Before I get into the details of “Exhibit A”, a little bit about myself - I have always been a true Cubs
Fan and always will be. I have attended hundreds of games and watched thousands more on TV. I was a season ticket holder for over 10 years but I did not renew this year because, frankly, I think the Cubs organization is in denial as to the quality of the product they are offering relative to the cost to fans to see a game at Wrigley. I will share some details (facts) that justify my position, but more importantly have solutions that can easily improve the situation. It is good to see that others are thinking with their wallets vs. hearts as it relates to the Cubs and hopefully the Cubs get the message.
The facts - The Cubs are not selling individual game tickets to ALL games
o Opening Day still has plenty of seats available
o There is not a single game sold out (or where only single seats are available) Without the Cubs starting out 17-4 or being within a few games of a playoff spot in June, this will likely not improve
o After the first day of ticket sales over 85% of bleacher seats remained unsold. Before the Cubs took away the “GA ticket numbers” from the cubs.com site last week, there were still well over 80% of bleacher seats available (and the 9/4/13 game against the Marlins
had only sold ~100 bleacher seats). Put another way there are still ~300,000 bleacher seats available
o Bleacher seat tickets for Opening Day sold on Stubhub have gone from over $100 a ticket a month ago to $55 - $67 in the last few days (and are still falling). I have tracked the behavior of Stubhub each day the last few weeks, it is amazing how quickly prices have dropped since the “Tickets still available for Opening day” email came out last week
- Cubs Tickets are easily 15% overpriced in the bowl and 20% in the bleachers. Whoever modeled the ticket prices for the Cubs will not be doing it next year. I see a dropoff in paid attendance of ~10%. If ticket prices would have been just 10% less across the board, paid attendance would have remained similar to last year (plus all the revenue associated with food and souvenirs). Instead they drank the koolaid and thought the 116k STH waitlist would swoop in…. Just one example to give greater perspective, on 4/21, I am taking my family of five to see the Tigers
play the Angels
in Anaheim on a Sunday for $32 after fees (no typo, that is $6.40 a ticket from the Angels website to see 2 playoff caliber teams in beautiful weather). Let’s compare that to how much it would cost me to see the SF Giants
play the Cubs on Sun 4/14 for comparable seats ($102.70 for one playoff caliber team in poorer weather conditions)
- The Cubs did not align games to the pricing tiers correctly. IMO, There are only 2 marquee games this year (Opening Day and Sat. game against STL in July) and the number of bronze games should be ~20 for Bowl and ~28 for Bleachers. (Note: Better allocation could have been done in lieu of ticket price reduction)
- Wrigley Field is beautiful, and an experience in and of itself, but let’s face it, amenities and food are near/at the bottom in MLB (The planned renovation will address this, but it is a problem when the team on the field isn’t winning)
- Dynamic Pricing for a team not expected to do much is a deterrent to buy tickets. If I wanted to buy bleacher tickets from Cubs.com to the Sat. July game against STL and take my family of five, it would cost me $550 thanks to dynamic pricing.
- The quality of the team is sub par for the 3rd year in a row. This should have been the year to throw Cubs fans a bone and reduce ticket prices in appreciation for their patience. What would have John McDonough done if he was still with the Cubs? Let's face it, the Cubs are no longer the “prettiest girl in school” when it comes professional Chicago teams. April, May, June(hopefully) and September, the city will have more focus on the Bulls, Hawks, and Bears.
- 2.5M in paid attendance, 1.9M in actual butts in seats (I will see how true this becomes based on Al’s attendance watch)
- Paid attendance for some games will be below 24k
- Not a single game will Stubhub sell bleacher tickets above face value within 3 days of the game
- Give Season Ticket Holders a bigger per ticket discount (go from $1-2 per ticket to $2-$8). This will enable the Cubs to have some “bundled” ticket promotions without alienating STH’s
- Create 3 new price tiers (i.e. UD – Reserved Value, UD Box – Value, Terr Reserved Value). Make sections 403, 503, 438, 538, and parts of 242,243, 203,204 about 30% cheaper than what they are now. I am talking about 1000 seats (2.5% of capacity) that would appeal to families on a budget. If it was in place today, most of these seats would be purchased vs the small percentage purchased as of now)
- Charge people $100 - $200 to put their name on the STH waitlist. Offer them an opportunity to buy individual game tickets before general public (i.e. the day between MC pre-sale and sale date for general public). To a true Cubs fans, there is value in being able to jump the gun and get tickets before the general public. This would whittle away all the looky-lou’s who have their name on the list but have no intention to buy season tickets and provide a more accurate picture of demand.
- Offer people on Waiting list all three STH options (Daily, Nights and Weekends, Double Play) vs only the Daily Plan. Most, if not all MLB teams have multiple options. You could make the ticket discount larger for Daily plan vs Night and Weekends or Double Play
- Offer Bundled ticket options (i.e. for $22 per person (in quantities from 3-12) get a Upper Deck Reserve - Outfield ticket, hot dog, soda and one program for the group). This will be hard to do in 2013 without alienating STH’s
- Include the 12% city of Chicago amusement tax in the cost printed on the ticket and what is displayed on the website. I can’t tell you how confusing it was explaining the cost of tickets to friends and families and I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to be on Cubs.com see a ticket for $13 turn in $21 after taxes and fees
- Renovate the Stadium – keep it beautiful for generations to come
Not all of these solutions will come true, but I am hopeful at this point next year there will be some that I can say “I told you so”
Curious to everyone’s thoughts.
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