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Why The Cubs' StubHub Opt-Out Won't Work

The Cubs are one of three teams opting out of MLB's new contract with StubHub, apparently thinking they can get a better deal elsewhere. They're most probably wrong.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Recently, Major League Baseball re-upped with ticket reselling website StubHub on a five-year deal -- except for three teams who opted out, including the Cubs:

Though the team is still "exploring options" and has not completely ruled out joining the agreement, StubHub is proceeding as if they will not be a part of the deal, ESPN Chicago said. Though fans will still be able to buy and sell Cubs tickets on StubHub, it means that Cubs ticket holders may not be able to make full use of StubHub’s electronic transfer features, according to the report.

Will this make any difference to Cubs fans wanting to re-sell tickets? The Cubs, as noted above, haven't decided on an online resale method, the New York Yankees, one of the other teams opting out, have done so, according to the Wall Street Journal, and that has some Yankee fans upset:

A group organized by the Fan Freedom Project, including several city council members, held a small rally at City Hall Tuesday to decry a Yankee plan which they say will include price floors on resold tickets. When season ticket holders try to resell their tickets via the Yankees' new site, they will be told they can't sell them for less than a certain price, Fan Freedom president Jon Potter said. This amounts to the Yankees trying to protect their unsold, high-price inventory, Potter said.

"They don't want it known that their tickets are selling in public places for $5, for $15," Potter said. "And if you're a season-ticket holder, you might realize, 'Why am I buying season tickets?'

The Yankees fire back that this is a business issue—about StubHub feeling angry that it will have competition. And they charge that this is no grass-roots effort, noting that Fan Freedom gets much of its funding from StubHub.

Will a price floor really stop Yankee fans from reselling on StubHub, though? This Deadspin article sums up the answer:

In all likelihood, this plan will not work out very well for the Yankees. For one, nothing can prevent ticket holders from selling their tickets on StubHub anyway, they will just be directed by the team to use Ticketmaster. Even if sellers do follow instructions and use Ticketmaster, the price floor is likely to alienate buyers and lead to a lot of fans passing on tickets all together.

And that, I think, sums up the Cubs' dilemma perfectly. Obviously, the Cubs weren't happy with tickets selling for a few pennies at the end of the 2012 season. Their decision to opt out of the StubHub deal -- and perhaps match what the Yankees have done by setting a price floor for sale, on whatever site they sign up with -- is designed to eliminate that possibility. But would fans really do that, if tickets aren't selling at the "floor" price? Or would they just go to StubHub anyway, even if it's a bit more difficult without the team being part of MLB's deal?

I think the answer to that is pretty obvious.