This year's Attendance Watch will be a bit different than previous years.
It's pretty clear even from the first homestand that there will be many, many sellouts this season. The team had large early crowds not only from the anticipation of an excellent season, but because we had an unusual run of beautiful weather for mid-April. Though the night games this past week were cold, it wasn't unbearably cold, and the weather for the three day games was gorgeous, brilliantly sunny.
If you are new to these -- and based on some of my Twitter responses I think some are -- I make an estimate of how many people are actually inside Wrigley Field for each game, as opposed to the actual announced tickets-sold number. Having done this for several years, I think my estimates are pretty close to the actual turnstile count, perhaps within five percent.
Here are the numbers for the homestand that ended on Sunday.
Date Announced Crowd In-House Estimate 4/11 40,882 41,000 4/13 36,496 32,000 4/14 34,898 29,000 4/15 34,437 30,000 4/16 41,702 40,000 4/17 41,678 40,000
The Cubs have sold 230,293 tickets so far, or 38,382 per game. My in-house estimates total 212,000, or 35,333 per date, so the estimated no-shows are 18,293, or 3,049 per date. Only the cold weather Wednesday and Thursday kept some people away -- the other three dates had few or no empty seats. It's entirely possible that the 34,437 tickets sold for the April 15 game will be the fewest of the season.
And now, a new part of this feature, courtesy of BCB reader Lifetime Cubs Fan. He sent me some excellent detail and information about ticket sales and pricing so far this year.
I wanted to provide some observations relative to the demand the Cubs are drawing this year. It's nowhere near the euphoria of 2004, where roughly half the games sold out in the first three days they went on sale to the public. The difference between then and now is that ticket prices were less than half what they are now. But there has been a prolonged, consistent demand for tickets since they went on sale in late February. Below are some trends and perspectives as to the behavior of dynamic pricing as it pertains to bleacher tickets. (If you are a season-ticket holder in the bleachers, you will love how dynamic pricing will make your life easy if for some reason you cannot make a game.) As of Saturday, April 17, 11 of the 81 games at Wrigley this year were complete sellouts or had only standing room available, so some tickets are still available to most games. As of Saturday, April 17, 37 of the 81 games in the bleachers have sold out, while on February 27 only 17 games were sold out in the bleachers. As of Saturday, April 17, if you could buy two tickets to each game in the bleachers via cubs.com at the price listed on cubs.com, you would have paid 51 percent more than what a season-ticket holder paid. The overall average price of a bleacher ticket has increased by 10 percent since February 26 via increases in dynamic pricing. Secondary market prices have not cratered as the game approaches, In fact, in some cases this past week, they have escalated. (That is not to say you can’t get a good deal if you are diligent as the game approaches). To put things in perspective, the Saturday and Sunday games vs. the Rockies in the bleachers were more expensive, via StubHub –- both games were getting $110+ per ticket, compared to Opening Night ticket prices on StubHub (approximately $100). Think about that for a moment. If a game in April, against the Rockies, is getting that type of demand, what is it going to be like from June through August? 32 games (for bleachers) would have been cheaper to buy via Cubs.com on the 15 percent Mastercard presale date vs their current price/last price listed prior to selling out I have yet to see a situation where the dynamic price for a Cubs games decreases under any circumstance -- ever. Increases in dynamic pricing is a function of time to the game and seats available (for example, on April 11, the April 13 Reds game was $39 while the September 21 Reds game is $19 –- they are both "Bronze" games). As the season progresses, I intend to hone in on the algorithm. Below are the "best values" for bleacher seats, in my opinion (prices as of Saturday, April 16). These prices are likely to change as these games get closer: Friday, May 6: afternoon game against the Nationals, $35 (matchup of two top National League teams) Thursday, June 2: against the Dodgers, $39 (20 percent chance of seeing Clayton Kershaw) Wednesday, July 5 and Thursday, July 6 against the Reds: great promotions, middle of summer, $39 and $42 Late August series against the Pirates, $27 September series against the Reds, $19 and $18: Could be some kind of clincher (I know some of you may think the late August games against the Pirates could be the clincher based on how the Cubs have started out).
Lifetime Cubs Fan will be providing me periodic updates on this sort of thing throughout the season, about once every month. I've also created a StoryStream for all the articles this year on attendance and ticket-related matters. The Cubs have a chance to break their all-time season attendance record this season. It was set in 2008: 3,300,200 (40,743 per date).