For the first time in four years, ticket prices at Wrigley Field will be higher than in the previous season. First, the general details from Danny Ecker at Chicago Business:
The team is sending season-ticket renewal invoices to fans today, roughly a month earlier than usual. The invoices show that 80 percent of tickets will have no change or will drop slightly in price. About 20 percent of tickets in prime seating areas — like the club box infield, field box infield and the lower part of the terrace reserve infield — will see an average increase of 6 percent. The result will be an overall increase among all season-ticket prices of just less than 2 percent. The Cubs had the third-highest average ticket price in baseball this season, at $44.16, according to Chicago-based Team Marketing Report. The average price of admission at Wrigley Field had dropped 16 percent since 2010.
Now, here's what I can tell you specifically about ticket pricing. This is the 2015 ticket pricing chart (click to embiggen):
Here's the 2015 "Combo Plan" (weekend and night games, 62 games) price chart:
And for those who still have the old "Double Play" plan (you can't get this any more, but those who do are grandfathered into this 19-game plan):
For comparisons, here's the 2014 full-season chart:
And, just for further comparison, from 2013:
As you can see, the 2014 bleacher season ticket cost $3,068.80 ($2,740 actual ticket price plus $328.80 for the 12 percent amusement tax); the 2015 bleacher season ticket will cost $3,066.56 ($2,738 actual ticket price plus $328.56 for the 12 percent amusement tax).
Savings for the bleacher season-ticket holder: $2.24, enough to buy about 40 percent of a hot dog.
Immediate reaction, without a schedule until next week and not knowing exactly how these prices are broken down: that's about right. I would have been happier, of course, with a price reduction but the team is obviously thinking they're going to be better in 2015 and these prices are sustainable. There are still going to be five pricing tiers, but on average this means a bleacher ticket will cost approximately $38 per game (if you were, as I am, going to all the games).
Your mileage may vary, as they say; other sections of the ballpark, as reported by Ecker, will have some increases, or not, as shown in the charts above. Bleacher tickets are among the 80 percent that have, essentially, no change. This will likely result in a high renewal rate among bleacher season-ticket holders. For other season-ticket holders, if their tickets have gone up, they'll have a choice to make.
The Cubs are offering installment payments for season tickets (four installments); I have heard they have informally offered this sort of thing in the past, now they're doing so formally. They're also trying to promote the fact that there is now an "extra" month in between the down payment and final payment, but this, in my view, is somewhat disingenuous. The Cubs surveyed season-ticket holders and got an overwhelming response that people wanted more time in between the down payment and final payment due dates -- but it wasn't that people wanted to pay the 10 percent earlier, it was that they wanted to make the final payment later! The installment plan might help, I presume, although the full payment is still due by January 13, and if you use the installment plan, you have to pay 25 percent on October 13 (instead of 10 percent), and then 25 percent each month after that through January.
They're doing all-online seat relocation this offseason due to the Wrigley construction. Presuming they have 3-D views from the seats on the online page, this should work just fine, and you won't have to stand out in the cold to view your seat, as people had to do last December.
The Cubs are also hosting another event with Theo Epstein and Crane Kenney at the Oriental Theater downtown, for season-ticket holders, on October 10 and 11. Mostly, this is a pep rally to encourage ticket renewals. I'll certainly go and report from there.
Vote in the poll below; I'm interested to hear specifically about season-ticket choices you might make, whether you're a current season-ticket holder, someone who might want to be, or even if you'd never buy season tickets.