The first Chicago Cubs game I ever attended at Wrigley Field was this one, around when my friend (a Chicago-area native) graduated from college. It was a bit overcast, and it threatened to rain all day, but the Cubs won and I was satisfied. I also recall that we got four relatively decent seats in the right field corner for less than $50 from a scalper, and therein starts our story.
A few years later, after I had finished my core classes at the University of Chicago, I started regularly taking my family to Wrigley Field during what we might call the “lean years” of the Tom Ricketts era. I think I went to around 10 games each year until around 2013, when I started a post-graduate job. I don’t recall ever having to pay more than about $5 for a ticket due to student subsidies and handouts, and the one time I actually splurged was to sit in the bleachers for the first time. It wasn’t as cool as people made it seem, but it was still affordable.
And then, around when Theo Epstein and company were ramping up the plan and we would start seeing more and more elite prospects trickle to the top, I recognized that the days of me being able to go to Wrigley affordably were numbered. It’s no secret that I’ve never held a high-paying job, but as a financially-conscious and frugal person, I always found a way to keep things reasonable for myself and the family. Unfortunately, we’ve reached a perfect storm where I’m too busy to go all the time anymore, and the Cubs also…well, they’re just REALLY GOOD now.
With success comes increased demand, and simple economics dictate that an attractive entertainment product like the Chicago Cubs will become even more expensive to see live:
The team said the average ticket price increase will be 19.5 percent, with a range by section from six to 31 percent, and the highest-priced tickets will be for the best seats.
Of course the best seats (i.e. the ones along the dugouts and behind home plate) will be the most expensive, but I’ve always been fine with the seats furthest back on the lower bowl, or even in the 500s. It was easier back in the days of sucking to move down as the park emptied (or it was relatively empty already), but as you’ve seen in the past two seasons, the park is always packed now, even during mid-week day games, so that’s out of the question. It may be an adventure just to get any ticket to get into the park.
I guess there’s some good news for families:
Families can still find affordable ticket options at Wrigley Field, including tickets starting at $9 and more than a quarter of the schedule categorized as either “bronze” or “silver” games.
The problem is, as we saw with the Cubs Convention tickets, that scalpers camp in the virtual waiting rooms and snatch up tickets before most of us peasants can get our share of them. I am more interested in the experience of being at the ball park with my family than who the opponent is, so if I could get a set of $9 tickets, then I’d be happy, but I feel that the Cubs increasing prices are just the beginning. Someone is always willing to pay more, which is why you see such ridiculous prices on StubHub and Ticketmaster. These prices are why the Cubs are perfectly justified in jacking up the prices the way they did.
I was already resigned to the fact that I wouldn’t be able to attend the Cubs Convention this time around, and I very much anticipated that prices would go up again because everyone wants to see a winner. It’s the way of things; fans would rather pay (and handsomely, it would seem) to see a winner. Given the choice of a good Cubs team that keeps me at home on the radio or various TV channels, or a bad Cubs team that allows me to lounge around the park with $10 seats, I think I will take the former. Nobody’s really twisting my arm to pay through the nose anyway, and I’m sure I’ll be able to take the family to at least one game in 2017, just to say we saw the defending World Champions.