As we learned last week, the Chicago Cubs have reduced ticket prices, on average, 2% for 2013, with a 10% reduction coming in the bleachers. But when you start talking about reductions “on average,” there are quite a few ways you can play with the numbers to achieve a nominal reduction, even if it doesn’t play out that way in reality.
The tricky part comes in with those “tiers” that the Cubs use – Marquee, Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze, Oak, Plastic, Teflon, Floor Mat, etc. Because the “Marquee” tier is the most expensive tier, the Cubs can reduce the “average” ticket price simply by having fewer Marquee games throughout a season. We’ll get back to that.
So, what changes did the Cubs actually make to the prices you will pay next year?
Well, BN’er Hansman put together a spreadsheet taking a closer look at the changes, stripping away the “tiers,” so you get a much simpler picture:
As you can see, for every seat location, the average ticket price is lower in 2013 than it was in 2012, with the exceptions of the Club Box OF and the Terrace Box IF, which “increases” were essentially nothing.
So, clearly, it’s fair for the Cubs to say that virtually all ticket prices dropped, right?
Well, as I said, it gets stickier if you really drill down into those tiers, as Tim over at Obstructed View recently did. As Tim notes:
You’ll notice that only 9 individual ticket price points were reduced. 37 price points were raised and 19 remained steady. Wait… what?
How did the season ticket prices come down while 56% of the price points actually went up? The key is how the games were distributed in the five pricing tiers. The tickets in the seating bowl have 4 fewer games in the Marquee tier than last year and 3 more in the Bronze tier. The Bleachers have 7 fewer in the Marquee tier and 7 more in the Bronze. They also have 8 more Gold level and 8 fewer Silver. So even though many of the price points were raised, over the course of the season the total amount to purchase every ticket was lowered because there were fewer of the most expensive tickets available.
Tim goes on to note that, for the cheapest games (the “Bronze” tier), ticket prices actually increased an average of 13%. Tim also points out that, because individual tickets are going to be $1 to $2 more than the listed season ticket prices, folks who buy individual tickets could very well end up paying more in 2013 than they did in 2012.
So, what’s the deal? Did the Cubs really reduce ticket prices? Or did they fudge some definitions and numbers to make it seem like they reduced ticket prices?
Well, it kind of depends on your point of view. If you picked a seat at random in 2013 and a tier at random, the ticket price is likely to be slightly higher than it was in 2012 for that same seat in that same tier. But, on the other hand, a number of games that would have been considered “Marquee” in 2012 will be a lower tier in 2013 – which means that, for a number of non-random games in 2013, the ticket price is likely to be considerably lower than it was in 2012.
There really isn’t an answer here, just a discussion. You can frame things however you are inclined to do so, but more information is always better.