The Cubs won the World Series and the demand for tickets during the 2016 season and postseason was off the charts.
Thus, the invoices that went to season-ticket holders Monday weren’t that much of a surprise. The price of winning includes higher demand for tickets and the Cubs are simply reacting to this demand by raising prices. In the email that came with my invoice, Cubs Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Colin Faulkner wrote:
Following our team’s historic World Series Championship, we enter 2017 with Cubs tickets in high demand. Fueled by the most loyal fans in baseball, our Season Ticket Holders renewed at record rates above 98 percent in 2016. Our Season Ticket Holder Waiting List stands at its largest total in years with more than 100,000 people. More than 1,200 people have joined our new Premier Client Priority List, and we received millions of registrations to purchase single game postseason tickets.
As we continue progress on our plan to field a consistently competitive team and invest the value generated in the marketplace by this demand back into our team, we have decided to adjust 2017 pricing accordingly. As a Cubs Season Ticket Holder, you will continue to pay less per game than single game ticket buyers.
I’d guess that renewal rate could be even higher in 2017, although it is also likely true that the price increases could price some people out.
The Cubs have added a sixth price tier, called “Diamond,” for three 2017 games: Opening Night vs. the Dodgers April 10, Saturday, May 6 vs. the Yankees, and Saturday, July 22 vs. the Cardinals. Here’s the entire schedule, broken down by price tier:
Unlike past years, there are no games where bleacher tickets are in a different tier than other games — every game in 2017 will have the same breakdown of pricing tiers for all seats. The per-game prices haven’t gone up all that much; the large increase in season-ticket prices (22 percent for bleachers) is accounted for by the shifting of more games into higher price tiers. In addition to the three “diamond” games, there are 19 “Marquee” games, making 22 games, more than a quarter of the home schedule, for just those two tiers. As you can see below, the per-game season-ticket prices for those tiers are, for certain types of seating, significantly higher than the tier immediately below:
You have to add 12 percent to all of those prices to get to the total that a season-ticket holder will actually pay per game. For my bleacher seat, that breaks down this way (approximately, as I don’t have the actual pricing at hand yet, this is just multiplying the base price noted above by 0.12):
The cost averaged over all 81 games for a bleacher season ticket is $51.38. In 2016, it was $42 (again approximately, as I don’t have the exact total cost handy).
As you can see by the calendar schedule, the nine “Bronze” games are all weekdays in April and May, and the “Silver” primarily late in the year, August and September, with a handful in April and May. If you want to come to the ballpark in the prime months or on weekends, it’s going to cost you -- and as noted in the email quoted above, single-game buyers will pay more (and I’m guessing, probably significantly more) for some games).
How do I feel about this? Obviously it’s a huge increase and of course I’d like to pay less for tickets, anyone would. But the Cubs won the World Series and that makes them a hot, hot ticket going forward. As I wrote above, this is the price of winning. I can live with that.