Most teams that have deals with StubHub allow sales up to two hours before game time.
A couple of years ago, the Cubs shifted that deadline to six hours before game time, which meant that if you wanted to look there for tickets to an afternoon game, you had to do it the night before or very early in the morning, because the cutoff time for a 1:20 p.m. start was 7:20 a.m.
This won’t be the case in 2017, says Danny Ecker in Chicago Business:
In a move that will help StubHub generate more ticket transactions on game days, the team is lifting a rule that cut off ticket sales on the site six hours before a game.
On top of that, the Cubs will eliminate fans' ability to scan digital tickets at Wrigley Field using any app other than StubHub's or Major League Baseball's Ballpark app.
The Cubs enacted the six-hour rule for StubHub sales several years ago when the team was awful and tickets were reselling for fractions of face value on game days. As game times would approach, resellers on StubHub would race to the bottom to unload tickets, decimating the team's ability to sell them anywhere near what they wanted to.
But the market for Cubs tickets has increased drastically after the team's World Series victory. That's why the team decided to give StubHub, its official secondary ticket market partner, a reprieve and allow sales on the site up through game time this year.
The catch, of course, is listed in the second paragraph above. Since the Cubs have also eliminated print-at-home tickets, the only way you can now get in to Wrigley Field is with:
- A season ticket
- A box-office printed ticket
- The MLB Ballpark app or StubHub app
As a result, fans who buy tickets on the secondary market from a site other than StubHub would have to have a hard copy of the ticket or arrange for the seller to forward the ticket using the MLB Ballpark app.
This is, as Ecker writes, partly an attempt to battle counterfeit tickets, something the Cubs say was a big deal during last year’s postseason. But he also says this is a way for the Cubs to exercise more control over the ticket market. Probably not coincidentally, this gives the Cubs more data on who is actually using the tickets and where the source is.
I can tell you that I saw quite a number of people using print-at-home tickets in the bleachers over the last few years. For those people, it might not be a big deal for them to use their smartphones for digital ticketing. For others, or older people who might not have smartphones, they’re likely going to have to have box-office tickets mailed to them or held at will call.
The bottom line, if you are a single-game ticket buyer: Make your plans accordingly, so you’re sure to be able to get into the ballpark after you have bought your ticket.