" seating system used at Wrigley instead of the "section" system used just about everywhere else), a nice location behind the visitors' dugout.
Nearly a day later, I wondered what I'd get if I asked the system for the same number of tickets. I think you can guess where I'm heading here. The ticketing system came up with the same 18 seats Ed had called up Monday. (Obviously, I'm not buying those. If you want 'em, they're back in the system.)
I also looked at bleacher tickets for Opening Day. There appear to be several hundred remaining, based on the bleacher ticket sequence numbers I pulled up through the ticketing system.
Mostly unscientific conclusion drawn: ticket sales for Opening Day have ground to a complete halt, less than two weeks before the game, and the Cubs could wind up several thousand short of a sellout.
As far as I can tell, the last time the Cubs did not sell out a home opener was in 1997, when 35,393 attended the April 8 home opener on a brutally cold day (29 degrees, wind chill of 1). That was during a low period for the franchise -- seven straight years with no postseason, and with baseball still reeling from the aftereffects of the 1994-95 labor dispute.
Unless the Cubs get off to an unexpected hot start this year and generate some buzz in the city, there will be many dates with many thousands of unsold and empty seats.