Cubs season ticket holders received their invoices for 2023 today and the pleasant surprise is that prices went down an average of 5 percent.
The 2022 invoice for my bleacher season ticket was for $3,816.88 per ticket (including the amusement tax), an average price per game of $47.12. The price for a full season bleacher ticket for 2023 is $3,569.44, an average of $44.07 per game. That’s a decrease of 6.75 percent, which is among the largest decreases for season tickets, per this article by Meghan Montemurro in the Tribune, which says the decreases range from 2.7 percent to 6.7 percent — as noted above, the drop for bleacher tickets is slightly higher than the top of that range.
The team appears to understand that post-pandemic, fans have in many cases decided to spend their money on things other than Cubs baseball, per Cale Vennum, senior vice president of Marquee 360, who’s the executive overseeing Cubs ticketing. From Montemurro’s article:
“We definitely do hear that it’s a more competitive environment,” Vennum said. “People have a lot of choice in their opportunities and the things they want to go out and do in their lives. And a lot of them are choosing to come to Wrigley Field, but we saw that there was an opportunity that we could decrease prices heading into next year.
“Fans have a lot of choice and they’re making a big commitment to us when they decide to have season tickets, and we wanted to be responsive to the competitive environment and economic environment that they’re seeing today.”
As I noted over the month of September here, the Cubs sold 2,616,780 tickets in 2022, their fewest in a full season (excluding the two pandemic-affected seasons of 2020 and 2021) since 1997. And that’s a “tickets sold” number — as you likely saw on TV or at the ballpark if you were in attendance, there were a lot of no-shows, particularly late in the season. This included an announced crowd of 23,425 September 29 against the Phillies, the smallest announced crowd at Wrigley Field at full capacity since September 4, 2013. That had to be a wakeup call for management, and this price reduction should help them retain season ticket holders.
This drop is the largest in nine years, per Jon Greenberg in The Athletic:
The closest parallel came in 2013 when the Cubs dropped ticket prices an average of 3.8 percent. That came in the middle of a four-season span, from 2011-14, where prices dropped 7.2 percent. The Cubs lost 377 games during that time. (Not surprisingly, the Cubs raised prices by almost 30 percent following the 2015-16 seasons.)
This is correct, but I should also note that prices went up in 2010 and 2011 even after mediocre-to-bad seasons in 2009 and 2010. That meant that the increase after the World Series win, for tickets in 2017, made the price roughly equivalent to what it was in 2011 (slightly higher, as shown below). Since 2017, some season ticket prices have declined while others remained mostly flat — with some exceptions when the team realigned some seating, particularly in the terrace reserved sections in the right field corner. A complete list of bleacher season ticket pricing since 2011 is below.
Among perks given to STH, the team has added a 15 percent discount on merchandise purchased at the Cubs Store in Gallagher Way and the main Cubs Store inside Wrigley Field. That’s in addition to the same discount for food and non-alcoholic beverages. This merchandise discount is something STH have been asking for, so good for the Cubs for doing it.
The team is also offering a free MLB.TV subscription — this is a good value! — and a 15 percent discount off at the MLB Store.
Here is the price chart for 2023 bleacher season tickets:
Here is the full 2023 schedule, noting the dates in each pricing tier. Note that there are game times listed. The Cubs remind everyone that those are tentative and subject to change.
And in case you were wondering, here’s the price for a single bleacher season ticket for the last 13 seasons, 2011-23 (including all taxes and fees):
2020: $3,878.18 (this would have been the price had there been a full season)
So as you can see, prices began to drop after the 101-loss year in 2012, were raised quite a bit after the two great years in 2015 and 2016, dropped a bit after that, and basically stayed mostly flat from 2018-22, then dropping significantly for 2023.
The thing that’ll make renewals interesting is that a 20 percent deposit for renewal is due November 16 (with the balance due January 18). It seems unlikely that the Cubs will make any major free agent signing or trade by that date, which is only a couple of weeks after the World Series ends. So current STH renewing won’t know if the promises made by Jed Hoyer & Co. to put a contending team on the field in 2023 are going to happen by the time they have to plunk down money for a deposit on next year’s tickets.
However, the reductions are definitely a step in the right direction to acknowledge that prices were likely too high in 2022 for the team the Cubs put on the field. Of course, the Cubs have room to increase single-game prices, and if the team performs the way we all hope it will next year, they’ll certainly do that.
As usual, I will have BCBer Lifetime Cubs Fan, who has done pricing analysis for me here for several seasons, put down his thoughts about the 2023 season ticket prices and we’ll have another post here on this topic soon.