You’ve probably heard from friends, or you received it yourself: invoices for 2022 Cubs season tickets went out this week.
As detailed by Al Yellon at Bleed Cubbie Blue, prices for 2022 are coming down ever-so-slightly – about a 2% drop in the bleachers, and that figures to be fairly close to the average across the park. Some areas will see different levels of change than others, and an analysis by a BCB reader suggests the average is indeed in that 2 to 3% range.
I don’t really have much to say about the scope of the price reduction – it’s really more flat than anything, and, coming off a year like the Cubs just had (with so much uncertainty ahead), it just seems like the bare minimum logical move. I did not expect a massive drop, because you never expect a massive drop. And I certainly didn’t expect an increase. So there you go.
More general thoughts, though, since we’re on the topic …
An organization’s season ticket holder base is critical to its revenue picture – both the size and also the stability – and nowhere has that been more true than in Chicago with the Cubs. For an organization that says it makes upwards of 70% of its revenue from day-of-game, having a huge base of guaranteed ticket buys game after game creates quite a floor.
Eventually the market dictates maneuverings on price (and perks), and I suppose we’ll see what happens with season ticket renewals and new sign-ups in the year or two ahead. Initial 20% deposits this time around are due by November 18. Anecdotally, you don’t have to stretch far to find a friend who is giving up her tickets this offseason, or one who is letting himself fall off the waiting list when he gets the call.
Here’s the reality that the Cubs are facing: so much of the allure of having season tickets (or desperately trying to get them) was about making sure you had access to postseason tickets for when the Cubs finally did the thing. Well, they did it. Five years ago. Now, outside of the specialness of Wrigley Field (which I do mean sincerely), there is not a whole lot else to artificially buoy interest. Nothing lifts the season ticket holder floor quite like 108 years did.
In other words, consistent competitiveness on the field is what will have to be the driving force behind massive ticket buys (and TV ratings).
The Cubs know this. Drop your jokes, I understand, but they are not idiots. The organization will very much want to compete in 2022 and 2023 even for purely cynical reasons! Does that mean they’ll book up multiple nine-figure, six-year contracts in a single offseason? No. In a world where there will always be a budget, that’s not even a good idea for baseball operations. But does that mean they absolutely need to approach this offseason trying to build a contender – at least for the NL Central – for 2022? Yes. And I have no doubt they feel that impetus, too, as it relates to business. This idea that the Cubs can forever sit back and just collect cash from huge attendance even when the team stinks is simply not true. Or did you not see the stands in August and September?