By Dave Wischnowsky-
(CBS) The Cubs are caught up in another tailspin – this time, eight straight losses and counting. They’re 22 games out of first place with 53 left to play. And at 43-66, they have a great shot at losing 100 games for the first time since Lyndon Johnson was in the Oval Office.
Yet a bleacher ticket for tonight’s game at Wrigley Field against the division-leading Reds still costs $52. Actually, make that $67.42 with the service charge and processing fee. Oh, and did I mention that Chris Volstad (0-8, 7.22 ERA) is on the mound, too?
But, hey, Dale Sveum says Cubs fans understand.
Or, at least, they should.
“They understand,” the Cubs’ first-year manager said on Wednesday after his team went winless on its road trip to L.A. and San Diego. “… It’s no mystery now about what’s going on with the team. They’re probably champing at the bit to see some of these guys.”
At these prices? Not really, Dale. Actually, not at all.
Heck, we could have driven to see them in Des Moines for cheaper. And considering that the Cubs are expected to field a Triple-A roster in big league pinstripes for the foreseeable future, I think the team should lower their ticket prices across the board in 2013.
If fans aren’t yet going to get a better brand of baseball at Wrigley Field, they deserve to at least get a cheaper brand until then.
The Chicago Tribune reported today that the current Cubs roster has 16 players who make less than $600,000 yet the team still has the third-highest average ticket prices in baseball.
“Fans are paying a lot of money to see a team that resembles the Royals, and ownership is making a lot of money by shedding payroll without lowering ticket prices,” Cubs beat writer Paul Sullivan wrote, adding how Sveum believes Cubs fans will continue to be supportive, knowing what the team is trying to accomplish long-term.
“The fans are obviously probably curious to look at all the guys that the hype is all about (with) our top prospects,” Sveum said about the likes of rookie hotshot Anthony Rizzo and recent call-ups Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters, both former first-round draft picks.
And sure they are. But, again, fans shouldn’t have to pay the Cubs’ current price of admission to do so.
Now, I understand of course, that the 2012 ticket prices were determined before the season (although the franchise is now using “flex pricing,” although it seems to generally flex more expensive rather than less.) And I also understand that when it comes to attendance, it’s Sveum’s duty to toe the company line. But I doubt that if the Cubs manager wasn’t being paid to be at Wrigley tonight he would pay the Cubs to be there.
This season, I purchased a nine-game ticket package for Cubs games, just as I have for the past several years. With experience, I’ve learned when I can’t attend a game myself bleacher tickets are generally easier to sell to friends than others. This season, a pair of bleachers set me back $820.09, for an average of $45.56 per game.
Now, even in this abysmal Cubs campaign, I’ve still been able to sell my unused tickets without much problem. However, I’ve also done so at steep discounts. That’s largely because I simply don’t think the tickets are worth what the Cubs made me pay for them, and I don’t feel right asking a friend to shell out the same.
Come 2013, I also don’t expect the Cubs to be much better than they are now, if any better at all. Like most fans, I do understand what Theo Epstein is trying to do by stripping the ballclub down to its bones before (hopefully) beefing it back up over time.
I’m supportive of that mission. But the Cubs shouldn’t expect me – or anyone else – to support it by paying Chicago-style prices to watch Kansas City-style baseball.
I respect that the Cubs have been honest with fans about how they’re not trying to win right now. But now it’s time for the Cubs to respect fans and be honest about the true value of their tickets.
So, cut the prices for 2013, Theo. The fans deserve it.
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com. Follow him on Twitter @wischlist and read more of his CBS Chicago blog entries here.