Once upon a time, we tried to help a Cubs fan get a partner for his season ticket renewal. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like he’ll make it in time to get the package renewed, which means those seats will be forfeit and some other lucky fan will get a view from the 400s. This fan in particular didn’t want to get rid of his tickets per se, but with the economy being what it is and the price of tickets being what they are, it’s very hard to come up with and justify the expense which adds up to almost $10000. Quite a bit of money to plunk down on a couple seats no matter how much of a die-hard fan you are. A couple offseasons ago, Tim from Obstructed View elected not to renew his tickets, more voluntarily though (you can read his rationale over there at the ol’ Aisle 424 blog). Despite being one of baseball’s oldest and most popular franchises, it seems that a number of factors are preventing folks from investing in the product.
The Cubs are still a draw in the city, but like all sports-related entertainment, the draw is bigger when the team wins. Tim, as I recall, got his tickets after the 1998 playoff run. Anthony got his in 2004, after the NLCS appearance. There was a bit of attrition over the past couple years in season ticket renewals due to the club’s struggles, and Anno’s family was finally able to get their season ticket package after shooting up 2000-3000 places on the waiting list in a single year. The fact that nobody is biting on a season ticket package for some really good seats (check out the view from the 400s sometime, especially near the press box) suggests that people still don’t have faith in the product. This may change with the coming years as Theo Epstein and friends work to improve the franchise, but for now there seems to be little reason for fans to buy into the Cubs experience.
Part of it, as said above, is economics. Most people would probably prioritize putting food on the table and a roof over their heads over 81 home games plus first crack at playoffs tickets. I think that is actually the bulk of the rationale, as these tickets aren’t exactly cheap. Anthony’s ticket deal was for all 81 home games and two seats, around $60 per seat per game. I would’ve helped had I disposable income, and Anno probably would’ve bought in if he hadn’t scored his own tickets.
In a way, it’s okay to not be able to afford season tickets because of all the day games that I wouldn’t have been able to go to anyway. For the most part, I get my tickets greatly subsidized through the University of Chicago, friends or even for free. That works out because I could just get some 500s level tickets and then eventually sneak down to wherever the seat Nazis don’t bug me. I’m a frugal Cubs fan and get a lot of crap for it, but I like saving money even though I enjoy watching baseball live. I think a lot of fans right now realize that the club is in a transition phase where they’re going to suck for a while, so some of them may elect to buy into season tickets while attrition rates are high, or continue to get their tickets cheaper through StubHub or secondary market sites instead of paying full price. I’m a firm believer of never paying full price if you don’t have to. If at some point I win the lottery, however, I wouldn’t mind having 400s-level seating that I can call my own.
The flip side is that if you decide to forfeit your place as a season ticket holder, the waiting list is tens of thousands deep. I’m around 115000 on the wait list last I checked around New Year’s, and that’s fine because by the time it gets to me I might just be able to afford them. With the aforementioned attrition rate it might not take too long, but some folks are reluctant to give them up now if the Cubs can magically get good again, and stay good this time. It’s a very big decision, and a rather expensive gamble, to have to make. Do you continue to blow a few grand a year to hold your place and wait out who knows how many more years of crap for that shot at witnessing glory from your personal seats? Or do you drop the tickets now, get back in line and come back just in time for the next window of contention, but lose your priority for the best seats in the house?
In other news, the Yankees hired Jim Hendry to be a special assistant to GM Brian Cashman. Hendry, the much-maligned former GM of the Cubs, was actually one of the reasons why Cubs fans packed the house and why the season ticket waiting list got as long as it did, building three playoff teams and at least another couple that should’ve made it to October. Hendry had his faults, but let’s not forget to appreciate the good he did do, however fleeting that was.
Here’s hoping you guys can score some Cubs tickets one way or another, whether it’s donating a kidney for some box seats or hopping into the bleachers for a buck off a desperate scalper when the Cubs are out of it by May.