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Cubs Say Season-Ticket Renewals Up From 2013

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Let's examine this claim, shall we?

David Banks

There's been a FanPost made on this topic, but as you know, this is something that interests me. (Again, if it doesn't interest you, feel free to pass by this article.)

At Crain's Chicago Business, Danny Ecker writes of the Cubs' season-ticket renewals being ahead of last year at this time:

The rate of renewal for full-season and "combo" night and weekend game plans is in the mid-80 percent range, up 5 percentage points compared with this point last off-season, said Colin Faulkner, vice president of sales and partnerships.

He would not disclose the current number of Cubs tickets sold in season-ticket packages but said the percentage increase represents "several millions of dollars" in ticket revenue.

But a source close to the team said last year that close to 25,000 tickets sold per game are part of a season-ticket package — slightly higher than the lowest paid attendance figure from last season. The Cubs say they have between 7,000 and 8,000 season-ticket account holders.

The "mid-80 percent range" isn't bad, but it's well off what happened after 2008, when, coming off two straight division titles, I heard the Cubs renewed all but four accounts (two from people who moved out of the country, and two who passed away). Granted, that was in the heyday of the Cubs' popularity over the last decade, and just before the worst of the current economic recession.

According to Ecker's article, the Cubs claim the reasons for the better renewal rate include "better customer service", and the team's recent STH sessions with Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Crane Kenney:

"We're hearing that (fans) believe in the plan and the future of where we're going," he said.

Whatever the cause, Mr. Faulkner said the Cubs had their highest season-ticket base ever in 2012 and that the current pace of renewals will get them close to that in 2014.

It remains to be seen, however, if the overall renewal rate will continue to be that high. Deposits were due about two weeks ago, but I have heard the Cubs are still emailing people who didn't put a deposit down to give them more time to decide.

I'll also quibble -- a little -- with the statement that 25,000 is "slightly higher than the lowest paid-attendance figure" from 2013. The Cubs sold fewer than 25,000 tickets three times in 2013, and the lowest was 20,696 vs. the Marlins September 4. That game was a Wednesday afternoon, so it doesn't include the combo package, which does account for the difference. The Cubs drew fewer than 30,000 18 times last season and 40,000 or more just four times, which means single-game and group sales were down.

The Cubs might do all right in season-ticket retention, but they'll have to win to get the reluctant single-game buyer back in the fold.