The Chicago Cubs had a disappointing season on the field in 2019, but they may have found a way to make that up to some of their season ticket holders.
On Wednesday, the team announced that season ticket prices will be down an average of 2.5% going into the 2020 season. Cale Vennum, the Cubs vice president of ticketing, says some season ticket packages will be down as much as 6.5%.
“Our season ticket holders are obviously disappointed that we didn’t make the playoffs last year,” Vennum said Wednesday, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune. “But they look at this team and still see a roster they expect to be really competitive for 2020. The feedback we’ve gotten around (new manager) David Ross has been fantastic. Our fans are really excited to see him lead this team in 2020."
The Cubs missed the postseason for the first time since 2014. Big changes have already been made to the coaching staff in an effort to refocus the team on reaching its larger goal. The biggest change will have David Ross, who was a member of the Cubs 2016 championship team, replacing Joe Maddon as manager.
Even still, there’s an air of uncertainty surrounding the performance of several key players and the construction of the roster. Vennum did his best to put a positive spin on things, but there’s concern the Cubs won’t have the resources to make the appropriate on-field changes for 2020 without compromising the payroll beyond that point. As such, there might be concern that interest in the team will suffer.
For what it’s worth, Vennum indicated that the Cubs heavy home schedule earlier in the season was a factor in the decision as well.
Cubs say no season ticket packages will increase. Some will be reduced by as much as 6 percent.— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) November 6, 2019
The bad news is the Cubs have 18 home games in March/April. 37 percent of all home dates come in March/April/May.
“It’s predominantly when you have six more games in March and April that obviously is going to factor in (to the price),” Vennum said. “So really strong sales, you combine that with a little different schedule next year, put all those factors together, that’s what led to the 2.5% price decrease.”
Whatever the reason or reasons, it’s notable when ticket prices drop. That’s something we rarely see in today’s world of sports and business. But in the Cubs case, what does it really mean?
How much are Cubs fans really saving?
As The Athletic’s Jon Greenburg points out, that depends on a few things.
What do these pricing changes mean for the fans? Well, the overall decrease is good for every season ticket holder. The savings differ depending on the package, of course.
For example, an upper reserved outfield season-ticket package is dropping $51.52. A club box infield package is down $779.52. Of course, the former costs $2,387.84 ($29.48 per game) and the latter $14,471.52 ($178.67 per game) for the 81-game home slate.
For season ticket holders, these changes are a positive in terms of money outlaid, but it also means it’ll be a little tougher to make money on the flooded secondary market, particularly after an 84-win season.
The secondary market is something that can’t be overlooked.
As Greenburg notes, the money put in will be less, but the money taken back on secondary market sales could decrease enough to offset those savings or wipe them out. If more fans are looking to sell and less fans are looking to buy, which is possible if Cubs fans are disappointed by their offseason moves or the team starts slow in April, that is not ideal.
It will be interesting to see how that all plays out because it could impact the thought process of the team and fans going into 2021.
Individual ticket prices are up
While season ticket prices are down, 66 percent of individual tickets will see a $1 to $5 increase, according to The Athletic.
Due to the schedule, the Cubs have also rearranged some of their premium packages to accommodate a rare summer visit by the Boston Red Sox and to help draw fans to March, April and May games when school is in session and the Chicago weather can be unpredictable.
Overall, the Cubs attendance was down by an average of 586 fans per game in 2019. Since their championship season in 2016, attendance is down 4.3%. It’s a trend the Cubs obviously do not like. With expectations trending down, it’s clear they are looking for solutions.
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