I’ve long believed the Cubs’ season ticket holder waiting list was a little less than accurate, whether it’s because it was inflated by redundant entries or even being fudged a little in order to drive perceived demand. Maybe it’s both, maybe it’s neither. In either case, actual demand appears to be waning as ticket prices continue to rise in spite of a diminishing product.
That obviously didn’t impact 2020 because fans weren’t able to attend games, but the Cubs produced MLB’s worst ROI last year in terms of game action relative to ticket cost. That tends to happen when you don’t score loads of runs and charge the highest prices in the league, a function of two decades of increases on standard seats and the addition of multiple premium club seats.
The increased cost and changing nature of attending games at Wrigley has priced a lot of longtime fans out, whether it’s from season tickets or even single games. That was the case for Cubs Insider, which had maintained season tickets for the last few seasons after taking them over from another fan who had moved to Phoenix and no longer saw value in them. We foolishly believed we’d be able to turn a profit or at least break even on the games we couldn’t attend, but that simply wasn’t the case and we opted to give them up.
Our decision was made easier by the knowledge that a decreased payroll and the potential for a “heavy restart” will most likely result in a less dynamic on-field product for at least one season and likely two or more. And that’s before you even consider the very likely possibility that attendance will be limited at best as the pandemic continues. Many others feel the same and I’ve heard from several people who only grudgingly opted to renew after wrestling with the choice for a while.
The threat of a season ticket holder exodus may be spurring efforts to retain customers, something that wouldn’t be necessary if the waiting list was truly six figures deep. To be fair, it’s probably just a matter of giving preferential treatment to existing customers, particularly those like us who had chosen to receive refunds on their tickets rather than having their 2020 deposits credited to 2021. So it could well be that pushing the deposit deadline back by 7 weeks is merely a courtesy.
“In a year that has brought significant uncertainty and change, we want to do our best to provide you with as much flexibility and time to plan for the 2021 season as possible,” read an email from our Cubs ticket rep. “With that in mind, we have extended today’s first payment deadline for your season tickets to 5 p.m. CST Friday, January 8, 2021. This date coincides with the second payment deadline of the 2021 Extended Payment Option shared in your invoice materials.
“Through the 2021 Extended Payment Option, 50% of your balance will now be due by January 8 (i.e., non-refundable first payment of 20% plus second payment of 30%), 25% of your balance will be due by February 5 and the remaining 25% of your balance will be due by March 5. You also have the option to submit your payment in full by January 8.”
Again, probably just a matter of the Cubs being sensitive to the financial difficulties caused by the pandemic and totally not additional evidence for my long-held belief that the waiting list isn’t quite as long as it’s been portrayed. The good news is that Theo Epstein, who said he’d become a Cubs season ticket holder now that he’s no longer with the organization, can slide right into our two seats pretty easily.