Caleb Kilian made his major league debut last Saturday night and I bought my tickets the second I heard the news Friday evening. I pulled out my phone, opened StubHub, searched for a single ticket, went to the filters and selected “best value.” Within two minutes I had a single seat in section 206 that I knew would have great sightlines because I’m familiar with the park and know which rows, seat numbers I want.
I have done some variation of this move hundreds of times in the last few years. I’ve never counted the number of tickets I buy in a single season, but it is well over a dozen. More often than not I get those tickets on StubHub because the fees are predictable, I have enough information to make an informed decision about what I’m getting, and StubHub’s partnership with MLB means that it’s historically been easy for season ticket holders to resell on StubHub, which means I’ve always had plenty of inventory to choose from.
At least until Tuesday, when StubHub updated their app in a few ways that make it substantially less user-friendly, particularly at a park like Wrigley Field. My Cuppa Cubbie Blue podcast co-host, Danny Rockett, was the first person I saw posting about the issues:
In addition to removing seat numbers, @StubHub has removed the ability to see how many tickets remain for a #Cubs game. No transparency. Terrible move for fans. I will be seeking other companies to sell and purchase tickets from.— Danny Rockett (@SonRanto) June 8, 2022
I have been a @StubHub affiliate for 10 years. Even had their link in my bio to promote their service. Just took it down until they fix their Anti-fan app update. I am finished promoting your product.— Danny Rockett (@SonRanto) June 8, 2022
I use StubHub at least once a homestand so I logged in to see for myself and Danny is absolutely correct that their update makes the app borderline unusable for Wrigley Field. I only qualify the word unusable because I suppose technically you can still get tickets on the app, you just won’t have anywhere near enough information to determine if you’ll be able to see the game from your seat or if you’ll have a pole blocking your view of the field.
Let’s start with a caveat, after fielding a bunch of tweets from people like me, Danny and fans who were having quite the time listing their tickets yesterday (more on that in a second) StubHub sent out an email that removed all MLB listed games from June 6-9 due to “maintenance”:
The MLB - StubHub mess I’m referring to: pic.twitter.com/8Z5iQU9ppH— Laurel Krahn (@wintwins) June 8, 2022
So I suppose it is possible they are working around the clock to fix some of the issues I’m about to document, but honestly they should seriously consider going back to the old app. This tweet is from Friday morning, after MLB tickets were available again — spoiler alert, the issues have not been resolved:
@StubHub Hi, I bought tickets to the Yankees/Cubs game tonight. Still haven't received them. Emailed, waiting on hold for minutes now on the customer support line, sent a DM....— A.J. Martelli (@AJ_Martelli) June 10, 2022
Additionally, it is worth noting that thousands of fans who had tickets listed for MLB events over the last three days just lost whatever money they hoped to recoup from those tickets this week. That likely wasn’t a huge deal for fans of some teams. I mean, how much demand could there possibly have been for yesterday’s Orioles vs. Royals match-up in Kansas City? That said, a number of fans just gave their tickets away or didn’t use them, like this White Sox fan:
I can’t make the game tonight, and stubhub is acting the fool. Giving away my two season tickets to tonight’s game (section 117). Reply to this tweet with your best joke. Me and a few WST buddies will pick a winner at 3:00pm. Make us laugh, folks.— Shaun of the Chi Sox (@ShaunoftheCHI) June 8, 2022
How much money did fans lose over the last 3+ days? We’ll likely never know. StubHub certainly isn’t going to volunteer that information. But I’m guessing it’s substantial.
As of Friday morning the listings at Wrigley Field are still incredibly inconsistent. Some listings include ticket information like the section and the row, other listings only mention the section. As Danny and I discussed on today’s podcast there’s a pretty big difference between being in row three of a section in the 200s and row 24. While StubHub will let you search for an aisle seat, they won’t give you seat information to identify which aisle seat. That means you don’t know if you will have vendors blocking your view of the field every 30 seconds or not. Danny and I discussed this at length on today’s latest podcast episode.
Lack of seat information
The most important piece of missing information here is the lack of seat information which is critically important for determining if you will have obstructed sightline or not. For my purposes this lack of information means I will not even consider a large number of tickets that are currently on StubHub. For example, there are posts in the grandstand for most of the 200s and all of the 400s. Without seat numbers, it is impossible to know if you’ll have a pole in your way. I would not buy any ticket over row six in the 200s or any 400 level ticket without seat information.
Lack of row information
Relatedly, but somehow even worse is the hit or miss lack of row information in some sections. As I mentioned above the difference between row three or 23 is pretty stark in the outfield corners. Once you move into the areas with poles however, I wouldn’t buy any ticket in the 200s without row information. Rows 2-6 are amazing with with few obstructions and great views of the entire park. Row one has a ton of concourse traffic and can be difficult to see at times, even though it is raised up a bit. The bottom line is I wouldn’t recommend buying any seat in the 200s without row information, which is a bummer, because it is my favorite place to sit in the park.
Eliminated the most useful filters
My favorite filter, by far, in the old StubHub was sorting by value. It let me quickly see where I was getting the most bang for my $8 ticket (plus applicable fees). It basically bumped tickets to the top where the list price on StubHub had the biggest gap with face value. That filter no longer exists. You can filter by row, but that’s a bit of a fool’s errand as I explained above because row one isn’t always the best. Additionally, that row filtering bumps the bleachers general admission seats to the top by default. The long and short of it is, you have to scroll passed a few hundred bleacher/row one seats to get to the real deals here, and there are fewer of them, given the number of seats with no row information at all.
For multiple years StubHub has been my go to ticket re-sale app. Their partnership with MLB made it easy for season ticket holders to list their tickets, their filters made it easy for me to find the seats I wanted, and the information they provided had enough transparency for me to be sure I was getting a seat with a great sightline at the Friendly Confines. With this latest update they have removed a lot of the information that made buying tickets on StubHub easy. Judging by a quick Twitter search for StubHub the app is still unusable as of this writing, with dozens of fans asking about their listings for tickets tonight and complaints that they are getting cut off after 50 or more minutes on the phone with customer service.
Even if the app comes back for the purposes of buying a ticket, I’m not sure it’s as useful given what they’ve eliminated. That’s a shame, because I will not be paying the full-face value for Cubs games for the rest of this season, and now it seems like a bunch of us may be in the market for a new resale app.