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2016 Cubs Attendance Watch: May 5-15 Homestand

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Once again, cold and wet weather held crowds down at Wrigley Field.

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

May in Chicago, as you surely know, can have quite variable weather. For the four-game series against the Nationals May 5-8, there was one game-time temperature in the 40s, one in the 50s, one in the 60s and one in the 70s.

And then it got rainy and chilly again, and that held crowds down during the week as the Padres and Pirates came to town, likely reducing any walkup sales the Cubs might have gotten for those games if the weather had been better.

Here are the attendance figures and my in-house estimates for each of the 10 games on the just-completed homestand:

Date     Announced Crowd     In-House Estimate
5/5         37,564              30,000
5/6         39,206              39,000
5/7         40,471              33,000
5/8         41,233              41,000
5/10        34,680              25,000
5/11 (1)    34,508              17,000
5/11 (2)    37,828              30,000
5/13        37,479              34,000
5/14        40,953              38,000
5/15        40,814              37,000

You'll note an outlier there -- 17,000 estimated in the house for the day game Wednesday. This isn't surprising, as that was the makeup of Monday's rainout, with likely a lot of people unable to switch plans from attending a Monday night game to a game Wednesday at noon. The weekends, against the Nationals and Pirates, did better, partly due to better weather (though this past weekend was still pretty chilly) and partly due to the opponent.

For this homestand, the Cubs announced 384,736 tickets sold, or 38,474 per date. My in-house estimates totaled 324,000, or 32,400 per date. Thus the estimated no-show count was 60,736, or 6,074 per date. Most of the games had very few no-shows; the makeup game's low in-house estimate accounts for a large portion of the estimated no-shows.

For the season, the Cubs have sold 757,595 tickets for 20 home games, or 37,880 per date. My in-house estimates total 634,000, or 31,700 per date, or 6,180 per date, very close to what the number was for the last homestand. The no-show count is likely to drop starting with the next homestand, as schools begin to be out of session and the weather (presumably) will improve.

The Cubs' total attendance ranks sixth in the major leagues, a couple thousand behind the Red Sox, who have played two more home games. The Cubs' average ranks fifth, a few hundred behind the Yankees.

It's now very unlikely that the Cubs will break their season attendance record. To do so they would essentially have to sell out every game the rest of the year -- it would require 2,542,606 tickets to be sold for the 61 remaining home games, or 41,682 per date. Possible? Maybe. Likely? No.

Now, as promised last month, I have some ticket pricing information courtesy of BCB reader Lifetime Cubs Fan:

may 6 ticket prices

The above chart has some information I think many of you will find interesting. For bleacher seats, I took a look at the daily prices on StubHub and cubs.com for the 5/6 game against the Nationals (from late February thru 5/6). Information is visually depicted above (note: all prices include taxes and fees):

Now, here are my observations. Remember, this applies to bleacher pricing only.

This game cost season ticket holders $26.88, but if you bought a ticket from Cubs.com on 5/6, it would have cost $75.36 (180% increase to what STH paid)

StubHub prices started high, took awhile to align to Cubs.com price and then stayed in near alignment up until game time (Lesson for all -– secondary market prices might not be the cheapest at times).

Weather plays a huge factor in last minute ticket pricing for bleacher seats. As you might recall, weather for that Friday afternoon game on 5/6 was gorgeous, and the secondary market prices increased steadily as the forecast became more certain and peaked at $82 right before the StubHub cutoff. For comparison, the night game on 5/5 (a chilly evening), you could have had bleacher seats for under $20 and during the Padres series, some bleacher tickets were going for as low as $8.

I asked Al and a few of his friends to inquire about the cost of bleacher seats on the day of the 5/6 game.

At 10:45 a.m. (before the gates were open), scalpers were asking $90 per ticket (even though bleacher seats were available at the box office for ~$70). 

At 12:45 p.m. prices ranged from $60 to $100 at various locations. Why the large range?  My hypothesis is that some did not know the bleachers sold out at the box office around 12:15 p.m. and were worried about eating the tickets (vs. a likely profit) while others knew the bleachers had sold out and therefore had a scarce commodity on a picture-perfect day.

I have a few other games this year where I will be doing this observation and will share in future updates.

Here are some updates on items I included in the last writeup:

As of Sunday, May 15, six of the 20 games at Wrigley this year have been sellouts. Of the remaining 61 games, 10 are sold out (listed as "limited availability" at cubs.com). In the bleachers, 11 of the 20 games played have sold out, and 28 of the 61 remaining games are sold out.

As of 5/15, 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 67% more than what a season ticket holder paid. More interesting though, for the 20 games played thus far, if you bought the tickets at the last posted Cubs.com price, you would have paid over 110% more than what STH paid. Later in the season, I will share my thoughts on what this could mean for ticket prices in 2017.

The overall average price of a bleacher ticket has increased by another 11% since 4/17 via increases in demand based pricing.

Update on the "best value games" I identified in the attendance watch post on 4/17: If you took advantage and purchased the value games right after that writeup, you likely saved yourself some money –see below for details comparing prices from 4/17 to 5/15 (Note -- prices before fees and taxes):

5/6 – Nationals - was $35, went up to $61 (74% increase)
6/2 – Dodgers – was $39, is now $52 (33% increase)
7/5  Reds – was $39, now $54 (38% increase)
7/6  Reds – was $42, now $69 (64% increase)

The late August series against the Pirates ($27-29) and the September series against the Reds ($18-19) remained close to the price that was present on 4/17. I assure you that these will likely be higher by the next update.