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Thursday, July 9

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Cubs Thu Oct 18 2012

Cubs Lower Prices, But Revenues Will Rise

Cubs_200.pngLowering ticket prices makes for great press. It's even better after a losing season. Especially one of the 100-loss variety. It shows that you respect the fans, almost functioning as an apology to everyone who showed up to watch (or didn't watch).

But if you think the Cubs are sacrificing money for the sake of the fan base, you're being quite naive. Sure, the average season ticket price will be dropping from $50.06 to $48.96, but the numbers are a bit more complex.

The Cubs have a horribly confusing pricing structure that ranks every game into a five-tiered system based on opponent, day of the week, and time of the year. The rates for a Wednesday afternoon game against the Pirates in April are going to be far more affordable than a Saturday afternoon game against the Cardinals in July. It makes sense, but that doesn't even get into the price deviations for different sections of the ballpark.

It's hard to blame the team for setting up a system like that. They're doing their best to match ticket prices with potential demand on all games. Maximizing profits without upsetting folks that want to come to the ballpark. It's just not very user friendly.

Going a step further, the team plans on expanding the dynamic pricing software it used on just the bleacher seats this past season to the entire stadium. Dynamic pricing is a system teams use that changes ticket prices in real time based on important factors such as team records, weather, section demand, pitching matchups, etc. It's the latest and most technologically advanced way that organizations are trying to minimize the profits made by people who buy and resell tickets at a higher price. Teams rarely let dynamically priced seats fall below season ticket prices so as to not undercut people who need to get rid of their seats for one reason or another, so don't plan on getting 50-cent tickets straight off the Cubs website.

Are average ticket prices down? Sure. Are there far more "Bronze" games than "Marquee" games next year, offering more opportunities for folks to come out and see a bad baseball team at a lower cost? Absolutely. But the prices for the games that are the cheapest have actually risen by as much as $6 in certain portions of the ballpark. And to top it all off, there's the matter of the addition of seats behind home plate, which don't figure into the price averages because they haven't been built yet.

I guess we should be thankful that ticket prices aren't rising after a 100-loss season, especially when the organization isn't shy about the probability of next year's team being just as bad. But color me skeptical when the savings aren't clear cut for Joe Baseball Fan. Maybe this price-lowering trend will continue after the Cubs sign the inevitable multi-billion dollar television deal when their contract expires in the next few years.

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