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A few more thoughts about Cubs season tickets, and fans in ballparks in 2021

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Going to games in 2021 is not a given.

Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday, I posted BCB reader Lifetime Cubs Fan’s analysis of season-ticket pricing for 2021.

Usually, that’s enough to get us by on ticket stories until single-game sales begin, but there’s another factor for next year that has to be considered, and that is: Whether fans are going to get into Wrigley Field at all.

The Cubs are reportedly working on multiple contingency plans regarding having fans in the ballpark next year, determining how many is safe, whether anyone other than season-ticket holders will be allowed in, along with many other factors given that we are likely still not going to have a COVID-19 vaccine by Opening Day next April.

Before that, though, Major League Baseball is doing a “test run” of sorts by selling tickets to the NLCS and World Series this year. Both of those series will be played at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, where some restrictions on sports crowds have been lifted.

This is what MLB says about that:

“We have proceeded cautiously in this area,” a league spokesperson said. “We are prioritizing the health and safety of everyone involved while still trying to, gradually and safely, move in the direction of more normal operations as the circumstances allow. There is interest from fans, support from state and local authorities, and a series of protocols in place to provide protection to fans who are comfortable with the situation. With no certainty as to if or how the virus will be eradicated, our view is that we need to explore how we can continue to operate safely in the context of the current environment.”

I suppose that’s reasonable, up to a point, but Dr. Zachary Binney, an epidemiologist who has followed the pandemic closely as it applies to sports leagues, disagrees:

“I simply disagree with the risk-benefit balance here,” Binney said by email. “Also, ‘eradication’ — which has happened once in history, with smallpox — is not our goal, and it’s a strawman to suggest that. But getting transmission down to much lower levels as seen in many European and Asian countries before allowing fans back is a very achievable goal. Instead, we seem to want to welcome fans back without doing the work to make it safe, and forgive me but I for one don’t believe in getting your dessert even when you refuse to eat your vegetables.

“MLB knows how it can operate safely — it proved that with the latter 2/3 of this season. What they want now is additional revenue, not to just ‘operate.’ I don’t personally feel that’s a good reason for the community to be asked to take on this risk.”

Of course, it’s about money, and to a certain extent I get that. MLB says it lost 40 percent of total revenues in 2020 with having no fans in ballparks. That’s a loss of about $4 billion, and yes, that’s a lot of money. (Of course, they covered some or all of that loss by paying players only 37 percent of their salaries by playing only 37 percent of a normal season.)

Personally, I am renewing my Wrigley season tickets. They were already paid for, as I had paid for 2020 season tickets and let the Cubs keep the money in return for 5 percent interest, which is a pretty good deal — where else can you earn 5 percent on your money these days? I’ll also renew my Spring Training season tickets, though there is also no guarantee we will be able to attend games at Sloan Park. For Spring Training, the Cubs said in the email that accompanied invoices:

While we cannot predict what is to come in the months ahead, we can guarantee you this: We will be thorough in our planning, timely in our communication and prompt in executing our ticketing policies. For the 2021 Spring Training season, if games in your season ticket plan are impacted due to COVID-19 (i.e., canceled, postponed or have restricted capacity that prevents the use of your specific seats), you’ll have the option to receive a credit or refund for the impacted games through the Cubs Guarantee.

They said essentially the same thing for Wrigley season-ticket holders.

I do eventually want to go back to baseball games, but personally I don’t think it will be safe to do so until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine and it’s entirely possible no fans will be in Wrigley Field until mid-season, or even later. (Bonus if that happens: No one has to sit there when it’s 40 degrees and drizzling.) If fans aren’t allowed at games in 2021, we will again be offered refunds or credits.

With that, I want to ask you two questions. First, about your status as a season-ticket holder (or not), and how you feel about buying season tickets (or tickets in general) in 2021. Second, how you feel about going to games at all if the pandemic is still happening next year.

If you are reading this story via Google AMP or Apple News, you will have to open it in a mobile browser to see the polls.

Poll

Regarding buying Cubs tickets in 2021...

This poll is closed

  • 37%
    I am a season-ticket holder and will be renewing for 2021
    (88 votes)
  • 6%
    I am a season-ticket holder and will not be renewing for 2021
    (14 votes)
  • 5%
    I am on the season-ticket waiting list and will buy season tickets if called
    (12 votes)
  • 7%
    I am on the season-ticket waiting list and will not buy season tickets if called
    (17 votes)
  • 17%
    I have bought single-game tickets (or a ticket pack) in the past and will buy them again in 2021
    (41 votes)
  • 17%
    I have bought single-game tickets (or a ticket pack) in the past and will not buy them again in 2021
    (40 votes)
  • 0%
    I have not bought single-game tickets (or a ticket pack) in the past but might consider buying them again in 2021
    (2 votes)
  • 5%
    I have not bought single-game tickets (or a ticket pack) in the past and will not buy them in 2021
    (12 votes)
  • 3%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (7 votes)
233 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Regarding attending Cubs games (or any professional or college sports event) in 2021...

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    I will go back as soon as fans are allowed, no matter how many fans are permitted
    (69 votes)
  • 23%
    I will go back when fans are allowed, but only if capacities are limited and masks and social distancing is enforced
    (60 votes)
  • 46%
    I will go back only if and when a COVID-19 vaccine is available and proven effective
    (119 votes)
  • 3%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (8 votes)
256 votes total Vote Now