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Cubs fighting back against ticket scalpers and other teams may follow their lead

Oct 25, 2012, 10:15 AM EDT


In an attempt to cut down on ticket scalping at Wrigley Field the Cubs have declined to renew around 1,000 season tickets belonging to 40 alleged scalpers.

According to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune the Cubs “worked with outside sources” to identify the season ticket holders who were scalping in bulk and “sent them letters Wednesday telling them their accounts have been revoked.”

Jon Greenberg of ESPN Chicago reports that many of the canceled accounts belonged to out-of-state residents identified as professional ticket sellers and “other big-market teams are plotting similar plans to oust scalpers from their season-ticket rolls.”

The waiting list for Cubs season tickets is 115,000 strong, so they’ll have no problem finding takers and Cubs vice president Julian Green stressed that “this is about getting as many season tickets in the hands of fans that are interested in and intend to enjoy Cubs baseball at Wrigley Field.”

Normally this is where I’d make some snide remark about how tough it is to enjoy a team that’s lost 101, 91, and 87 games during the past three seasons, but I actually think what the Cubs are doing here sounds like a good thing.

  1. Old Gator - Oct 25, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    I think the Grubs need a new marketing slogan. Forge some links with their promising future (guffaw) and cut ties with the miasma of futility that is their past, you know? How about borrowing a sound byte from the ever-rosy outlook of Deadhead Universe? I propose:

    Ball you for a ticket!

  2. darthicarus - Oct 25, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    I have absolutely no issues with this, and for all the stupid moves the Cubs have made in recent history this is a brilliant move by them. If all sports teams did this I would approve as well, screw the scalpers.

    • Marty - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:06 PM

      From a consumer standpoint, scalped tickets are much cheaper than the at the box for this losing Cubs team.

      They’re losing on unsold tickets and not all that concerned with fan access.

      • tashkalucy - Oct 25, 2012 at 9:06 PM


        One of the dumbest and funniest comments I’ve ever read – and amazing that the thumbs up are currently 8-1.

        Let me see if I’ve got this straight – scalpers have to sell tickets for less money they they pay for them. Golly, that means they’re losing money. So what did they do? They tried to renew their season tickets so they could lose money again next year.

        I’ll tell you, with your generation I can see why the US hass a $17 trillion debt that it can never repay, and no one concerns themselves with it – as if it won’t affect them and their lives.

        How dumb is dumb?

      • dadawg77 - Oct 26, 2012 at 1:40 PM

        tash, the cubs have a waiting list over 115K. Since the Cubs tickets are gold when the team does well and some games will always command a good price, scalpers would keep the season tickets even if they sold good number of games below face. Once you let the tickets go, you will never see that inventory again.

        Also, the Cubs run their own secondary market seller. If you eliminate inventory from your competition, you can raise your prices as supply is reduced.

  3. unlost1 - Oct 25, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    OK first of all, how can scalpers exist in Chicago if they are selling Cubs tickets?

  4. ptfu - Oct 25, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    Wrigley had a LOT of empty seats all season long. Clearly the existing scalpers are inefficient at identifying the right price points, marketing their product, etc. The Cubs might be horrible but the ivy is still green and the beer is still cold–a winning formula that’s worked for generations.

    So this Cubs move is brilliant: kick out the useless scalpers in favor of ones who might do a better job. Everybody wins: the Cubs have a better chance to fill the house, more people who want tickets can get them, and a few bona fide season ticket buyers are ecstatic.

    • drunkhistorian - Oct 25, 2012 at 10:50 AM

      It’s true, the scalpers usually stand right outside the L stop and try and take advantage of people just visiting. 3-4 times this year when I randomly wanted to go to a game, I’d start out by trying to get a cheap scalped ticket, and every time they asked for a higher price than the box office. Most of them refuse to negotiate too.

      • natslady - Oct 25, 2012 at 11:26 AM

        The Cubs have a ticket-resale table right across from Wrigley. There is a big sign. I had a ticket to sell because of a rained out game that (as a visitor) I couldn’t attend. So I asked a “local,” where are the scalpers? He pointed me to the table. I sold the $20 ticket at the table for $5, which was $5 more than I had before I sold it.

        The scalpers on Half Street are no more (or less) aggressive than the water vendors. As far as I’m concerned, they provide a good service in that you can get tickets without waiting in line, so to me it is reasonable that their price is a little higher than the box office, it’s a “convenience” fee because you went to the Park without a ticket in the first place, right? To my knowledge there has not been a problem with counterfeit tickets.

      • Marty - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:09 PM

        My experience was the opposite. $5-10 seats were common on many occasion. And with so many empty seats, any ticket got you access to a prime poached seat behind the plate.

  5. papalurchdxb - Oct 25, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    the Cubs are going to stop their tickets being sold on Stub/Scalp-Hub? Good move.

  6. gmenfan1982 - Oct 25, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    Teams/leagues/whoever should also make it illegal to sell tickets for more than face value on resale websites like stubhub, eBay, etc. Canada does it because if so many people being ripped off on hockey tickets.

    • gerryb323 - Oct 25, 2012 at 11:05 AM

      Teams/Leagues < Canada….so I'd guess you'd be asking "whoever" (read: the US government) to do this, right?

      And it's funny that fans want a ceiling on the stubhub prices while teams (Yankees) want a floor, ah free market economics!

      • gerryb323 - Oct 25, 2012 at 11:32 AM

        Not that I don’t agree with you that scalpers rip people off….

        It’s just that teams and leagues can’t make anything “illegal”.

        They can not allow stubhub to sell their tickets or at least not have direct agreements allowing stubhub to sell their tickets.

        But only governments can make things illegal.

      • thereisaparty - Oct 25, 2012 at 11:33 AM

        A ceiling on stubhub? Why? Inefficient pricing of tickets works both ways. Sorry if your demand for the ticket doesn’t match the market price.

  7. Gordon - Oct 25, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    I remember the good old days when the Cubs sold tickets to a Broker (i.e. scalper) that they own, then sold them above face value to fans.

    They didn’t have to share the revenue either. Pretty savvy move, until they got outed. I think that was all under Tribune ownership, not the current owners.

    • db105 - Oct 25, 2012 at 6:12 PM

      MLB has a contract with stubhub for season ticketholders to resell their tickets. Most MLB tickets are sold on stubhub are less than the box office price. After the 15% fee that stubhub charges the seller most sellers lose money on most games. The Cubs have to be careful for what they wish for. Without ticket resellers the team will have to sell the tickets themself.

  8. tcostant - Oct 25, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    How can MLB take money from Stubhub and have option like transferring your tickets from your season ticket accounts to stubhub; then act like this. I assume these season ticket owners pay their invoice on time, that is all the cubs should care about. With stubhub their job is harder than ever and the Cubs are being short sighted…

    • ncphilliesguy - Oct 25, 2012 at 11:30 AM

      I don’t agree with scalping tickets. However, it does seem hypocritical to be in “partnership” with StubHub (i.e. take StubHub’s money) and attempt to punish people who likely use StubHub to sell the tickets they have purchased. Just sayin’ :)

    • natslady - Oct 25, 2012 at 11:36 AM

      They want it both ways. If a season-ticket holder sells the ticket for above face value, fine. (And they take their cut if it’s sold on StubHub). But if the ticket is sold for LESS than face value, the team assumes that the buyer WOULD have bought a full-value ticket from the box office (or online) if not for the “artificial” competition from StubHub.

      This is not good reasoning. The person who got the cheap ticket might not have gone to the game AT ALL, depriving the team of revenue from concessions, etc.

      • gerryb323 - Oct 25, 2012 at 11:40 AM

        I agree. The market seems to set the prices whether the teams like it or not. I can go up to a Royals game for like $4 on a weeknight.

        Why? Because no one else is going!

        If I had to pay $20 for the ticket, I wouldn’t go either.

        Leave Stubhub alone! (credit to Len)

      • JB (the original) - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:39 PM

        Well, leave StubHub alone—after getting them to reduce their fees. 15% from the sell price, another ?% for the buyer, then another charge for the “convenience” of printing at home. Their gouging is almost right up there with Ticketbastard.

    • crash1582 - Oct 25, 2012 at 11:45 AM

      Ticket holders that actually show up to the game typically spend more than the value of the ticket on Food/Beverage/Jersey’s/Merchandise.. etc. So if somebody buys a ticket, and does not show up to spend money within the park, it is quite a loss for the team hosting the game.

  9. niubears - Oct 25, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    Cubs season ticket holders were making bank a few years ago. Not so much now.
    I know many season ticket holders who were making $400-$1000 PER GAME for some of their seats. They still went to all the games. Had 4 season tickets, used two of them and sold the other two.
    But that all stopped after they started to suck again.

  10. leeeroooyjeeenkiiins - Oct 25, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    Scalping Cubs tickets? Isn’t that about as intelligent as trying to make a profit by buying up all the DVD rewinders you can find and attempting to sell them at a premium?

  11. gmenfan1982 - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:18 PM

    I’m not necessity saying the government needs to make it illegal. MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA can only allow ticket resale through their own entities and only for the value of the ticket. It’s that simple. Each league controls their own ticket resale.

  12. heathater4lifeson - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    Ok they are going to get rid of one annoying aspect/personality of a baseball. Now, how do we do something about the annoying drunk dbags who are in your section?

  13. gmenfan1982 - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    The Winnipeg jets as a team only allows resale through their website and for face value to protect people from being ripped off. If it was possible to actually buy tickets straight from the source you wouldn’t get ripped off but it’s hard to get tix for big market teams which forces people to turn to stubhub. When everyone is selling the same seating tickets for the same inflated price you have no choice but to buy the ticket at that price or don’t go. I just think its common sense to make things fair and its hard for me to understand when people don’t get this concept. It’s as if people don’t want things to be fair for themselves either.

    • dadawg77 - Oct 26, 2012 at 1:49 PM

      One thing if you get a valid ticket,with no surprises like obstructed view no matter the price then you weren’t ripped off. You said the tickets were worth what you agreed to pay, you may not like that price but that is the market. If you were selling an asset wouldn’t it be the most fair for you to have the option to sell to the person who would pay the most for it?

  14. gmenfan1982 - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    Basically I just would like for people like myself and many others to be able to afford a reasonably priced ticket to go a game of our liking. Unfortunately not all of us can afford to pay twice the amount of a ticket plus parking, food and water to go to a sporting event.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:10 PM

      “Basically I just would like for people like myself and many others to be able to afford a reasonably priced ticket to go a game of our liking. Unfortunately not all of us can afford to pay twice the amount of a ticket plus parking, food and water to go to a sporting event.”

      I hear what you are saying 1982. In a perfect world…this would be the case.
      I just take issue when the Government steps in to dictate the goings on of a private business.
      I mean…isn’t this what is taking place in your example of the Hockey Tickets? Or did I missunderstand?

    • hansob - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:25 PM

      100,000 other people want the same thing for a Saturday night game, and hockey arenas don’t seat 100,000.

      I’d actually just prefer that the teams just price more to demand. They are getting closer than they were back in the 80’s and 90’s, when some baseball teams had 5 price levels, and sometimes didn’t differentiate the weekend prices from the weekday prices. But they are still selling the popular premium games at below market, and the games no one wants to see at above market prices.

    • thereisaparty - Oct 25, 2012 at 6:18 PM

      But if other people are willing to, then consider yourself lucky that the team doesn’t set its ticket prices to that level. Secondary markets in this case better match supply with demand.

  15. gmenfan1982 - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    There’s no difference between these scalpers ripping people off outside the stadium games and ripping people off on stubhub. It’s the same concept.

    • thereisaparty - Oct 25, 2012 at 6:21 PM

      How is this ripping people off? If the price offered is too much then that game does not provide that designated value/benefit to you. But it surely does to somebody. This is just efficient pricing of tickets.

  16. gmenfan1982 - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    Not to mention the fact that most of the time it’s actually slimey ticket agencies (scalpers) who buy up the regular price tickets and are the ones ripping people off on stubhub. Stubhub protects scalpers. It’s pretty much a form of legalized scalping.

    And for the fact that tons of people would like tickets and high prices thin out he ability for everyone to buy them, there’s always the idea of first come first serve. If tickets were more affordable and more people want them because of that, those who come first get them first.

    • thereisaparty - Oct 25, 2012 at 6:24 PM

      No one is getting ripped off. Each individual has a certain price he/she is willing to pay for the game. If the tickets being offered are too steep of a price, then other uses of that time/money are more valuable to the consumer. If he/she purchases said tickets, then the price must be equal to or less than the expected benefit/value of the consumer.

  17. dowhatifeellike - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    How does the worst franchise in MLB history have a waiting list of 115,000 for season tickets? Chicago must be an awfully strange place.

  18. gmenfan1982 - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    I believe it is law in Canada for the hockey ticket example I gave but it doesn’t have to be something the government does. The leagues themselves can create exclusive ticket resale websites that only allow the resale of tickets at face value.

  19. mindfulmarketingstrategies - Oct 25, 2012 at 2:26 PM

    regardless of the team’s record, it’s a good marketing strategy and good move for the real fans. (

  20. moondog7 - Oct 25, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    3 buddies and I went to a weeknight game at wrigley and got Tickets for a 1.50 each on stub hub. We sat like 10 rows away from the field 1st base side. The stub hub fee was more then the actual tickets. How is there a 115,000 season ticket waiting list. You can buy tickets to any game for cheap. These Season ticket list aren’t even comparable to the NFL like the bears and packer games. Good luck getting a ticket to one of those games for under 150 bucks. That is an actual season ticket list. Not these “sellouts” the cubs are having with half the stadium full.

  21. nachoman4444 - Oct 25, 2012 at 8:01 PM

    I’m a teacher that has been selling tickets on the side for years to help me get through college and now pay my bills. With a teaching salary take-home pay that is $400 under my mandatory expenses each month, I absolutely need the extra income from tickets to make it. I’ve spent years researching prices and sale info and have been able to amass several sets of season tickets and ways to get tickets at their cheapest. I see nothing wrong with being able to partake in a free market after having invested so much time and energy into this. There are times I sell for much greater than I bought for but also times I have to sell for much less. My asking price is always one of the lowest on the market.

    Also, I too have been on the other end of ticket sales. Living currently in Philadelphia, I’ve been able to sit in seats three or four rows off the field for the Phillies $10 apiece, whereas they would have cost me $60+ at the box. For the 76ers playoff series vs. the Bulls, I got two seats three rows off the court, behind the team benches, for two of the games at a $50/apiece pricepoint. I lived in Seattle for seven years and I know for a fact that no one would pay the $75 box office value for a lower level ticket to see the Mariners play, but being able to get those seats for $20 or so on the market made them a great value for me and my friends and we went and filled the park.

    The bottom line is that tickets are an investment. If I have the $5K to shell out for a season’s worth of tickets, I should be entitled to do so. There’s no guarantee that I’ll recoup that money. And remember, for those folks who end up with $250 tickets for $50, it’s those sellers you need to bank on to get those kinds of deals. The true scalper keeps his price sky high, looking for someone ignorant of the market value or not wanting to spend much time looking. But if he doesn’t find that, he’s forced to sell last minute, which makes the buyer the winner because he’ll go as low as he needs to to get his money. This, of course, upsets teams, because the more people find out about this, the more likely they are to turn to the secondary market for tickets than the team, especially for baseball, where no one is willing to pay $75 face for a game in April.

    Bottom line; more times than not, the public wins when tickets are priced at market value vs. box office value.only.

  22. oshizzle - Oct 26, 2012 at 5:57 PM

    Until this season, I lived two blocks from Wrigley for eight years. I probably went to 25+ games and had tickets beforehand for about three of them. It’s like buying scalped tickets before any other event: You have to wait until about ten minutes before the game to get a price. Nine of ten games I could get a price, and some games I got great seats–like right behind homeplate–for next to nothing. During the good years, tickets were harder to come by, but that’s the gonna be the same everywhere. Whoever said the Cubs are trying to boost their own secondary market it right. That is exactly what they are trying to do. As I fan I love the Cubs, but the teams always favor the almighty dollar over the interests of fans. Whoever tells you otherwise is a fool.

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