Over the last couple of seasons, BCB reader Lifetime Cubs Fan has shared with us his analysis of ticket pricing trends for both season tickets and individual game tickets. Today, I turn over this entire post to him for a detailed analysis of the season ticket pricing tiers for 2019 that were sent out to Cubs season-ticket holders last week.
As Al shared last week, the Cubs sent ticket invoices to current season ticket holders. For some of you, no matter what the circumstance, you will renew. However, for many of you, the Cubs season ticket invoice might be the second largest expense you experience each year (behind housing). As a result, you likely ask yourself: Do they provide the value to justify the cost?
Let’s look at the pros and cons of being a season ticket holder
- Rights to purchase playoff tickets at face value
- Known quality of seat / same seat for each game attended
- Knowing you can attend any game you wish to attend
- Early admission (Bleacher Season Ticket Holder)
- Rights to purchase concert tickets before public
- Ability to sell World Series tickets at a significant profit
You might be surprised that I omitted the following:
- Selling regular season tickets on secondary market for a premium, therefore subsidizing the cost of games you attend (current STH prices for all sections, all pricing tiers, are nearly scalper-proof, and my pricing observations over the past few years confirm this)
- Selling NLDS and NLCS tickets on secondary market for a premium (the pent-up demand in 2015 and 2016 has subsided the last few years)
- Friends lining up begging you for any tickets you can’t use
- Nice paper season tickets (if you want them, you will pay for them in 2019)
- Slight discount to what single game ticket prices / no cubs.com fees (almost every game is cheaper on the secondary market these days for almost every section)
- Family Day (it will now be in November, not the same as in the summer)
- You need to spend time and energy to sell tickets to games you can’t attend. Certain sections commonly sell below the price you paid (especially after factoring ticket fees)
- Certain games might go unsold
- Total invoice is due by January 23, 2019. If you have not been diligent in saving money each month, you will only have a few months to come up with thousands of dollars
- Mobile-only tickets will be an inconvenience for less technically savvy individuals
- You might need to forgo allocating the money to other important matters (paying off debt, saving for kids’ college, etc.)
With the Cubs winning the World Series in 2016, the allure of attending games during the year the Cubs end the World Series drought is gone. The only remaining ‘holy grail’ at this point is being in attendance when the Cubs win a World Series at Wrigley Field. Is it worth it to pay for an entire season of games for the approximately 5 percent chance of the Cubs winning it all at home next year? (That’s derived from taking 10 to 1 Vegas odds for Cubs winning the World Series, with an approximate 50 percent chance of it being done at home).
If you are a season ticket holder, do as you see fit when making your decision to renew or not renew your tickets. However, based on what I have observed the past few years, I believe it is a MYTH that season tickets will be a great value in 2019. If I were faced with the decision, here is what I would do:
- I would not renew the season tickets (let someone else catch the falling knife)
- I would take the proceeds from unused playoff tickets in 2018 and create my Cubs “slush funds”
- I would allocate 50 percent of the funds to “World Series clincher at Wrigley Field slush fund”
- The other 50% would go to regular season slush fund (some games purchased last minute at deep discounts, or treat myself to a game in a great seat from time to time)
- Each month, I would put $40 in each fund ($960 per year)
(Note: When I did not renew for the 2012 season, I followed a similar approach highlighted above. I have over $3,500 in the “World Series clincher at Wrigley fund” at this point)
Some of you might get an email from the Cubs to sign up for season tickets this winter. If that’s the case, below is my opinion for the best sections and worst sections to sign up for from an overall “Value” perspective.
- Bleachers – Since seats are unassigned, it is a common mechanism for groups to acquire tickets. They are very popular in warm, summer months (good secondary market demand amongst tourists and twenty-somethings). Note: April games could go unsold (but that is common for many sections)
- Club Box Outfield – in some instances, you could be about 40 feet closer to the action compared to someone in the bleachers, but you are paying 140 percent more for your seat (and, for many seats in the section, you have to look sharply to one side to see home plate)
- Upper Deck Box – Infield – The seats themselves are great, but they have very little secondary market interest as the Upper Deck Reserved infield seats are less than half the price though they are only a few rows back.
No post of mine would be complete without some charts and graphs!
The first is the price per seat by section for 2019. It speaks for itself that the cheapest seat averages about $30 a game.
The second visual is the increase of ticket prices since 2015 by section. As you can see, the most expensive tickets have seen the highest percentage increase and the increases have varied widely across sections.
The last one, is my “value” heatmap by section by price tier for 2019. If you can bear the potential of cold, April weather, some Bronze games could offer a Wrigley experience from great seats at a reasonable price.
As always, I am interested to hear what people are thinking.
Regarding season tickets...
This poll is closed
I have season tickets and will renew with no doubt or hesitation
I have season tickets and will think longer and harder about renewal than in any previous year
I have season tickets and will renew but only if I can downgrade to a cheaper section or split with new partners
I have season tickets now and will not renew for 2019
I am on the waiting list and will buy a full season package if I am called
I am on the waiting list and will buy season tickets depending on what section(s) are available
I am on the waiting list and will buy only if I can get a partial plan or split with partners
I am on the waiting list and will not buy season tickets for 2019 if called
I do not have season tickets, am not on the waiting list, and would not buy season tickets under any circumstances
Other (leave in comments)