It’s an absolutely gorgeous in Chicago today. It’s so nice that when our son said he wished he had a Little League game today, my wife and I said that we would see about getting Cubs tickets for tonight’s game against the Rockies. So where should I go look for tickets? Should I buy them from the Cubs themselves or look on the secondary market? The secondary market, of course, means StubHub, the partner for most Major League Baseball teams for reselling tickets. Here’s how the Chicago Tribune puts it (Baseball teams get dynamic with ticket pricing, May 12).
Teams deal with StubHub because the online reseller provides a trusted outlet for season ticket holders to dispose of tickets to games they don’t attend. Buyers also have confidence that tickets on StubHub are not counterfeit.
But the first signs of backlash against StubHub appeared in the past offseason, when MLB renewed its five-year agreement with the website.
Two teams, the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels, opted out of the partnership to form their own ticket exchanges with Ticketmaster because they wanted more control over pricing on the secondary market, said Bob Bowman, CEO of MLB Advanced Media.
StubHub spokesman Glenn Lehrman was more blunt: “There’s one clear reason why those teams are not using StubHub. They did not like to see tickets resold below face value. We let the market dictate prices.”
The Cubs also considered opting out. Team officials were unhappy after some of their tickets were listed on StubHub for less than a $1, not including fees, for the team’s final three home games last season. In 2012, the Cubs lost more than 100 games for the first time since 1966.
To address some of the league’s concerns, StubHub now includes fees in ticket listings. The cheapest baseball ticket on StubHub is $6, which includes commissions and a delivery fee.
The Cubs also are one of two teams that cut off StubHub sales six hours before game time, up from two hours in 2012. By ending sales on StubHub earlier, the Cubs presumably hope to sell more last-minute tickets.
We have posted about the Dodgers and the Evil Empire opting out of MLB’s deal with StubHub before. As I wrote then, I do not see how artificially setting a floor for aftermarket tickets is beneficial for season ticket holders. I went a bunch of Cubs games last season and, frankly, a buck might have been a little too rich for my blood by the time September rolled around. Pricing really low is the only way season ticket holders are going to be able to unload some tickets.
Forcing season ticket holders to sell on a tight deadline is also not particularly friendly for season ticket holders. If the game is in high demand, it doesn’t matter. They can ask for a premium and will likely be able to get it. If, however, it seems unlikely that the seats will be in demand, sellers likely need to discount more aggressively in order to move the tickets before the deadline. At 9:00AM, a seller has just four hours (instead of eight) to match with a buyer for a game that starts at 7:00PM.
Apparently, not many Cubs season ticket holders think that the Rockies are going to draw well. Sellers were offering four seats for a grand total of $40 when the Cubs were asking for $141.20 (including service fees) to sit in the same section.