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2016 Cubs Attendance Watch: August 9-18 Homestand

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The Cubs continued to fill Wrigley Field as good weather and a winning team brought many people to the park.

Wrigley Field's bleachers on Sunday, August 14
Wrigley Field's bleachers on Sunday, August 14
Al Yellon

Here are the numbers for the just-completed homestand:

Date     Announced Crowd     In-House Estimate
8/9         41,227              41,000
8/10        41,015              40,500
8/11        40,597              41,000
8/12        40,848              39,000
8/13        41,278              40,000
8/14        41,019              41,000
8/16 (1)    41,148              36,000
8/16 (2)    39,420              39,000
8/17        40,310              38,000
8/18        41,407              40,000

For the homestand, the Cubs announced 408,269 tickets sold, or 40,827 per date. My in-house estimates for the 10-game homestand totaled 395,500, or 39,550 per date, so the estimated total of no-shows for the homestand was 12,769, or 1,277 per date, a negligible number that can be mostly attributed to a few season-ticket holders not showing up, a few unsold tickets on StubHub, and the larger number for Game 1 of the doubleheader Tuesday, a makeup for a rained-out night game played during the day, an event some people might not have been able to attend.

For the season, the Cubs have now sold 2,548,128 tickets for 64 dates, or 39,815 per date. That's up from the last post in this series, but not by much, only a couple of hundred, and with schools back in session, upcoming weeknight games might draw slightly fewer fans than midsummer dates. My in-house estimates for the season now total 2,365,000, or 36,953 per date. That means an estimated no-show count of 2,863 per date for the entire season, which is remarkably low.

The Cubs' season attendance total now ranks third in MLB, about 70,000 behind the Cardinals, though the Cardinals have three fewer home dates. The Cubs' average ranks fifth, about 1,000 per game behind the Blue Jays and about 1,000 per game ahead of the Mets.

If the Cubs maintain the 39,815 average for the remaining 17 home dates, they will sell 676,815 more tickets, which would make the season total 3,224,983, which would be just short of second in Cubs history.

As I have been doing throughout this season, I turn the rest of this post over to BCB reader Lifetime Cubs Fan, who has some information on bleacher ticket pricing.

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Prior to getting to the meat of this writeup, I want to provide a quick update on demand based pricing increases by section through the 8/18 game against the Brewers:

bleacher pricing chart #1

As you can see, Upper Deck Box seats have the smallest fluctuation. When taking a peak at the Saturday game (8/13) against the Cardinals, three of the four cheapest seats offered on Stubhub (non-SRO) the night before the game were Upper Deck Box seats (Midfield). That. Should. Never. Happen. IMO, there are approximately 10,000 seats in Wrigley that are worse than the worst Upper Deck Midfield seat. Oh well, on to the good stuff…….

Last season, I observed that many tickets for many games were cheaper on the secondary market when compared to the cubs.com price. Going into this season, I wanted to answer a few questions:

  • Will demand-based pricing have an adverse effect on overall attendance due to a ‘substitution effect’ of getting tickets cheaper from another source?
  • What is the extra revenue generated as a result of the demand-based pricing?

It would have been easy to get these answers if I worked in the Cubs IT or Stubhub IT department, but I don’t. However, many of my colleagues say I can measure anything, and using the resources publicly available to me (cubs.com and Stubhub primarily), I could get a perspective to answer the questions below. (I won’t get into the details or bore you as to exactly how I got all the information, but it is a combination of brute force, and resourcefulness of using what information is available).

I set out to observe Bleachers demand pricing behavior for games in each category (Bronze through Marquee) to see if there are differences in how they behaved (the short answer is yes). If you are wondering why I chose the bleachers, it is because it is a section that has a large number of available seats, and given they are general admission, there is a sense that the last seat bought could still be perceived as good as the first seat bought.

I captured price points as more bleacher seats were sold. There are approximately 5,500 seats in the bleachers, of which an estimated 750 are a part of a daily season ticket program and an estimated 750 are a part of nights and weekends season ticket package (even if we are far off on the tickets per Season Ticket package, it has very little impact on the final observations).

Below, the behavior of price to tickets sold of three games are depicted (5/6 against the Nationals, 6/22 against the Cardinals and 7/27 against the White Sox).

bleacher pricing chart #2

bleacher pricing chart #3

bleacher pricing chart #4

bleacher pricing chart #5

As you can see, there is some variability, and for all of these games, every seat in the bleacher was sold out, so demand pricing had no adverse effect on bleacher attendance for these three games, just financial benefit for the Cubs. As you can see for the three games below, the demand based pricing (combined with presale premiums) increased ticket revenue (estimated) in the bleachers as follows:

  • 5/6 – About $26,000 in extra ticket revenue generated
  • 6/22 – About $65,000 in extra ticket revenue generated
  • 7/27 – About $78,000 in extra ticket revenue generated

I then took the final posted Cubs.com bleacher price, compared it to the STH price and created a scattergraph with trend lines for the absolute price increase by game category (depicted below). In my opinion, the Cubs did not get too aggressive in demand-based pricing increases as none of the lower attendance games had significant increases that may have deterred people from going. (Let’s face it, a weeknight game in April against the Brewers, with no promotion, is not going to have a high demand.)

bleacher pricing chart #6

I then used this information to create a "factor" for every game this season (Since most every game remaining this year has few or no bleacher seats available, I have applied a factor for those games as well.) I have charted the increased revenue by opponent below (keep in mind, some opponents were played twice, while others faced the Cubs up to 10 times).

bleacher pricing chart #7

As a result of all this effort, in my opinion, the demand based pricing in the bleachers has provided approximately $3.25 million in additional revenue for the Cubs this year (with an error range of +/- 25% given my brute-force/resourceful approach). I also believe that this represents between 25% and 50% of all additional revenue generated for the Cubs via demand based pricing. If we took the midpoint of this range (37.5%) then the Cubs will have generated an extra $8.67 million, or to put it in a different perspective, the money necessary to pay the salaries of the following Cubs in 2016: Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Javier Baez, Kyle Hendricks, Matt Szczur, and Willson Contreras, with a little money left over to hopefully get some shorts, or pants, for Clark…

I will have a few more updates between now and the end of the season. My next update will have predictions for what one could expect to happen to ticket prices this offseason.

As always, let me know if there is some information you may be interested in – I just might have the data!