clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2018 Cubs attendance watch: Bobbleheads, rivalries and pricing update

Ticket sales were both up and down during the first post-All-Star homestands.

Lines for the Javier Baez bobblehead right after the gates opened on July 23
Al Yellon

Since the last update in this series, just after the All-Star break, the Cubs have had 18 home games.

Attendance has risen with the weather and the quality of the opponent. Of those 18 home games, seven drew over 41,000 and would likely be considered sellouts, or close. A few of the dates, though, had thousands of unsold seats. More on that later, but first, here’s the summary of Cubs attendance numbers so far this season.

The total of Cubs tickets sold through Wednesday is 2,379,372 for 61 dates, or 39,006 per date. The total ranks fourth in MLB, behind the Dodgers, Yankees and Cardinals, and the average ranks fifth. The Giants’ average of 39,191 is just slightly higher than the Cubs’ average to date.

This is the first time this season that I’ve noted a Cubs average attendance over 39,000. If they maintained that average for the rest of the season, this year’s total would be 3,159,486, which would be down, but just slightly, from the 3,199,562 reported for 2017.

The 20 remaining home games are as follows:

4 vs. Reds, 3 vs. Mets, 3 vs. Brewers, 3 more vs. Reds, 4 vs. Pirates, 3 vs. Cardinals

The Brewers and Cardinals games should draw well. The others, especially the Mets and Pirates series, which are on weeknights, might not. It’s possible that average goes up, especially if the Cubs approach a potential division clincher at home the last week of the season.

For more on pricing trends, as is my custom, I turn the rest of this post over to BCB reader Lifetime Cubs Fan, who has quite a bit of detail about the last couple of homestands. And charts!

If you like my charts and graphs, this post is for you. I was able to capture a little more data than normal for the home games in the second half of the season. By the end of this post, hopefully you see the following items (and many more) :

  • The Cardinals are not as big of a rivalry as you may think (or a five-game series against an opponent is too much)
  • The Washington Nationals are a rivalry
  • Desired promotions (Javier Baez bobblehead and 1979 throwback jersey) have an interesting impact to tickets
  • Sunday night baseball games do not possess as strong of an interest as you might think
  • Never buy a ticket on without checking secondary market sites first
  • With many kids now back at school, we have reached the point where weekday tickets (Monday through Thursday) should always be purchased last minute

Let’s start off with the charts you have seen for most updates. As a reminder, I will check StubHub a few times for each game prior to it being played. The prices I use are the lowest I see on StubHub, but I am confident it does not reflect the cheapest price someone could have paid for tickets on StubHub or another secondary market site. It is interesting to note, that the bleachers secondary market price closely mirrored what STH’s paid, but the Club Infield Box had a discount of about 22 percent, and the Upper Deck Box – Infield had a 42 percent discount to what season ticket holders paid.

For the home season-to-date (about 75 percent complete), any of us non-season ticket holders could have seen every game from the bleachers and paid $100 less than Al. I am sure he doesn’t mind because he can enter the gates earlier to get the same seat in the bleachers (which, for some reason, the location wreaks havoc on umbrellas) along with other season ticket holder benefits. However, if you took the same approach for Club Box Infield and Upper Deck Box - Infield, you would have paid about $2,000 less than a season ticket holder in those sections. I wonder how Crane Kenney would spin that fact to STH’s to make them feel they are getting a “tremendous value” with their season tickets.

For the first homestand after the break, the Cubs played a five-game series against the Cardinals (Thursday to Sunday, Marquee and Diamond categories) followed by four games against the Diamondbacks (Platinum). I captured, for almost every section in the park, the secondary market price about three hours before game time (about one hour before gates opened). I also captured the last posted price as well.

If those charts don’t drive you away from buying tickets on, I don’t know what will.

Then I noticed that the StubHub prices for the D-Backs series was very similar (and in many cases, higher) to what the secondary market prices were for the Cardinals. See below for the comparison.

What could explain this behavior? The answer is easier than you may think. During the D-Backs series, two desirable promotions (Javy bobblehead, and 1979 replica jerseys) were given away. Look below as to how the price behavior for those two Arizona games differed from the other two Arizona games.

For the cheaper sections, the price per ticket on StubHub was nearly double on desirable promo games compared to the other two games in the series.

Though I did not do it for all sections for the other second-half home games, I did note the StubHub price about three hours before game time for the three sections tracked this season. As you can see, the Nationals were, by far, the most desirable opponent as games were about to be played. Surprisingly, the prices for the Cardinals series were nearly identical to the prices for the Padres Series.

Why were prices cheapest for the Brewers series? Two reasons: The weather forecast for the Brewers game Wednesday was iffy, and kids are going back to school, so the family outings to Wrigley during the week are dropping off quickly. If you are going to a game Monday through Thursday from here on out, my advice is to wait as close to game time as possible to purchase tickets, I feel that will work out nicely for you (unless it is a possible clincher).

When you look at each game in the Nationals series, look at how the Sunday night game did not get the same love as the Friday or Saturday game. With Max Scherzer battling Cole Hamels on national TV, you might think this would have been the Marquee match-up of the series, but it was the cheapest ticket to get. My flight took off after the eighth inning, did anything ‘Bote-worthy,’ I mean noteworthy, happen in that game?

Ok, I believe I have reached my quota of charts for this writeup. I hope you have found it informative and enjoyable.