Tuesday, the Cubs sent out 2022 season ticket invoices with small decreases in pricing in most sections of the ballpark.
I posted this information here yesterday and today, I have some further comments from BCBer Lifetime Cubs Fan, who has done ticket pricing analysis here for several years. Without further ado, here’s his analysis of how the Cubs have priced season tickets and approached current STH for renewals. All opinions expressed below are his, not mine.
As Al indicated, invoices were sent out this week to existing season ticket holders. As expected, the Cubs did very little differently from previous years. Though Cubs management might feel they have acknowledged the current status of the team by reducing invoice pricing in an inflationary economy, many Cubs STH will likely feel the reductions aren’t large enough.
What would an article from me be without a fancy chart? Here are the price decreases from 2021 to 2022, by section:
About a month ago, I outlined 10 actions the Cubs could take to help retain season ticket holders. Here I will grade the Cubs on each of my proposed actions.
1. Lower invoices by 15-20 percent. Grade: D-. Based on analysis, the Cubs lowered invoices by just a few percent for 2022, and didn’t change the pricing tiers much. For example, having only 5 Bronze games is unacceptable. Below is a chart for average price per ticket by section for 2022. Interestingly enough, the Club Box Home Plate tickets are priced competitively for what I have seen at some other parks for similar seats.
2. Make Season Ticket holders feel appreciated. Grade: D-. The only new perk/opportunity for STH is to be included in a Field of Dreams lottery. It would have been so easy for the Cubs to incorporate season ticket holder tenure into this process (as well as do other things to make them feel appreciated). Note: The STH invoice letter had no acknowledgement of tenure, doing so would have been a nice nod to the STH.
3. Make significant free agent signings prior to the invoice renewal date (11/18/2021). Grade: Incomplete. The Cubs are going to only have about two weeks to sign free agents, from the beginning of free agency to the renewal date. I see a significant risk this won’t be done (especially considering the status of the CBA).
4. Give incentives to pay invoices early and/or invoice paid in full. Grade: F. Not offered.
5. Don’t send invoices shortly after the season concludes. Grade: D+. I think sending invoices at this time is poor timing. After the World Series was completed would have been much better. However, the Cubs will need to give themselves time to work through the Season Ticket holder waitlist when droves don’t renew — because who wants to buy a shiny new car (Wrigley Field) when you have no idea what type of engine and features are within the vehicle (the team)? Answer: Hardly anyone.
6. Spread invoice payments out. Grade: D-. Two payments, 20 percent due by November 18, the remainder due by January 19. Reminder, folks, there is a real possibility there is a work stoppage next year. However, your hard-earned money will be in the Cubs’ hands if it happens.
7. Improve the Season Ticket Holder Exchange process. Grade: Incomplete
8. Provide an opportunity to downgrade seats (section and/or games). Grade: Incomplete. I will be interested to hear about season-ticket holders’ experience if they attempt to do this
9. Provide a worthwhile gift to upgrade. Grade: Incomplete, but likely an “F”. Nothing about this is mentioned in the invoice letter.
10. For low attendance games, upgrade STH to better sections close to game time. Grade: Incomplete. I do not recommend holding your breath until this happens.
The Cubs have once again shown little or no acknowledgement of the current situation. The short answer is that many individual STH are going to leave. My guess is that for season tickets not tied to a business or used extensively for clients, renewal rates are going to be in the 50 to 60 percent range. That equates to a few thousand accounts not renewing! Don’t be surprised next year when announced attendance for many games in April and September is in the low 20,000s range. It will be a sign that the Cubs could not backfill all the STH they lost.
My advice to individual STH who are on the fence to renew:
- Don’t renew
- Put aside 15 percent of your invoice between now and the start of the 2022 season
- Go to as many games as possible, likely buying tickets on secondary market for less than what you would have paid as a STH (and likely sitting in better seats)
- Do great things with the remaining money
- Enjoy avoiding the stress of trying to sell tickets/find someone to attend the game with
Below is the average price per ticket by section for 2022 (with the 12 percent amusement tax included).
For reference, here is the 2022 Wrigley Field seating chart:
I will finish this article with a personal story indicating that life after being a season ticket holder can be more financially lucrative than you may expect, while not degrading from the joy of seeing the Cubs play in person.
I had season tickets for eight years, from 2004 to 2011. I stopped after the 2011 season for many reasons (the biggest one being that I wasn’t living in Chicago anymore). Since then, every year, I have put $800 a year into a fund to go to Cubs games (which was 10 percent of my last invoice). I also put $400 into a “When the Cubs can clinch a World Series at Wrigley, I will be there” fund and an additional $300 per month towards my kids’ college fund.
I have averaged seeing the Cubs between 2-3 times per year since not renewing, in six different ballparks. I have seen them play four playoff games during that time, and I have yet to pay more than face value for any of the tickets for games attended the last 10 years.
I looked at the two accounts yesterday to see how they have grown (money has been invested since the onset).
My “World Series” kitty is at $12,000. I might tap into that to see the Cubs play the Reds in Iowa next August.
My account that will be used to help pay for my kids’ college just hit $120,000. Though there is more to save, I can’t tell you how happy I will be if they are able to graduate debt free (and very indirectly, the Cubs will have played a part in that outcome).
My position on season tickets for 2022 is...
This poll is closed
I will renew and keep the same seats
I will not renew
Undecided. I’m waiting for free agent signings between now and the invoice due date
Undecided, I’m waiting to hear from other partners sharing the season tickets with me
I will request a downgrade (a cheaper section or fewer games or fewer seats)
I will request an upgrade (more games or a better section or more seats)
I am on the wait list and will purchase if called
I am on the wait list and will not purchase if called
Something else (leave in comments)