Chicago Cubs Get Aggressive in Ticket Sales, Demand Likely Decreasing

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The ticket sales agents of the Chicago Cubs seem to be more aggressive than usual this offseason. It could be that the franchise is just going more full on Glengarry Glen Ross in their sales tactics for 2020, or it could be that they’re not hitting their quotas and thus have to be overly aggressive.

It’s probably the latter, given the off-the-record conversations we’ve had with numerous Chicago Cubs season ticket holders and perennial purchasers of game tickets. Commons sense tells you that if salesmen and saleswomen are calling you more often than they usually do, well, they’re obviously trying to keep busy because they are NOT occupied by taking and processing orders.

chicago cubs

We noticed a common thread from our conversations with several regular Cubs tickets buyers- the waiting list has shrunk. One man said his number on the wait list was called this winter despite his place being way down in the 10,000s. Another said his season ticket wait this time was just three years, after being more than a decade last time.

These stories are becoming all the more common, and it’s an indicator that an exodus has occurred. Coming on strong e-mail messages such as these also indicate that sales are slowing a bit.

As a follow-up to the voicemail I left you, I am attempting to reach you to discuss some exciting news regarding your position on the Cubs Season Ticket Holder Waiting List. 

Based on your place towards the top of the list, there is a chance we will contact you in early 2020 with the opportunity to purchase Chicago Cubs season tickets! In an effort to ensure you are as prepared as possible for this long-awaited and exciting opportunity, I’m happy to serve as your internal resource within the Cubs organization to answer any questions you may have on the Cubs Season Ticket Holder experience and seat selection process. 

I’m very excited for the potential of you joining our Chicago Cubs Season Ticket Holder family! What is the best day and time to connect in the next week to further discuss next steps and timing?  

That one was sent by an individual with a job title “Sports & Entertainment Operations Representative- Premier Service” for the Chicago Cubs organization while the following was sent by an “Inside Sales Representative” for the team:

See attached the new 8 packs for the 2020 season! I strongly recommend speaking with a friend to share the packs with, as these games are very in-demand and will save you in the long run.

 Let me know if you have any questions, or which way you’re leaning before Friday.

Meanwhile this message was sent by a rep, whose title was Inside Sales for Marquee 360:

Reaching out to introduce myself as your new Chicago Cubs ticket pack sales rep. We have reorganized our sales team to make sure we provide the best possible service to our flex pack clients, and I look forward to working with you for the 2020 season!

 While we still have over a month of baseball left in the 2019 season as we battle for our fifth straight playoff appearance, I wanted to help you start to prepare to renew your flex pack now that the 2020 schedule has been released.

 We are now taking deposits towards 2020 packs, which will provide you with priority access to lock in your tickets before the general public. You can place your deposit with me over the phone, or online at cubs.com/packs (online transaction fee of $10). 

When are you free for a call next week to better introduce myself?

Marquee 360 is a small marketing firm, founded in 2017, according to their Linked In page (google them just in case you want more corporatespeak buzz words in your life) that led the charge on the 1060 W. Addison project. (a real life “SoDoSoPa” for those of you who watched the gentrification project season of “South Park.”)

So with the Cubs putting an outsourced firm on the case, in addition to their house sales force, yes, it’s fair to assume that they are just not moving their inventory like they used to. It’s certainly easy to understand why!

The tickets remain among the most expensive in baseball, despite the club heading in the wrong direction on the field. After a run of NLCS appearances in 2015-2017, the Cubs only made the play-in game in 2018 and didn’t reach the postseason at all this October. They got the on-field results they deserved following a preseason/off-season in which they did next to nothing to improve the team.

It’s also worth noting that in all the sales pitch e-mails we saw, none mentioned ticket prices up front, and that’s a red flag to say the least. Maybe people are simply getting turned off by the team keeping ticket prices extremely high while the product on the field degrades.

wrigley-field-rooftops-field-cubs

Or maybe something more ideological is going on.

For every sports franchise that succeeds at a high level, there’s always an element of “if you like how the sausage tastes, don’t learn how it’s made.” With the Chicago Cubs, the sausage making process is out in full view. The far right sociopolitical views of the team’s ownership are well documented, and that just don’t gel with most of the fan base. You can argue that if you’re supporting the Chicago Cubs, you are indirectly, in some ways, giving money to the Trump 2020 re-election campaign.

Apologies if that sentence almost caused you to vomit.

Hillary Clinton won 85% of the vote in the city of Chicago, so if the team doesn’t understand how they’re misreading the room on this one, it’s because they just don’t want to.

Last winter, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts claimed that the Cubs had no money to spend on free agency.

money-manchester-united

He repeated this specific bit of intelligence-insulting propaganda repeatedly while his organization invested in other places instead of player roster improvement.

The Chicago Cubs have put their money instead towards their new legal sports betting concern, Trump fund-raising initiatives and the campaign of the politician who challenged the Alderman of Wrigley Field’s ward, Tom Tunney. That last one is because Tunney has obstructed some of their objectives and they want a more malleable politician running their neighborhood.

Also, the Cubs are doing VERY WELL on the ledger sheet, despite what Ricketts says. Now that they have partnered up with far right propaganda machine Sinclair Broadcasting for their new TV network, the “revenue streams” will keep in flowing every more strongly.

tom _ricketts-crane-kenney

In July, the Cubs placed in a tie for 14th place on the Forbes’ 50 most valuable sports franchises list. That’s a global list, not just an American one, by the way.

Their valuation of $3.1 billion included an operating income of $87 million. Making the Ricketts narrative look even sillier, the Cubs value actually INCREASED from the past year, ramping up 7%, and that’s hard to do given the challenge of maintaining top line growth when you’re up at this level among the fiscally elite.

So while the tickets sales are most likely slowing, perhaps substantially, they are certainly not going to be financially hurting any time soon.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

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