Hello, Wrigley attendance watch fans! With no fans allowed in ballparks in 2020 and limited attendance for the first couple of months of the 2021 season, it’s been a while since BCBer Lifetime Cubs Fan and I have been able to update you on Wrigley attendance patterns and pricing.
Since we’re at the All-Star break, this seemed a good time to look at where the Cubs stand regarding attendance as well as where ticket prices are.
The Cubs returned to 100 percent capacity at Wrigley Field June 11. Before that, they played 21 games with a 25 percent capacity, four games with a slight increase over that 25 percent (adding a “fully vaccinated” section) and six games with capacity at 60 percent.
Of the 25 games at either 25 percent or slightly over, 22 were “sellouts,” in other words, all the tickets that could have been sold were. The other three, which sold a couple hundred under what was allowed, were all attributable to wet and/or cold weather.
Of the six games with a capacity limit of 60 percent, four were “sellouts.” One of the other two was down about 6,000 from that limit due to cold weather; the other, June 2 against the Padres, was announced at about 2,750 below that limit.
The Cubs have now played 14 games at 100 percent capacity. Of those, just two drew over 39,000, both Saturday nights against the Cardinals, June 12 and July 10.
I had thought that when Wrigley returned to full capacity, the Cubs might average about 38,000 per game (Wrigley’s full capacity is 41,649) for the rest of the season. If they had done that, total attendance for 2021 would have been around 2.3 million. But that hasn’t happened so far — the average announced crowd for the 14 full-capacity games has been 34,698. If the Cubs maintain that average the rest of the year (and there’s certainly no guarantee of that), they’d sell 1,249,128 tickets for the 36 remaining games and total attendance would be 2,135,560.
A couple more notes: The Cubs currently rank seventh in MLB in total attendance at 886,432, behind the Rangers, Braves, Astros, Padres, Dodgers and Rockies, and sixth in average attendance per game (19,698) behind the first five of those teams (with the Padres and Dodgers swapping positions). Of those clubs, the Rangers, Braves and Astros have been open to full attendance longer than almost every other team in 2021.
Now, I turn the rest of this post over to Lifetime Cubs Fan, who I met for the first time when he attended the game April 24 against the Brewers; we had a nice chat while waiting for the gates to open.
When 2021 started, I felt there was no way that I would see baseball live, nor do any attendance/pricing updates. But like many things in life, things change for the better, and I have seen two games in person (one in Milwaukee, one at Wrigley), and so here’s an update on Wrigley Field pricing and attendance.
Before I get into that, I must share something for those of you who come to Wrigley from out of town — I highly recommend the experience of staying at Hotel Zachary. Everyone should wake up and have this view from their balcony once in their lifetime. (Not going to lie, being lifetime Titanium Elite with Marriott and getting upgraded to a suite during my stay was nice too.)
And for those of us who attended games when capacity was limited to 25 percent, I will admit it was a pleasant experience, albeit expensive if you had to get tickets from the secondary market. Though the game I attended in Chicago was a birthday gift, I know the tickets were insanely above face value. This was a rare moment for season ticket holders to be able to get into games for a price well below secondary market prices. It was my first time back inside Wrigley since 2015 and I must say, they have tastefully transformed the iconic ballpark to be enjoyed for generations to come.
You also may recall, that in early June, it was indicated that the Cubs were going to full capacity on June 11. Pent-up demand plus first-place team plus warm summer months plus Wrigley Field = sellouts, right? Not quite, as the only game to sell out at this point is the Saturday, August 7 game against the White Sox. In fact, as Al noted above, announced attendance has only averaged 34,698 for the 14 games since a fully re-opened Wrigley, with no games above 40,000 in attendance. Compare that to a similar set of June/July games in 2019 which had an average attendance of 39.272 — that’s 4,574 fewer fans per game. Why is that? I am going to say pricing and post-pandemic hesitation to gather in large crowds are two key drivers in the decline of attendance.
Given the recent 11-game losing streak and the team shifting to sellers at the trade deadline, I imagine paid attendance will likely average less than 32,000 for the remainder of the season.
And how impactful was the 11-game losing streak on secondary market prices? I captured bleacher ticket prices from Cubs.com and StubHub on June 12 (as the Cubs were tied for first) and captured them again earlier this week (on July 12). What a difference a month makes. Note: I wanted to capture multiple sections, but the user experience on Cubs.com to see ticket prices for multiple sections at the same time is awful in my opinion, so I only got bleacher pricing.
Here are some insights (and charts!) on the information I gathered.
- Bleacher seats on StubHub for the five games sold out (bleacher section) on Cubs.com average $120 per ticket (40 percent premium to STH price). For the other 31 games, they average only $46 a ticket (5 percent discount to STH price).
- For home games after the All-Star break, the price for bleacher seats on StubHub have dropped approximately 21 percent over the last month from $70.64 to $56.11.
- Bleacher seats on Saturdays average over $98 per ticket, while games on Tuesdays average $28 per ticket.
Bleacher seats on StubHub (including all fees) are cheaper than what STH paid for 19 of remaining 36 games. Proof that timing of game weighs more heavily on secondary market pricing vs. the opponent being played: Who here would think it would be twice as expensive to see the Diamondbacks play the Cubs (weekend games in July) as opposed to the Brewers playing the Cubs (weekday games in August)?
- For bleachers, the average STH price for remaining 36 games is $53.22 and for Stubhub it is $56.11.
Overall, if you are patient and flexible, you once again will be able to find tickets to games that have seats cheaper than what season-ticket holders paid.