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2016 Cubs Attendance Watch: July 15-20 Homestand

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More sellouts, and examining ticket price trends.

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

Finally, good summer weather hit Wrigley Field in the just-completed homestand. There were no rain interruptions (one storm that hit the area Sunday cleared out well before game time) and conditions were pleasant for most of these dates (if a bit hot and sticky on Wednesday).

The Cubs sold out all six games against the Rangers and Mets:

Date     Announced Crowd     In-House Estimate
7/15        41,482              39,000
7/16        41,346              41,500
7/17        41,213              41,000
7/18        41,353              41,000
7/19        41,456              41,000
7/20        41,210              41,000

A few empty seats spotted last Friday meant my total of in-house estimates was 244,500 for the homestand, or 40,750 per date. The total number of tickets sold was 248,060. Thus the estimated no-show count was 3,560 for the entire homestand, or 593 per date, a negligible number that can probably be accounted for by season tickets not being used, or StubHub or other secondary market tickets not selling.

For the season, the Cubs have now sold 1,811,729 tickets, or 39,385 per date. If they maintain that average (and it's likely to go up some between now and Labor Day), they will sell 3,190,218 tickets, within range of the second-highest season total in franchise history (3,252,462, in 2007).

My in-house estimates now total 1,646,500, or 35,793 per date. The average here will likely go up significantly before this season ends.

The Cubs' total tickets sold figure ranks seventh in MLB, but the Cubs still have fewer home games than some of the teams above them. That shows in their ranking in average attendance: fourth, behind only the Giants, Cardinals and Dodgers. The Giants are third with 41,588 tickets sold per game, so the Cubs won't be able to catch them.

As I have been throughout this season, I turn the rest of this post over to BCB reader Lifetime Cubs Fan, who has been researching various pricing trends.

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I know much of my focus on pricing trends has been on the bleachers. Since this homestand had the making of six sellouts, I wanted to answer the following questions:

  1. Are all sections behaving similarly on the secondary market?

  2. During the summer, how much influence does the game category have on secondary market prices and the final cubs.com prices

My methodology for gathering the data was as follows (Note: all prices are reflective of taxes and fees):

  • STH costs -- price paid by season-ticket holders

  • Stubhub costs -- I took the lowest cost of 2 seats together in a section (unobstructed view) at 48 hours before gametime and 18 to 24 hours before game time and averaged them to reflect the game time secondary market behavior. Is this approach perfect? No, but it is directionally accurate

  • Final cubs.com price posted on the day of the game

Question 1: Are all sections behaving similarly on the secondary market? The simple answer is no, there is a wide variance when looking at all sections. Check out the chart below.

ticket chart #1 7/21/16

As you can see, increases for Cubs.com pricing ranged from 32% (Upper Deck Box Infield) to 117% (Bleachers). For Stubhub, the increases had a wider range from 8% (Upper Deck Box Infield) to 131% (Upper Deck Reserved Outfield).

I then wanted to see the average secondary market price for all sections, this is where it got more interesting. See below for the average secondary market prices by section. If you look at the lightly red shaded box, you see that eight sections in the ballpark were within a $15 range. I, and likely many of you, have sat in each of these sections at some point and the variance in seat quality/game experience is significant. I can assure you there is a vast difference (much more than $10) between Upper Deck Box Infield and Upper Deck Reserved Infield. Upper Deck Box infield seats are approximately two inches wider than Upper Deck Reserved seats, and there are no posts and no overhangs restricting your views. This behavior depicts that many fans are more interested in the cheapest means to get into the game vs the quality of the seat. (Hence, people paying 131% premium for upper deck reserved outfield compared to what season ticket holders paid this homestand.) My recommendation for you: if you see an upper deck box infield seat (that is not row 10) that is $5-15 more expensive that the lowest upper deck reserved seat, buy it.

I am curious to hear how STH reading this post who sold tickets for this homestand fared relative to what I have shared.

ticket chart #2 7/21/16

Question 2: During the summer, how much influence does the game category have on secondary market prices and the final cubs.com prices?

For the secondary market, day of game, pitching matchups, and weather continue to influence the ‘near game-time price behavior' (game category also plays a part). Al noted that on Saturday before gates opened, bleacher seats were quoted from $100 to 200 per ticket, which was not surprising given the game was played on a Saturday with a top-tier pitcher on a good team, on a pleasant afternoon.

ticket chart #3 7/21/16

For the final cubs.com price, the variance was MUCH tighter. When you look at the top row of price distribution on the whisker and box chart below, you see that some sections had very little variance in cubs.com price even though games in the gold, platinum and marquee categories occurred on this homestand. I have also included the distribution for STH costs and StubHub costs for reference.

ticket chart #4 7/21/16

I am still collecting lots of data and will continue with updates as the season progresses. Please let me know if you have some requests that I can research.