Monday, July 26, 2010

State of Cubs Ticket Demand: Not Good

The Cubs just finished a weekend series with their biggest rivals (sorry, Sox fans, you aren't in the National League, so the Cubs don't care as much about your team as they do about the Cardinals).  The weather was cooperative for the most part.  A bit hot and sticky, but the games dodged the rain completely.

The Cubs announced attendances for the weekend were:
  • Friday - 40,687
  • Saturday - 41,009
  • Sunday - 41,406
Those are all healthy numbers, but last I knew in 2009, the seating capacity in Wrigley is 41,120, so only Sunday's crowd reflected a healthy number of Standing Room Only tickets being sold.

Also, compare those numbers to the series last year that occurred on July 24-26 against the Cincinnati Reds. Sure, the Reds are another division rival, but they are not the Cardinals:
  • Friday - 41,406
  • Saturday - 41,364
  • Sunday - 41,528
Friday was down 1.7% from last year, Saturday down .8%, and Sunday down .3%.  Nothing terrible, but any downturn in attendance is bad news for the Cubs.

The biggest indicator that Cubs ticket demand is still way down is who was using all of those sold tickets.  Saturday's game was about 40% Cardinals fans.  I don't think I am exaggerating.  There was red everywhere.  I got to the game a bit late and was walking up the ramp as Gorzelanny was trying to get out of the early scoring threat.  As I walked up, I heard a tremendous cheer and I assumed Gorzelanny had struck out the batter.  Then I looked down at the terrace reserved seating area and it was all Cardinal fans and they were all standing and cheering.

The cheers for Aaron Miles hitting the ball over Tyler Colvin's head were almost as loud as the cheers for Starlin Castro's homerun.

Sunday was probably more like 25% Cardinal fans.  The main seating area was heavily blue, but the bleachers and terrace reserved sections were dominated by red.

The Cardinal fans always bring a large contingent to Wrigley, no matter how much it costs them to get in, but this year seemed particularly easy.  When I spoke to a couple of scalpers and ticket brokers, I found out why.  They were asking for face value, which means if you aren't a rube buying on the secondary market for the first time, you can probably talk them down to $5 or $10 under face.

I didn't look at Stub Hub this weekend because I didn't think to write a post about it until during the game last night, but Craigslist had lots of 400 level seats ($70 face) selling in the $40-$50 range.  I imagine that the tickets on Stub Hub were probably similar to the street market.

Basically, if you are a Cardinals fan and you wanted to see your mighty Cardinals beat up on the hapless Cubs this past weekend, then you could easily get a ticket.  Judging by the amount of red, that is exactly what they did.

So those numbers put up this weekend were definitely a bit soft.  Granted, the Ricketts will take it.  Cardinal fan money spends just as easily as Cub fan money, so for that series, they probably couldn't have cared less.  But it is probably a harbinger of some sparse days to come at Wrigley.

Meanwhile, the rooftop owners are also apparently having some difficulty selling their seats.  I got this in my e-mail today:

Generally, trying to sell your product at 68% off is not a sign that your product has been selling well.

This can't please the Cubs too much since the rooftop prices at this level (that include all-you-can-eat-and-drink packages) are suddenly better values than buying a face value ticket from the Cubs and having to buy all your food and beer.

Plus, you have the added bonus of being further away and not having to see some little turd like Felipe Lopez pose like he's Barry Bonds after hitting a homerun off an AAAA pitcher.


Apparently tickets and rooftop seats aren't the only things that are not selling well.  According to Al Yellon at BCB, the price of the Cubs Fantasy Camp has also been dropped precipitously. (h/t @talkchibaseball):

The price of the Wrigley fantasy camp, scheduled for August 8-9, has been reduced from $7500 to $3000. Interns were handing out flyers at the ballpark today.

It's hard to believe that the city of Chicago lost out on the Olympic bid with the steady hand of Wally Hayward at the helm running effective promotions like this one.


Anonymous said...


Tom Wolf said...

As with any trend, there is never one reason for it. There are several. In this case it's a down team, a down economy and higher ticket prices. People don't mind paying $20-$30/ticket to see an average team at Wrigley. But my upper deck box seats are $52 each. Bleachers are $45 each. Yikes!

Aisle 424 said...

As both Tom and Anonymous allude to, I think the Cubs seriously misjudged the market this year. They have worked under the notion that their tickets are "recession proof" for the past few years, but I think this season has shown that while the effects of the recession have not hit the Cubs as hard as other companies (-1% drop in attendance isn't earth-shattering), they are not immune. This is particularly true when the team on the field is not contending.

mark said...

I agree with the people citing the down economy as reasons for fewer ticket sales. Although this team is further behind than last year, they seem to be more exciting to watch with emergence of Colvin and Castro, the addition of Byrd, the resurgence of Soto. I live out of state so I only make it to a game every couple of years. However, I paid $32 for ticket and could not see home plate as the view was obstructed by a pillar. I think obstructed view seats should be discounted.

Anonymous said...

tim, go read this from january 2009. these f*&^ers over at clark and addison actually believed the team was recession proof.

Aisle 424 said...

wpbc, I knew you had that post somewhere but I was too lazy to hunt for the link, but that is exactly what I was referring to above.

On a different note, how did you format the link in the comment? I have tried using the tags and it never worked for me. I just assumed that I couldn't use HTML tags in Blogger's comments.

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