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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.

  • Jeff

    The truthful answer is that for Ricketts and Company, the Cubs and Wrigley field are a Cash Cow. They can stand up there and tell us all how much of a fan they are and tell us stories of their childhood memories of coming to Wrigley and their college years of being bleacher bums.

    However, in my book, they are no different than the last owners, the Tribune Co. For them, the Cubs are a play toy that they try to make the most amount of money from. Field a winning team and maybe I’ll change my attitude.

    Like one man once said, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

  • Believe in 2015

    Blah. I don’t know how to feel about this. Can’t really blame the Cubs for playing with the numbers.

    • cubs1967

      like a used car salesman -huh?

      ricketts is the reincarnation of p.k.wrigley or the mccaskey’s……….build me a cheap winner and i’ll be happy…….otherwise; charge up the ass and let the dumb fools pay.

      problem is; alot of fans like me in the 45 and up age are saying enough is enough….hence why 500K was lost off attendance and next year will be the same when this team loses 90 plus games………

      Ricketts may think he has this made owning the cubs……….but after 2003 all things changed the fans demand a winner….so the BS about losing on purpose isnt’ gonna cut it.
      we deserve better. i give the sox credit. they DID cut their prices, and not by some BS number of 2%………real 20%…………and they asked the sox fans opinion. our owner hasn’t done shit since he took over, but UP prices and tell us about charity work……..come to think of it………that’s our money (not mine-i’ve not gone their since he took over cuz I saw this BS coming along time ago).

      damn it’s gonna be a long winter………..go Bears!

      • Tommy

        ah, more insightful and cerebral commentary. I feel like I learn something with every post you make.

      • Ptbnl

        Then go root for the Sox. Don’t go to any Cubs games, don’t come to the Cubs blog. Your repeated bitching is past old.

      • Randy

        cubs1967 you are an idiot. 45 and up are saying enough, that is why attendance was down? I bet if the Cubs start winning this year you will come back. Attendance was down because the Cubs were out of it by May not because people decided ownership was not putting enough money toward the team. It has nothing to do with age or ownership, but performance on the field. If you don’t like the prices, don’t go to the game. Leaves more tickets for real Cub fans that will endure the losing years in hopes that Theo & Co. follow through on the promise of building a team that can make the playoffs every year with a chance to win the WS not just 2 good years followed by 4 bad ones. You want the team to go out and spend a bunch of money well where did that get the Marlins this year? The Tigers spent on Fielder because they already had a solid playoff team in place. So stop complaining all the time like the Cubs owe you something and let them do their jobs.

        • cubs1967

          thanks for the name calling…………

          the cubs were out of it in 2011 by May and drew over 3M……..so the reason for that is??
          you think fans aren’t sick of losing………??? the 104 yrs and counting……….
          did i say spend money just to spend>>>>>>>NO>…dumbass.(my turn to call names now)
          so the marlins sucked with an idiot mgr; the yanks won a division so guess you can spend and win. so did texas. the giants are over 100M so are the cards.
          what’ the hell is your point? the tigers spent and are in the WS.

          the article talks about the cubs making a big deal of lowering tickets 2%….yippee; till next day the sox say 20% and then it’s like wait a minute……….AND we don’t know if beer prices went up so………and the 2% is really “false”…….

          so what is your point??…………be glad we are losing……..??…….grab a mirror…….the idiot is staring you in the face.

          • Randy

            IDIOT!!!! Look at the teams you just mentioned and where did the talent on those teams come from? THEY DEVELOPED IT IN THEIR MINOR LEAGUES!!!! Then they spent money to fill holes that push them over the top.
            There is nothing out there to fix this team next year. No one likes to lose, but it is smarter to suck, get better draft picks and build a team then to over pay for they crappy talent that is out there.
            So when they Cubs go to the playoffs do you complain that you didn’t have to pay enough for tickets or the Cubs should have raised ticket prices, Hell no!! Do you really think that any business is going to lower prices just because they had a crappy season? Guess what at the end of the day, Baseball is a business about making money. Owners, players, and everyone else in the business want to make money. THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU!!!! If you quit liking the Cubs and became a SOX fan, guess what, they would fill your seat with someone else. So shut up, watch the games, cheer for the Cubs, or go somewhere else and complain about how they owe you something because you have had to watch so many losing seasons.

          • Mick

            cubs1967, let’s put this into terms you can understand. This ride we’re on together is like a family road trip, Theo and Ricketts are the parents, and we’re all the kids. While most of us kids are enjoying the sights (prospects) or seeing things we’ve never seen before (rebuilding) you’re like the kid that keeps asking, “are we there yet”? On top of that, you keep on criticizing the drivers even though this trip is supposed to take at least one more season. If we’re not almost there by this time next year then there might be a few more kids bitching with you. But if start bitching now, nobody is going to want to hang out with you the whole time when we finally get there. Don’t be that annoying kid cubs1967.

            • gutshot5820

              So you are saying Theo and the Ricketts are taking us for a ride? Sounds about right.

              • Mick

                So are you saying Theo and the Ricketts don’t have plans to rebuild the franchise and are lying to everyone all of the time?

  • cls

    I was a first time season ticket holder this season and had two seats in the upper deck box behind home plate. Our tickets got reduced a whopping $8 on the entire year for 2013 season. I joked with the buddy I own the tickets with that Tom Ricketts basically bought us a beer. :)

    • Jason Bau

      A beer to split…

      • cls

        Well, it was $8 per seat, so we decided that was actually a beer a piece. Can even get a Guinness for $7.50, so that’s a bonus.

  • TWC

    So the Cubs reduced some of the lowest-price tickets by 5 to 10%, lowering the financial threshold for entry to Wrigley, and the rest of the ticket prices remained essentially the same.

    Yeah, I’d say that’s grounds for bitching. Where’s my pitchfork?

    • MichiganGoat

      MOAR…. blah blah blah…. screw it I don’t have enough in me to try and make a witty response, I’m sure someone will actually light those pitchforks… oh wait… already done.

  • Spoda17

    I always love it when people think it is a crime for a business owner to make money. Guess what folks, if you don’t make money, you go out of business. Yeah, the verdict is still out on whether we will be competitive as they promise, but I’m willing to give it some time to materialize. How quickly we forget what the Tribune Company did…

    People own business to make money, even sports franchises. If you don’t like the prices, don’t go to the games. It’s ridiculous to think that Ricketts, or anyone for that matter, wants to buy a company and give away its product and lose money. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    • Jeff

      Simple question? Is it fair to have one of the highest ticket prices and one of the worst products in the industry? The real fans need to let Ricketts know that it is unacceptable by refusing to buy ticket packages. Unfortunately, the casual fan just continues to buy them up, thus validating to Ricketts it’s okay to put a crap product out there.

      The real fans lose!

      • Kevin

        Can’t say it much matters Jeff, the economy is tanking and eventually they won’t be able to give seats away.

        • Jeff

          Interesting way to look it at it Kevin…lol, you made me laugh! I guess your not too optimistic about the upcoming election either?

      • Brian

        Do you pay to go to the games?

        • Jeff

          Heck no, the last six games I went to, I got free tickets. There are always free tickets if you know the right people, why do you think the prices are so high. I wouldn’t pay them a dime right now, I’d rather sit at home, drink beer and watch them on TV for free.

          Rich people get richer of the backs of poorer people!

          • Brian

            This stuff is conflicting. You know not to pay for this if you so choose, but yet you continue to bitch to and about the people who are willing to choose. Why?

            • Jeff

              Because bottom line, this is my team. I only care about this team winning, not about how much money it can make.

              I see other owners, God forbid, even the Steinbrenners who care more about winning and are willing to do what it takes to give their team a chance to win it all.

              We have never done that, they only began to throw money into this team, pre-sale because they knew they would not get a maximum sale price for it if it wasn’t competitive.

              Now all I see is a lowering of payroll yet high ticket prices remaining. There is no clear cut agenda to a fans, just s tight lipped front office that is now saying, oh, yeah, It might take a few years.

              That is a load of bullshit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            • Jeff

              If this teams wins, it will make plenty of money and I will be willing to spend mine on it again.

      • Kubphan82

        Is it fair to expect that he lower the prices and lose the revenue to build a competing club? I’d rather the rebuilding take less time, I go to about 20 games a year… As I will this year… Despite the youth on the team and FA signings…

        There’s nothing casual about my fandom or my friends for the matter… To insinuate that “casual” fans are the ones buying up tix is ridiculous. I buy into the rebuilding and ticket costs are the least of my worries… Rix says the gates revenue is all going into baseball operations, it’s up to Theo to distribute…

        • When the Music’s Over

          Judging how good a fan you are by how much you are willing (or able) to afford is ridiculous and completely narrow-minded.

          • Kubphan82

            I’m not measuring my fandom. Just informing the poster that “casual” fans aren’t the only ones going to games. I know several people who would scoff at the idea of being called a casual fan…

            The point is devout Cub fans are going to several games a year and that we sliver the entire organization is improving and we understand that tix sales are going back into the team.

            • When the Music’s Over

              Again, you are making the same point, which is that how many games you can make it to/afford per year is a significant determinant of one’s dedication as a fan.

              I used to go to ~15 games per year, spending lots of money both on tickets and concessions (beer). Now that I have a kid and other expenses are really starting to roll in, I unfortunately cannot justify the cost of more than 1-2 games per year (unless I weasel my way into a free ticket). Does this mean I’m not a real fan anymore?

            • When the Music’s Over

              Here’s a very enlightening article about the composition of the attendees to a typical Cubs game, which states that 37% of the crowd are from out of state/tourists.

              http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/columns/story?columnist=greenberg_jon&id=6794275

              Tack on all the local people that go to games just be at Wrigley Field, children and those that are there to root for the other team, and I’m going to assume the “casual” baseball fan makes up well north of 60% of the crowd at Wrigley on an average day. This would mean that “casual” fans do indeed purchase the majority of tickets to Cubs games, and I’m not even taking into account business that use Cubs tickets to entertain clients. They too could be considered “casual” fans.

              • Pat

                I wouldn’t put too much into that study. That’s a number the Cubs came up with to try to convince the city they should pay for renovations. I believe it was a couple of surveyors on a couple of different days in the height of summer (when the study first came out there was an article with more detail, but I can’t find it now). Also consider who is more likely to stop so some ballpark employee can ask them questions, a tourist or a regular.

        • Sandberg

          I’m shocked at the overreaction and outrage to your post. It’s a good rebuttal to the argument that the people buying tickets are “casual” fans. Some people may want to reread the post after brushing up on their reading comprehension skills.

          • Sandberg

            Or maybe I should brush up on my internet skills? I think I got the replies mixed up. ;)

          • Cubbie Blues

            You are only the second response to Kupphan82’s post. Heh, reading comprehension.

          • When the Music’s Over

            Not true, at least not how I read it. I’m not going to get into a battle about reading comprehension, as I’m sure I read just fine. Just depends on different interpretations of the content between the lines.

      • Cubbie Blues

        Thanks for finally giving me the true definition of a real fan and a casual fan. I can now see that I am a casual fan. Guess I better stop following every more the club makes (this is definitely not something a casual fan would do). I better stop wearing my Bleacher Nation shirt (this is definitely not something a casual fan would do). I should remove my desktop photo of Wrigley’s Marquee with my daughters name and time of birth and birth weight on it (this is definitely not something a casual fan would do). On that thought have now have to go change her name since it is Addison (this is definitely not something a casual fan would do). Or I could go with my other thought which is that this thought is full of pompous self-righteousness.

        • TWC

          If you were a True™ Cubs Fan, you would have named your daughter “Ricketts”.

          Or I could go with my other thought which is that this thought is full of pompous self-righteousness.

          Yeah. Or this.

        • Jeff

          Come on, if your on this site your not a casual fan. Wrigley Field has become a tourist attraction to the city of Chicago. I live 600 miles away from Chicago and everybody I meet that knows I’m a Cubs fan always says they want to go see Wrigley field. They could probably sell 80% of Wrigley field seats to the casual fan who might go to one game a year, so they don’t really care if the “real” fan isn’t happy with the product on the field.

          • Cubbie Blues

            I was only using how you chose to define a real fan and a casual fan. I will refer you back to my original post.

          • HoustonTransplant

            I’m one of those people that are both on this blog AND maybe go to one game a year (if I’m lucky).

            Which category am I in? “TRUE” fan or casual?

      • bbmoney

        “Simple question? Is it fair to have one of the highest ticket prices and one of the worst products in the industry? ”

        Answer: You’re asking the wrong question. Fairness has nothing to do with it. Market forces set the price. If enough people don’t show up this year, prices will get lowered again next year, if more people show up they won’t.

        I also don’t know why you think your opinion is the end all be all for what “real” cubs fans should do (whatever “real” means). But as far as I’m concerned “real” cubs fans can do whatever they darn well please with their money, I’ll just worry about what I do with mine.

        • Jeff

          The argument was not that I was trying to define what a real fan’s agenda should be, if you read my other post, it is that ownership doesn’t have to consider the true fan in it’s business decisions. If you like me, a real fan, decides to not spend your money this year because you don’t like the product or the direction the club is headed, they will still fill Wrigley Field with or without our support.

          So how do you send a message to the ownership that the product is crap and needs improving given those circumstances,the short answer is, you can’t….you don’t beat the machine. i.e. the house always wins.,

          • Cubbie Blues

            I think they know the team was crap this year and needs improving. I could be wrong though, but I would bet anyone can tell that a team losing over 100 games is pretty bad. They also already know that real (those that frequent a Cubs blog, but don’t go to games) fans aren’t happy about the product.

            • Jeff

              I go to the road games, I don’t have the luxury to be able to go to Wrigley that often. If I lived in Chicago, I would probably be a bleacher bum..lol

          • Beer Baron

            I think the triple digit number in the L column will tell the management that the product is crap. Don’t think they need a boycott or million fan march to let them know.

            Of course I personally think “real” fans understand that given the lack of impact talent in the minors the team is going to have to spend money to improve. And given the poor broadcast contract they inherited and the antiquated stadium with limited revenue generating opportunities, the only real way to raise this money is through ticket sales. But I hate to inject common sense into an emotional argument – I’m sure we can have lower ticket prices with limited other revenues and still remain competitive – just ask the Royals!

      • Ptbnl

        So I’m not a real fan because I pay to go to games?

    • When the Music’s Over

      Yes, but it’s very amusing when ownership openly admits to purposely having a shit (and cheap) product, yet this shit product still carries the third highest average price per ticket in baseball.

      I understand sports are different, but in the real world, that would never work. People would choose the cheaper, superior product in a heartbeat, which in this case would be the White Sox. In other words, Cubs ownership is relying on loyalty and novelty to continue to sell tickets. If their intention is to stress test the elasticity of demand for Cubs tickets this year, they have created an almost perfect test case.

      On top of that, lowering ticket prices by 2% (depending on how this figure is derived), or $1 on the average ticket price (~$50), is sort of a kick in the nuts.

      • Jeff

        Well said!

      • Tommy

        “Yes, but it’s very amusing when ownership openly admits to purposely having a shit (and cheap) product”

        I’d be very interested in seeing the article you’re quoting when owndership openly admitted to purposely having a shit (and cheap) product. Please enlighten me.

    • cubs1967

      top 5 ticket prices’ bottom 5 team. do you go to restaurants that charge top 5 prices with bottom 5 food? NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

      it’s not about making a profit…………it’s about a winning team ……….cubs fans will pay plenty to see a winner…………

      your whole point is useless……..no one said don’t make a profit……….but since tommyboy took over;;;payroll has gone down to 135M-120M-105M-and 2013 is widely assumed at 90M……that’s 145M………….where is it?………….from it’s high point at 145M……..

      please…………..

      • DarthHater

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        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I almost peed myself when I put together the acronym … I am, like you, very mature.

          • DarthHater

            I am both ashamed and delighted.

        • JR

          DHater, thats good stuff my man..

        • DarthHater

          I just heard that Comedy Central is going to do a telethon for the cause, called: “Night of Too Many Ellipses.”

        • cubs1967

          that is quite funny…………………

          really……….it is…………

          congrats!………..i think

      • Tommy

        You know what I wouldn’t do Cubs1967? I wouldn’t go to a blog for a restaurant over and over again if I didn’t like the restaurant.

  • mudge

    but it fell in a day.

  • fester30

    The current owners have said that everything profit from baseball operations will go back into baseball. We’ll see if that’s true, but I have no reason to doubt it yet.

    You can blame the owners all you want but it’s a combination between the owners and players. Do either Arod or Pujols really need 20-30 million a year to survive or even live a luxurious lifestyle? No. Do they need those high contracts to show they are paid like the best players in the game? Yes. The players get so much money because the owners will pay them. The owners will pay them because they know we’ll pay higher ticket, concession, and merchandise prices and continue to watch the games on TV, all of which continue to bring in huge sums of money to the big league team. All the while a typical family of four can go to a ballgame once a year instead of going to a handful of games like a couple decades ago. I do miss when bleacher seats were ten bucks a ticket.

  • baseballet

    Ownership’s parsimony is beginning to worry me. I hope that the low payroll and high ticket prices aren’t harbingers of a mid-market budget going forward. I’m hoping the Cubs will be a top tier payroll team by 2014, but it’s not looking that way.

  • cubzforlife

    The price of my season tickets stayed the same. Sect 209 row five. I cannot afford four this year so I plan to keep two. But if the team begins sustained success I will have my seats and my playoff tickets. When the Cubs are winners it is a great feeling to know you have a ticket to any game you wish to attend. That’s why I have season tickets. When the park is jumping with crazed fan’s chanting “Lets go Cubbies” I have no worries, the guy next to me is my new best friend, and the piss warm Old Style tastes great. For me that’s money well spent.

  • http://deleted Mr. Gonzo

    In sports “fandom”, a “true fan” of a team goes to games even when a team sucks. Casual fans only tune in when the team is winning, or what is called being on the band wagon. If you constantly trash talk the team & refuse to go see them play live or on TV just because they are going through a rebuild, you are what I like to refer to as “one-night fans”.

  • CM

    I’m in section 235 and my two tickets went down almost $500 for next year which is around a 7% reduction. I live in L.A. and get to about 8 games a year, so I’m excited for any drop in ticket prices. The upside for any season ticket holders is, the Cubs are one of the few teams in baseball that if they get consistently good for a string of years will return big money ticket wise. I know some Boston season ticket holders that regularly got $200 per ticket for any regular season game after they won it in 2004. I think Cubs tickets for a consistent playoff team will wind up quite valuable.

  • Moe

    Ok I just wanted to chime in on here. This is my first time leaving a comment on bleacher nation but I do read the articles almost on a daily basis. I consider myself a true die hard cubs fan, win or lose I still watch em and go to the game every chance I could. I do buy into the notion of building a strong core and develope within the organization to make us a consistent winner but I also know that the cubs could do more to please their fans. I’m only 28 years old but I’ve watched them as a kid and I do realize there are fans that are older who have been waiting ages for a winner. The problem that I see with the cubs is the management doesn’t know what they are doing in terms of making the team better. Management does know how to maximize profits which I feel like Ricketts is doing. Shake a few hands, hire Epstein, say we are going to get better but it will take time you know the standard to keep face with the people, but I just see them half assing stuff and that’s why we lose more than we win. When we had winners it was from having solid teams on the field that could easily be kept on the field by just adding a piece or two that aren’t huge names but could easily do the job(Mark DeRosa, DeJesus) ect but what I realize is that the cubbies always go to the extremes. Go all in or go all out its never to have a solid team. And sadly I could agree with other posters they put the team that require the least amount of work to maximize the income. I wish we could take a page from Yankees. Sure they spend a lot but they have a ton of championships and most of there players aren’t developed within but they are willing to spend more money to put a winning team on the field year in and year out knowing that they could over charge cuz the team wins. But if you see the yanks they don’t just disband the team cuz they aren’t winning they get rid of problem or add a new piece. They’ve had Jeter and other players like posada Bernie Williams players like that on previous Yankees teams because they are solid pieces. We just get rid of all solid pieces cuz we feel it isn’t working which it is but it’s other aspects that we need to fill voids in.
    Basically what I’m saying is we need baseball people in place that have the liberty of building a great team because I feel Ricketts is in it to do the bare minimal to make the most money because he doesn’t seem to be giving Epstein free range to do his thing. He hired him just so it looks like we are doing something when in reality it seems like the opposite

    • SalukiHawk

      Seriously?? SMH over and over again…

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