stubhub-logoYou may recall a dust-up earlier this offseason involving the Chicago Cubs and ticket reselling market, StubHub. At issue was the Cubs’ belief that the rock bottom prices on tickets that appeared late in the year (sometimes as low as $1) were costing them money. Although those ultra cheap tickets had already been purchased at face value from the Cubs – usually by season ticket holders – the fact that they were available drove down the demand for face value tickets. That included pre-season sales – if you know cheap tickets will be available on StubHub eventually, why buy them at face value now? – and, potentially, season ticket sales. For a few days, it looked like the Cubs would no longer be a partner with StubHub, which would probably be a pain in the ass for resellers (and secondary market buyers, potentially).

The issue was resolved by way of an agreement between the Cubs and StubHub, the details of which are now made explicit in an email StubHub sent to folks yesterday. In essence, here are the changes, clearly designed to destroy the crazy-super-cheap secondary ticket market:

  • A minimum listing price of $3, which is a touch higher than you could have previously listed.
  • Up front fees to buyers including a 10% “service” fee and a $2 “delivery” fee.
  • Taken together, that means the lowest price a buyer will see is $5.30 – a dramatic increase from the $1 they could have seen last year (even though they still would have been hit with fees when they completed their purchase).
  • An additional “transfer” fee for sellers, in the amount of $1.50. That comes before StubHub takes its revenue share. They really make sure they get theirs, eh? So, if you list your ticket for $3, you’re going to receive just 85% of $1.50 for your trouble (while your buyer will be paying $5.30). Once again, the incentive to list super cheap tickets is dramatically reduced.
  • The sale of Cubs tickets on StubHub ends six hours before the game starts. Prices drop rapidly just before game time, as sellers scramble to get whatever they can. The time restriction will reduce some of that (but only some, as now the scramble will simply occur six hours earlier).

Here’s the full body of the email:

We have some important news to share with you about selling your Chicago Cubs tickets for the upcoming season. We recently renewed our partnership with Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM), and we’re ready for you to list your 2013 Cubs tickets. But there are some changes you need to know about.

The Chicago Cubs are one of the 27 MLB teams that StubHub will be integrated with in 2013, which means we’ll have a direct link between our site and the teams’ ticketing systems.

MLB transfer fee and minimum list price

As always, it’s free to list tickets on StubHub. When your Cubs tickets sell, there’s a new MLB transfer fee of $1.50 per ticket. When you list your tickets for sale, you’ll see the MLB transfer fee as a separate line item when you set your ticket price. Here’s how it will work: If you list a ticket for $50.00, $1.50 will go to the MLB transfer fee, and your payment will be calculated from the remaining $48.50. So in this case, your payment will be $41.23, which is 85% of $48.50.

You may want to price some of your tickets low, but there is a minimum list price of $3.00 per ticket for all home games for MLB Integrated Teams.

Sale end time change

While StubHub continues to support sales as close to event time as possible, the Cubs have elected to end StubHub sales 6 hours before game time.

Encouraging more MLB ticket buyers

What the buyer sees is what the buyer pays: Starting this year, when buyers check out the selection of tickets for an MLB event, they’ll see all the fees included in the ticket prices. Before this change, buyers had service and delivery fees that they didn’t see until right before they were ready to purchase, which came as an unpleasant surprise to many buyers. We did extensive testing of this model over the past several months to get it right and make sure it leads to better ticket sales and happier customers.

Keep in mind, including these fees up front will affect the overall price the buyer sees for your tickets on the event page, but it won’t affect your payout.

Buyer ticket delivery: The delivery fee for MLB games will be $2.00 per ticket. Like the service fee, the delivery fee will be included in the ticket price on the event page.

Here’s how it will work: A seller who sets a per-ticket price of $50.00 will see that listing on the event page inclusive of the service and delivery fees. So the price on the event page will be $57.00, which includes the ticket price ($50), the buyer service fee ($5) and buyer delivery fee ($2). Don’t forget to keep this in mind when pricing your tickets and looking for them on the event page.

We’re looking forward to a great 2013 MLB season. Please reach out to us if you have any questions.

Sincerely, StubHub Customer Service

  • JK

    We will not allow for the “free market trade” of tickets for our crappy product. I wonder how Senior Ricketts feels about this slap in the face to his principles?

    • DarthHater

      I strongly suspect that he feels the principle of maximizing profit trumps all other principles…

  • DarthHater

    Oh, joy. Another day of discussion of ticket resales . . .

  • Matt

    Pain in the ass for losing Stubhub? No, they would just do what the Yankees did and switch providers. As much as fans love it, stubhub is horrible for teams.

    • Brett

      Ticketmaster implemented many of the same things for the Yankees.

      • Matt

        Yes, because of the issues that were caused.

    • EJF174

      Stubhub is horrible for horrible teams.

  • Kevin

    Anything the Cubs do to maximize thier revenue stream is good overall. In the end additional revenue will allow more funds to field a more competitive team. We all know some of the pre Ricketts contracts (rooftops, Comcast tv, etc…..) are not exactly in the Cubs favor. I’m not overly impressed with Crane Kenney as he Co-founded Comcast SportsNet Chicago, the Cubs cable partner, with Jerry Reinsdorf in 2003 and has served on the Board of Directors since its formation. Was this the best tv contract available ifor the Cubs n 2003?

  • Emily

    This issue always divides my loyalties. I know more money for the team is good, but my bleeding-heart nonprofit job means I have to scrimp and save all year for my one annual super expensive, slightly crappy Cubs ticket. I used to hope that the combination of high prices and a crappy team would eventually lead to a drop-off in attendance, leading to a change in pricing structure and added pressure to do better at building the team up. Obviously now with Theo & Co., I feel better about overpaying because I trust them and their vision more than anything I’ve seen in that front office before.

    However, in college I wrote an anthropology paper about the history of baseball as a reflection of both race and class issues in the US, and I just can’t help but be a little sad about its progression from a game for the lower class (a release from the daily grind, mostly because tickets were financially accessible for most people) to a game for the middle (arguably, upper-middle) class. With other entertainment outlets so abundant today, and increasingly available as income/assets increase, I wonder if baseball as a whole is suffering from a lack of attention because it’s pricing itself into a tier where it has a lot more entertainment to compete with. I don’t know as much about other sports, I’m sure NFL or NBA tickets are expensive too. But I also can watch at least a couple of NFL games each week without having to pay for cable, and that’s not true for the MLB (without living in Chicago, or any other team’s home city).

    End ramble.

    • coal

      Going to a game at Wrigley with a family is cheaper than going to a movie. No, not for the Cardinals or Sox games, but for any other game, decent 500-level seats are available for less than the price of movie tickets. Food is no cheaper at a theatre, and the Cubs let you bring in snacks and sealed non-alcoholoic drinks.

      I’m sure prices have gone up over the last 10 years, but so have prices for just about everything (parking meters, gas, groceries, bus fare, haircuts, etc.)

      Blame the Cubs for sucking, but please don’t make this argument. It’s just not true.

      • Emily

        The average cost of a movie ticket has risen 40% in the past decade. The average cost of the cheapest Cubs ticket has risen 140% in the same time period. (And for stuff like the bleachers, it’s more than 300%. Not that I would ever pay what it costs to sit in the bleachers now.)

        • Dougy D

          That’s why I only go to minor league games now.

        • Hansman1982

          How much has the minimum salary increased? How much has the average salary increased?

        • Hansman1982

          Hell how much has a movie ticket gone up? Gasoline? Milk, bread, eggs?

          Over a ten year period you would expect some inflation in prices. Heck you’d expect a 34% increase at standard inflation rates.

          • Zac

            40% rise on ticket prices. Read what you’re responding to please.

  • ibcnu2222 (John)

    They need to have a maximum list price. I will never understand why scalping is OK on stubhub.

    • J. Edwards

      Because Stub Hub has an economic incentive to get the highest price. The “service” fee is a percentage of the ticket price. And 10% of $50 is less than 10% of $500.

      Stub Hub loves scalpers.

      I bet the Cubs wish they could get the difference. I won’t be surprised if/when we see teams sell their own seats auction-style.

  • Robert

    When I lived in the area I would always just walk over to Murphy’s after the first inning and get tickets from one of the “local independent sales reps” at discount prices.

  • Jonathan

    There is another way the Cubs can raise the ticket prices onthe secondary market, winning. Secondary markets are truly supply and demand as opposed to official sales. Win and demand increases as do the prices. Otherwise all this does is risk more empty seats by creating prices above demand level and possibly drive secondary sales to other less regulated venues.

  • Smackydoodle

    When the team was as awful as they were in 2012, I went to about 20+ games because I got the tix cheap. They got my food money, I bought a memorabilia item once, I took visiting family to the games… none of that revenue would have happened if I had to pay near face value to see a minor league team. Granted my $30 per game alone isn’t much, but multiply that by the amount of people who did similar things over the course of the season it adds up. Now they want to risk getting nothing. The stands were already pretty empty last season, keep making it harder on people and you’ll look like the White Sox. I guess they are optimistic the team won’t suck much longer….

  • Saving Grace

    I live in NHL and a couple of us figured out a way to get good to great seats at Fenway Park for next to nothing.
    It’s impossible to get tickets there with an endless sell out streak and the tourist factor.
    Scampers won’t even come down in price after game starts because it would deflate value.
    So we figured out we could buy standing room only tickets and then check stub hub or ace tickets when we get in and just go down to unsold seats.
    We’ve had amazing seats every time and no hassles about moving.
    With the Cubs ending sales six hours before the Cubs just made it easier to figure out where you want to sit
    It’s a great way to enjoy the game on the cheap.
    And trust me there’s nothing cheap about a game at Fenway.

    • Tom A.

      Drat — Why did you share that ? Now there will be multiple people fighting for unsold seats during the game.

  • Darian

    I’m not sure it will help, but anything that eliminates the scalpers on the street is a good thing. Round them all up, lock them in a shipping container, dump it in the lake, and listen to them scream towards a slow and painful death. Those guys – particularly the ones on Addison between the El station and Sheffield – are the dregs of humanity, and anything I can do to hasten their demise would be a pleasure.