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Today, MLB Advanced Media and StubHub announced that they’ve renewed their agreement for StubHub to be MLB’s official re-selling marketplace for game tickets. The agreement began in 2007, and under it, MLB received a chunk of cash from StubHub, and folks looking to sell their tickets could use StubHub under the imprimatur of MLB – there was actual coordination between the entities. It was easy, convenient, and allowed folks to get tickets to sold out games … as well as dirt cheap tickets to not-so-sold-out games.

And that last part has been a problem for some teams, including three that decided to opt-out of the StubHub deal, according to a StubHub spokesperson. The Angels, the Yankees, and …

The Cubs.

Yes, the Cubs will not be an official partner with StubHub going forward, but the implications of that decision are somewhat unclear. I’ve done a little digging, and it appears that the biggest beef teams like the Angels, Yankees and Cubs have with the StubHub agreement is the fact that it allowed their tickets to unattractive games to be available for mere dollars, which (1) harms the brand, and (2) makes folks less likely to buy tickets in the primary market (i.e., from the team). Why pay $80 in January for a June game when you can wait until June, and possibly end up paying just $15 on StubHub?

We’ll see how this actually plays out, and I expect quite a few articles on this over the coming days. Will the Cubs align with another reseller like Ticketmaster, and impose artificial ticket price floors? Will the Cubs instead try to become their own secondary ticket market seller (in which they would obviously impose floors, which could theoretically be set at face value)? Will the Cubs simply try to negotiate a floor pricing scheme or better rates with StubHub?

The upshot here is that the Cubs must believe the StubHub deal, as it was constructed, was having a negative impact on the market for their tickets (that is to say, their ability to keep prices at the level they would like), and will now seek out a way to better maximize (or simply protect) the revenues associated with ticket sales.

Can’t really blame the Cubs for taking this route, if they believe they can make more money going at it without StubHub. At the same time, folks who’ve become accustomed to picking up late-season tickets on the cheap are probably going to be unhappy with how this shakes out.

We’ll just have to see what happens.

  • Steve

    That’s why they invented Craigslist.

  • CubsFanBob

    The setup to sell tickets from your season account to stubhub could be far more streamlined. It’s painful putting up a whole season one game at a time from your account to stubhub.

  • Nate Corbitt

    Not gonna lie. I used StubHub this July when I was in Illinois from North Carolina visiting family. No way was I going to pay $20-$30 a piece for upper level seats, when I could get them for $8 a pop. Not for a Cubs/Diamondbacks game, especially.

  • cdncubfan

    This is really unfortunate news. My wife and I have been down to Chicago twice in the last two ears and we used Stubhub for tickets. It was a great way to stretch a few bucks and enjoy as many games as possible while there.

    That said, I’ll go back and pay scalper prices or box office prices if I have to. It’s just going to eat into the rest of the money we bring. Maybe spend less eating out or less on a hotel.

  • Matty Ice

    Put a better product on the field and they wouldn’t have to worry about super cheap tickets

    • When the Music’s Over

      This is perfectly stated, and what I either flat out stay or allude to all the time as my issue with the rebuilding process. The Cubs want to lose on purpose by serving their fans an awful product and save money in the process, but they continue to want their loyal fans to pay tip top tier prices for this shit product. It’s fan loyalty abuse in the worst way possible.

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    Cubs will still want to sell their $8.00 beers & overpriced food & t-shirts so I doubt a minimum or floor pricing structure will be established. From what I’ve read ( Phil Rogers) & what I’ve heard from friends who have season tix a lot of long time season ticket holders have not renewed. They are being offered improved seat locations where renewals were cancelled.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    I am PO’d at the Cubs organization right now. I’m a die hard, and love them to death, but for the product they have on the field currently they have no damn right too impose ticket price floor. If they put one of the 3 shittiest products on the field in all of baseball I shouldn’t have to pay more then a couple bucks to see a game at wrigley.

    • Dustin S

      Agree with you. I’m fine with the rebuilding plan on the field. But I haven’t been very happy with their moves off the field lately. The Cubs Convention/Sheraton mess (I’m not going this year because of that), now opting out of StubHub which is an indirect artificial increase in ticket prices far beyond any very minor face value cuts this year to premium games. Seems BS for them to care what happens to tickets after they have their face value money. In the end the fans get screwed too if there’s a game they can’t go to and they can’t resell their tickets at all because of a floor. For example, games in July when it’s 100 degrees out. A floor isn’t going to prevent reselling, Wrigley will just be less filled than the 2nd half of last season now because those tickets that sold for $10 last year won’t sell at all this year.

      Last year I ordered my tickets the day they went on-sale, so I paid face value for tickets I could have had for far less later on. This news just makes me more likely to work around to get deals and avoid dealing with them directly from here on.

      • MichiganGoat

        You can still sell and buy tickets at StubHub (at least that what I’m understanding) its just that the Cubs will not be affiliated with the site which might only mean it is not as easy to get you tickets as it was before, but you can still get them from any number of vendors including StubHub. I’m not seeing anything that says you can’t buy and sell tickets through StubHub.

  • Eric

    all I see happening is even more empty seats in august/sep when the Cubs are bad. So it will look even more barren at Wrigley at the end of the year. Which IMO, hurts the brand more than cheap tickets.

  • Matty V

    I guess I’m not sure what the implications are for this decision. If I have tickets to a June game and can’t go, does that mean I no longer can sell them on StubHub, or is this referring to a partnership that the Cubs had with StubHub to sell their own unsold tickets?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      There isn’t an answer yet. It is likely that you’ll still be able to use StubHub in some fashion, but it won’t be officially partnered with the Cubs (which could reduce your market for those tickets). Like I said in the piece, there are a lot of ways this could play out.

    • freakazeek

      You will for sure be able to sell and buy tickets on StubHub. It’s just not going to send any money to MLB or the Cubs. Look at the Bears or Bulls, they aren’t partnered with StubHub but there are plenty of tickets available to their games on StubHub always.

  • OlderStyle

    Harming their brand? 101 loss seasons might have more to do with that.

  • Miks87

    One of the best moves the Rickett family has done. He’s protecting not only himself, but his beloved season ticket holders.

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      Miks87: I could careless about Ricketts at this point. I don’t have any sympathy for Billionaires who sit on a mountain of cash and puts out a trash product and doesn’t cut ticket prices or do much of anything to help the fans out

      • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

        Can we please just get through one god damn article without having to read this garbage?

        We get it – you hate the Cubs right now and will be their biggest cheerleader when they are good. Congratulations. Now STOP POSTING THAT OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER.

        Ya Fair-Weather Frances.

        • cubsnivy56

          Amen!

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    Save your hard earned money & invest in a better / larger HD TV and subscribe to MLB network where you can watch the teams who have established players playing ” Major ” league caliber baseball – not the second rate ” on the cheap ” has beens & never were” players on this Cub roster.

  • MightyBear

    My guess is the Cubs are going to start their own secondary market and I don’t think its because of the low prices of tickets when the team does poorly, I believe it is because of the lucrative amounts of money they can make when the team actually starts winning and all the folks on here bad mouthing Theo and Ricketts shell out a bunch of money to go to games and tell everybody how they were big Ricketts/Epstein supporters all along.

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      I’ll be a Ricketts fan when he puts out a contending product. When they do that I won’t have any problem with them charging high ticket prices

      • BT

        there’s a term for that. It’s called bandwagon jumper.

        • Pat

          I’d go with “discerning consumer”, but whatever. Just don’t kid yourself that willingness to spend good money on a bad product makes someone a better fan.

    • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

      YES!

  • JulioZuleta

    This whole relationship between MLB and StubHub is a little iffy. So the teams profit off of selling the ticket to me, and then profit when I put it on StubHub? I know the risk to them is the guy who buys from me not buying from them instead, but I’m not a fan of them double dipping off the same ticket. I wonder what profit they make on the tickets that sell for way over face value. Glad the Cubs opted out.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Eh, I wouldn’t go thinking this is about the Cubs being altruistic – it likely means they think that, when combining the price impact to the primary market (i.e., if there is no more $1 StubHub ticket, they’ll likely sell more face value tickets originally), and their own efforts to double-dip (I can’t see them abandoning the secondary market altogether), they can do better financially than with StubHub.

      • JulioZuleta

        Yeah, I don’t think they opted out for moral reasons, I’m just glad they did in general. Whole thing seems a little off and the fact that they opted out obviously means they think they can make more some other way. If that other way happens to sever ties between themselves and legalized scalpers (StubHub), I’m all for it. (disclaimer: frequent StubHub customer)

    • CubsFanBob

      Only thing stubhub has going for it is name recognition really. They have came along way since Ebay bought them.

  • Austin

    Maybe Theo and Co really want to look like a small market team since the budget is appearing that way. Look at the rays and a’s…their stadiums are empty. You have to keep a quality team on the field in order for fans to pay top dollar to come to a game. I’m not disagreeing with his rebuilding strategy, however, this makes you scratch your head and wonder why they would do this at the current time. 100 loss seasons do not amount to expensive tickets. It seems the administration is taking advantage of us fans and it’s a shame. Would you rather have a filled stadium cheering for your team at fair ticket prices (revenue from concessions) or 1/2 filled but still making money with a weak atmosphere?

  • Ted

    An owner who only cares about winning

  • Jon

    Last year was the first year I didn’t buy tickets via the season ticket waiting list, Cubs Club Marquee plans or via the Cubs website. The product was bad last year, the product is going to bad this year and management will not commit in the slightest manner when the product will be better. I have no reason to commit dollars to premium pricing for the Cubs for a bad product. I can’t agree with Brett; I would not be satisfied with a .500 team in the 2014 season. I’ll continue to spend dollars attending Cubs charity events so those dollars go to good causes; however, paying the prices the Cubs are looking for isn’t something I will take part in for the 2013 season.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      (Just as a “for what it’s worth,” I wasn’t saying I’d be satisfied with a .500 team in 2014 – I just think that, given the trajectory, that’s a realistic time line on .500.)

      • Jon

        Sorry about the misrepresentation of your thought

      • Serious Cubs Fan

        To be honest. Unless the Cubs get 1 or 2 major free agents next offseason, then I don’t even see the cubs being .500. But to hard to predict, just unlikely in my opinion

  • John

    I think mightybear is correct. Stubhub takes a ton of money out of the equation by charging both the buyer and the seller a fee for the transaction. If the Cubs’ could keep some of that it would be a win for them.

    I was also talking to a ticket rep at the recent season ticket relocation event and he told me that the Stubhub fee structure for volume users actually encourages prices to nosedive. Basically if you have more than xxx transactions your fee rates go down no matter how low you price those tickets. To reap the benefits of the lower rates scalpers slash their prices below what they normally would and since it’s an open market everybody else has to lower their prices too. Is this the only reason for $1 tickets at the end of the season? Probably not but it was a dynamic I wasn’t aware of.

    He also talked about how the Bears and the Bulls already have their own secondary market and was keen on whether or not anyone in our group knew that and used it. So this comes as no surprise at all.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That’s fascinating stuff, John. Thanks for adding that.

    • Eric

      so it’s like the Cubs trying to ditch “feebay” as the middle man. It’s a possible positive spin on the story. We’ll see.

    • MightyBear

      I think mightybear is correct.

      That’s the first time anyone has posted that sentence. John you may be my new best friend. I pass out these pearls of wisdom free of charge and what do I get in return? Sarcasm dripping with disdain. LOL

  • Jeff

    Maybe the cubs didn’t like the cut they were getting off the ticket sales and still want to renegotiate.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Mentioned that as a possibility as well.

  • Cubbies4Life

    Well, crap. I don’t live in Chicago. I only get to go to one or two games at Wrigley each season. Usually during May, June, or July. I don’t use Stub Hub to get cheap end-of-season tickets, I use it to get good seats and get them early. When I go to Chicago, I like to know that I have good tickets in my hands, and I don’t mind paying a pretty hefty price for them. So… what am I supposed to do now? How do I buy tickets from season ticket holders? I’m bummed…

    • MightyBear

      You’ll be able to buy tickets if you need them. Believe me on this one.

  • Chris

    The Cubs have already received their face value money from the ticket purchasers. If they decide to sell the tickets and can only get $2 a piece for a $30 ticket, that’s not a loss to the Cubs. I get that this hurts their brand, but so does gutting the major league team in favor of prospects. This might be a shortsighted move to make. I used to be a regular visitor to Wrigley, until life happened and made it harder to go to many games. And then when they became bad, it became easier not to go to games. Now I don’t really miss it much, and I enjoy watching on television. I’m sure I’m not the only one. HD TV works pretty good, even for baseball.

    • BN”Legs:

      The way that it hurts the Cubs is that if there tickets on Stubhub that are less expensive than what can be bought through Cubs.com or at the Wrigley Field Ticket Office, then the Cubs are losing money. It doesn’t matter that the ticket on Stubhub was already bought and is being resold. The fact that someone can by a cheaper alternative than what the Cubs are selling is the issue.

      Also, as already mentioned, if the Cubs can control the secondary market, they can not only put a floor on the price of tickets but they can also collect the additional fees that Stubhub currently collects.

      There will still be tickets on Stubhub for sold out games and for the “good” seats. That will not change as Stubhub had Cubs tickets on it prior to the MLB deal in 2007. I’ve used STubhub since the early 2000’s to get tickets to sold out games and for premium seats.

      • Pat

        However, if you limit the secondary market to the point where season ticket holders are unable to sell the games they can’t make, you run the risk of losing those season sales.

        • BN”Legs

          There is a waiting list for season tickets that is 30,000+ long. There is no risk in losing the season ticket base. That fact of the matter is that it just makes the product look that much worse when you can buy a ticket on Stubhub for $1.

          True that you may lose some of the casual fans and the associated food/drink concessions but controlling the ticket prices for a team that is in demand (even with 101 loses) just makes more sense.

          • Pat

            Of the 100,000+ waiting list, there probably aren’t more than 10,000 who could actually afford the tickets if their number was called right now. And how many of them would pay if they weren’t allowed to sell off unused tickets?

  • http://windycitysportswonk.blogspot.com Myles

    I guarantee you this will directly impact the number of games I attend. I went to 4 games last year, 3 of them through StubHub and one through Cubs.com . I would not have attended any of those 3 games if I had to pay near-face on them. This is a terrible move and I’m incredibly, incredibly disappointed.

  • Carne Harris

    Ick. This is like flying with seats empty on an airplane instead of offering discounted rates. Not sure it’s a smart business model, but am sure it’s a slap in the face to fans of a 100-loss team who already pay some of the highest ticket prices in the league.

  • freakazeek

    There will still be PLENTY of Cubs tickets on StubHub, folks. It’s just whether they are “integrated” with StubHub or not. You’ll find lots of tickets there, for whatever prices sellers set. StubHub doesn’t have deals with NFL or NBA teams but obviously there are tons of tickets there. This opting out is only about integration and the revenue that is or isn’t shared between MLB/Cubs and StubHub.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Right, but the Cubs wouldn’t opt out unless they had a plan for getting many of those tickets off of StubHub – otherwise all they accomplished today was saying, “No thanks, we don’t want your money anymore, StubHub.”

      • freakazeek

        They can make it easier for sellers (season ticket holders) to sell elsewhere but they can’t stop ANYONE from selling anywhere — once a season ticket holder buys those seats, they are his or hers to do with as they like, including brokers. What they can do is make it easier for their season ticket holders to sell on another site, but not let them price them super cheaply. That’s what the Yankees are going to do, apparently. It’s not in any way “fan” friendly unless you define “fan” as “Front Office Executive.” It’s all about controlling the “market” price by artificially controlling the market.

        • DarthHater

          they can’t stop ANYONE from selling anywhere

          Lots of states have laws prohibiting and/or regulating ticket resales.

          Hey, Brett, you’re personally responsible for all the great legal advice your readers post here, right? :-P

  • Jon

    I don’t think anyone can blame the Cubs if the deal results in them saving or generating more revenue because any business would want to retain more of their share of the pie. The simple fact is that the only thing Cubs fans can go on right now is hope and hope doesn’t generate warm fuzzies after you spend an expensive day in Wrigley.

    • Ben (BG2383)

      It is about generating as much revenue as possible without killing the cow. If they piss enough people off the revenue will decrease. I bet the resellers outside the stadium are pleased!

      • mudge

        are we talking about a pie or a cow here? Are they killing a share of a cowpie?

  • Ben (BG2383)

    This is a bad idea. instead of a bunch of fans that bought cheap tickets in August and September those seats will be empty. I guarantee it will harm concession sales.

  • DarthHater

    No matter what the Cubs do, there will be 47 percent of the fans who think they are entitled to a decent baseball team . . . ;-)

  • Jim Gillmeister

    How will this impact season ticket holders who want to sell the games that they can’t attend?

  • Jon

    If the Cubs are going to be a bad product in 2013 and the availability of tickets at price ranges that reflect that type of product are unavailable then the Cubs need to start thinking about what added value they can bring to the consumer. I don’t even need to be a benefactor of that added value. Why not work it out where more players, how about almost all of them on game day are available to sign some balls or whatever for the kids, rather than the select few that make themselves available before a game. This could be done before or after the game. These guys lead a hectic schedule and try to balance family at the same time, but if costs can remain high they could deliver more to the kids without having to attend an event where the players are available at a cost where money goes to charity. Kids don’t understand how much these guys make to play a children’s game or how much their dad paid for tickets, fought to park the car etc., but I would be happy to pay for a lackluster product if I had a kid who had a more memorable time at the ballpark.

  • JR

    Hmm, I am worried that they will move to the Red Sox model, I’m struggling to remember how a friend was describing it. I think it’s that you are forced to sell any tickets you cannot use through the Red Sox dedicated reseller and if you were caught selling them elsewhere (or maybe it was at a markup?) they could take away your season tickets.

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