Friday, September 10, 2010

Cubs Season Tickets Are for Chumps

All things considered, I'd rather be staring at my TV.
Don't get me wrong (or do, it's up to you), I love Wrigley Field. But I can't go there 82 times a year (83 or 84 if you count the playoffs). I love the Cubs, but I don't really want to watch more than 5-10 games in person during any given season. I just have no incentive for ever investing in any season ticket plan. There have been some great posts lately over at Tales from Aisle 424 and ACB on the bigger picture of ticket sales, but I wanted to look at the issue of ticket sales from an individual perspective. From my view, season tickets are for chumps.

I want to rule out one segment of season-ticket holders from the chump equation: those enterprising individuals or . . . enterprises who, in periods of high demand, exploit other chumps on the secondary ticket market either for profit or to subsidize or completely pay for their own Cubs game attendance. When the Cubs are winning and people are willing to pay double or triple face value through online purchasing platforms happily and conveniently facilitated by the Cubs organization, owning season tickets is as much a business as it is a leisurely experience. Come playoff time, I imagine the potential for profit is absolutely outstanding.

But the people who actually go to the majority of Cubs' home games are suckers. It's just not worth the expense, and I don't understand why people are willing to spend so much money and time to watch the Cubs, even if they're good.

As I said, I do love Wrigley and the Cubs. I do enjoy going to games. But here are some elements of the Wrigley Experience that make visiting with regularity unimaginable for me.

The Wrigley Hassle
Getting there is inconvenient. Whether you drive and park or take the train, a sojourn to Wrigley consumes an entire day, even if you don't live in Indiana. For people who live within walking distance to the park or anywhere in the city, really, getting to Wrigley is easier than getting Ryan Theriot to swing at the first pitch. Even then, though, almost no one can expect attending a game to be less than a four-hour investment. Going to all 81 home games would take up two solid weeks of your year at the very least. For people outside the city it's more likely a 5- or 6-hour excursion, which would take up almost 21 days of their summer. To me, that's insane. Turning on my TV takes two seconds, and while I'm watching a game, I can get plenty of stuff done. Advantage: Home.

The Wrigley Price
My back-of-the-envelope calculations for the cost of a full season-ticket package, including the price of tickets, transportation, parking, concessions, and counseling, is an average of $10 million per person. The night-and-weekend packages cost roughly half that amount. Even if I could lower that expense into the low thousands, I still wouldn't do it. If I'm going to drive downtown and spend 20 hours a week someplace, I'm expecting them to pay me. Watching on TV only costs the price of a satellite subscription and whatever furniture I break during losses. Advantage: Home.

The Figley Wrans
Most of my times at Wrigley have been pleasant. Irate and/or drunken idiots comprise the underwhelming minority of people in attendance at Wrigley Field, but I'd imagine that over the course of an entire season you have more than a few blessed moments of baseball spoiled by slurred speech, spluttered spit, and spilled suds. Or people who just use too much alliteration. Either way, sometimes I'd much rather watch alone or with my friends, family, wife, and/or sons unconfined by the so-called friendliness. Advantage: Home.

The Wrigley Experience Playoff Edition
I know for a lot of people, the big payoff is the playoffs. The possibility of witnessing history, the foretold end of the Cubs' century-long death grip on futility, is enough to make the daily grind of Wrigley attendance more than worth it. Personally, I don't get it. I'm anxious enough watching the games at home listening to the dulcet tones of Dick Stockton (okay, that's a major plus on the Wrigley side). I don't need the added cardiac triggers of 40,000 agonizing screams every time a ground ball wends its way past a nervous infielder's glove. I know it would be thrilling to see in person, but I just don't have the constitution to brave my xenophobia through an epic fail with destiny on the line. Advantage: Home (however slight).

Maybe this makes me a bad fan. Maybe I'm jaded. Maybe I'm too old to be having this conversation with you on my lawn. (Get off!) But in my eyes, people paying thousands of dollars to watch the Cubs on a daily basis are getting robbed. And, in the long run, they very well may be enabling the Cubs' destructive addiction to losing.


  1. I enjoy watching at home for the most part. It'd be nicer if I had cable since more Cubs broadcasts are gravitating towards Comcast, but I also have Gameday free on my computer and Pat and Ron on the radio. No big deal for me. I do like to go to the ballpark but only when I can get cheap or paid-for-already tickets. Usually my school subsidizes upper deck seats for $10 each, so I can get myself and my son up to Wrigley for $20 + $20 in concessions + $15 eating at the Subway across the street + $7ish for the CTA day pass. It's an hour commute each way to the park even though I live in the city, so I get where you're coming from. I used to live in NW Indiana too and the South Shore is a bitch most of the time.

    Also, shouldn't there be just 81 home dates?

  2. Ha! I fail at math. Always had trouble dividing 162 in half. I'm with you, though. I love going to games. In small doses. If I could put the rest of my life on hold and go to all the games, I would, but it's just not realistic, even a night- and weekend-game package. I'd have to split the 13-game plans with someone to find the time to use all those tickets.

  3. Yeah, I try to keep the costs down. That's why we eat at Subway even though I hate it, it's the cheapest solution that's not McDonald's close enough to the park. Also why I never drink beer in the ballpark (it's crap beer anyway) and I limit the amount of soda/cotton candy/soft serve we get. Those helmet cups for the soft serve are kinda cute though.

  4. What are you guys talking about this week on the Wrigley Radio talk thingy?

  5. A little about attendance, season tickets in general, the Zambrano outlook, the fact that Castro is awesome and Quade is not. The usual.

  6. Sounds like a blast. Personally I think they should just keep Z and have him be a workhorse starter since Silva and Wells aren't exactly superstars anyway, and just let his contract run out, but I wouldn't be surprised if Hendry pulled a Silva-for-MB trade out of his ass. Sad times.

  7. And it's more likely than not that the Cubs would wind up on the losing end of that trade. Hendry is usually good at trades, but I don't think he'd ever land someone who brings more value than Zambrano.


Spill it.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.