The Cubs decided Wednesday to crack down on season ticket holders who purchase tickets for the sole purpose of reselling them at a higher profit.
While I’m all for the idea of maintaining the face value of tickets to all types of events, the Cubs could have done one better and terminated their partnership—or at least voiced their intention to work with Major League Baseball towards dissolving their partnership—with world-class ticket scalper StubHub. I understand the reasoning behind the Cubs decision to send termination notices to the 45 or so season ticket holders they did: they were people who possessed season tickets to further their own private scalping businesses. But make no mistake, the reselling of tickets at a price higher than face value is nothing more than scalping, whether it’s the homeless looking guy standing outside Wrigley Field with a sign that reads “I need tickets” (we all know what that REALLY means: “I HAVE tickets”) or a multi-million dollar institution that operates on the belief it is providing a service to fans.
For sports fans, the biggest obstacle they’ve encountered over the last 20 years is the astronomical inflation surrounding professional sporting events. In 1989, my father and I attended a Cubs game at Wrigley Field and sat in the wildly popular bleacher section. Our tickets were $5 apiece. Today, bleacher tickets at Wrigley Field can easily exceed $50 or $60. Add in the exorbitant cost of parking and concessions, and it’s virtually impossible for a middle-income family to experience the game of baseball beyond watching it on television.
Make no mistake, the Cubs are still no better than any other organization for this recent move. They’re simply masquerading behind the idea of what Cubs vice president Julian Green says is “getting as many season tickets in the hands of fans that are interested in and intend to enjoy Cubs baseball at Wrigley Field.”
If the Cubs really wanted to make this vision a reality they would sever their affiliations with all ticketing agencies outside of their own box office. Unfortunately, the reality is that while the Cubs have targeted those who intend to profit from the resale of season tickets, they’re still in bed with organizations that make it impossible to do what Green so benevolently described.
Though there’s no doubt the business of scalping is virtually impossible to curtail, there are a number of routes the Cubs could have taken to help limit the frequency of which their tickets are resold. Instead of denouncing the business of reselling tickets altogether, the Cubs attempt for positive publicity comes across as nothing short of a selfish attempt to maximize their own revenues. If the Cubs truly wished to give fans a greater ability to attend games, they would have announced measures to limit the resale of all season tickets, from the non-affiliated brokers to the guy that sells most of his tickets on StubHub. But alas, the Cubs stand to profit from their partnership with StubHub, and with Wednesday’s announcement they’ve essentially done nothing more than bolster an already lucrative revenue stream under the disguise of servicing their loyal fans.
At least the “I need tickets” guy is an honest crook.