The Chicago Cubs have once again descended into a disappointing, non-playoff season, with fans frustrated and longing for the promised build-up of the team that still seems so far away. And this week, the club’s new chairman, Tom Ricketts, discussed the likelihood that next year’s player payroll will be lower than this season’s $145 million price tag, the third highest in the league this year.
In the same announcement, Ricketts danced around the issue of ticket prices, with conventional wisdom saying that another hike in ticket prices is likely to come as well in 2011. This is a bitter pill to swallow for fans of a team who last won the World Series in 1908, and have seen ownership offer no remedy yet for the club’s continuing troubles.
Even the historic, second-of-all-time series next May between the Cubs and the Boston Red Sox will not do much for the team’s finances, with that series set to take place in Boston’s Fenway Park instead of the Cubs’ Wrigley Field.
With all the bad news coming from the field and front office, what does the 2011 season hold for secondary sales?
“In the year 2009, it was really bad,” Waisvisz said. “We thought for sure it couldn’t get worse. Well, this year was worse, with escalating ticket prices; Cubs tickets were the most expensive in baseball. What you’re seeing is people going on the rooftops instead, they’re finding out deals for those are much better than deals in the park.”
This is all happening in the face of this season’s decreased attendance (37,814 average home game attendance vs. 39,611 last year), continuing a trend begun in 2009. Even the popular area rooftop clubs, where executives entertain their clients while watching the games, have taken a hit during the recent recession, with some now in real financial trouble. While the Ricketts family has invested in one rooftop this year and has been in talks with another, Tom Ricketts has been officially noncommittal about helping out the beleaguered clubs. Since these clubs generate income for the Cubs per a 2004 agreement, it would seem to be in Ricketts’ and the team’s best interests to make that commitment.
“Our feeling on the Cubs, as one of the top five independent ticket brokers in the country, is we’re not going to go heavy on the Cubs [for next season] People are giving up seats,” Waisvisz added.
Ricketts insists, however, that money isn’t necessarily the answer here. In his recent statement, he insisted that spending more money isn’t guaranteed to solve the Chicago Cubs problems, adding that he is focused instead on building a strong organization over time.