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2017 Cubs attendance watch: September 2017

A number of factors have made overall attendance a bit lower than in the Cubs’ World Series season last year.

Al Yellon

The Cubs passed the three million mark in home attendance on Friday and currently stand at 3,080,840 tickets sold with three home games remaining.

They’d need to have announced crowds totaling 151,581 for the three games against the Reds to pass last year’s total of 3,232,420. Given Wrigley Field’s capacity of 41,268, you can see that’s impossible. Thus this year’s total will likely wind up somewhere just under 3.2 million, which would be the fourth-highest total in Cubs history, behind 2008 (3,300,200), 2007 (3,252,462) and 2016.

Most teams set attendance records the year after they win the World Series. Given that the Cubs were about at their maximum possible average attendance, that would have been a difficult thing to do this year, and ticket pricing likely made some games that otherwise might have been sellouts (example: Sunday’s game, which had an announced crowd of 37,242) fall somewhat short of that.

Nevertheless, with higher prices for season-ticket holders (and many single games) for 2017 compared to 2016, the Cubs have likely had an increase in total ticket revenue.

As has been my practice here this year, I am going to turn over the rest of this post to BCB reader Lifetime Cubs Fan, who has some pricing data for you.

With the Cubs fighting for the division with the Brewers and the Cardinals coupled with some very pleasant weather conditions, one may assume that going to the game would be very expensive. Since my last update, there have been 23 home games. Do you want to guess how many of those games you could have purchased tickets on StubHub for less than $14 per ticket (including fees)?

A. Four games
B. Eight games
C. 13 games
D. 17 games

The correct answer is “D”, 17 games. I am shocked at how inexpensive tickets have been on the secondary market. For the Friday game against the Cardinals, you could have had a bleacher seat for $12 ($65 cheaper than what season-ticket holders paid) and Upper Deck Box infield seats for $13 ($78 cheaper than what a STH paid). The weather certainly didn’t cause it, 83 degrees and sunny in mid-September falls into an ideal weather scenario. I think it is a combination of the following:

  • The Cubs have already won the World Series, the allure of ending the 108-year drought is gone.
  • People perceive that tickets for all Cubs games are expensive and don’t even inquire to look at the secondary market (or deal with the MLB Ballpark app).
  • Some could be saving their money for the postseason.

At this point in the season, if one had chosen to purchase seats in any section solely from the secondary market for every home game, they could have paid significantly less that what a STH paid for that seat. I am confident all ticket brokers have had a huge hit to their profits this year as it relates to Cubs games.

Some of you might think that dynamic pricing is a huge cause for turning people away. In some cases, yes, but check out the comparison of the final price for the August 2016 Pirates series compared to the August 2017 Pirates series by section. Both were ‘Silver’ weekday night games series). Even though the STH price went up approximately 10 percent, the final price in 2017 averaged 20 percent less than what is was in 2016.

I have put the STH prices for the August 2016 series and August 2017 series against the Pirates below for your reference.

For the three home games remaining, demand will be driven by the games having meaning for the division or wild card. If either of those are locked up (or heaven forbid, the Cubs are eliminated from the playoffs by then), tickets will be cheaper than a movie. If the games have meaning, they will be more expensive (especially if there is a chance to see a clinching game).

I will have one more update after the regular season ends where I will summarize the season and have some perspective on what STH might expect when invoices are sent out later in the year.

Until then, Go Cubs!