Cubs ticket prices surprisingly surge after first pitch

Eben Novy-Williams
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The Chicago Cubs are the hottest ticket in sports. So hot, in fact, that those hoping to see the team end its 108-year World Series drought are breaking the conventional wisdom of the ticket market.

Prices to see Cubs postseason games at Wrigley Field actually rise after the game begins, according to data from Gametime, one of the few secondary markets that sells after the first pitch. That bucks a general trend for most sporting events, where prices drop steadily in the hours leading up to games, and even more so once they start. That’s how it’s worked for the two other teams left in the Major League Baseball playoffs, the Cleveland Indians and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Why are the Cubs different?

“It’s a great question,” said Gametime founder and CEO Brad Griffith, who was in Chicago for the start of the National League Championship Series. “Cubs fever is taking over. Fans are confident, and more so than previous years, there’s a real feeling of ‘Hey, I have to go see this.’”

The Cubs haven’t won a World Series title since 1908, by far the longest drought in U.S. professional sports. Their futility has become a part of the Windy City’s identity, earning the team the nickname the “loveable losers,” with lore that includes a curse centered around an actual goat and the public scapegoating of a fan who interfered with a foul ball.

Sales for Cubs home playoff games have averaged $279 nine hours before first pitch, dropping slowly to $229 at the start of the game, according to Gametime, a mobile-only ticket platform. Then things get odd: They spike back up to $281 in the games’ first few innings.

Griffith said another possible reason for the jump is high number of bars, restaurants and homes near Wrigley Field. At first pitch, there are a lot of people without tickets milling around the stadium, making last-minute decisions on their mobile phones.

“It’s a little different with Wrigley because people live there, people party there,” Griffith said.

Compare that with the Dodgers, who trail the Cubs 3-2 in their best-of-seven series. Playoff games at Dodger Stadium, which lacks Wrigley’s neighborhood feel, have averaged $158 nine hours before the game, dropping to $59 by game time. Late entrants get in for $53.

Indians prices have tracked similarly at Progressive Field. They drop 24 percent leading up to first pitch, then fall 13 percent in game’s first few innings.

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