If there’s any upside to the Cubs’ disintegration this season, it might be this: Wrigleyville’s ticket brokers and scalpers are taking a bath.
I know what you’re thinking – it couldn’t be happening to a nicer group of guys.
Street-level Cubs ticket business usually drops off in September after the kids go back to school. It drops off even more when the home team sinks to the fringes of playoff contention before Labor Day.
So you get scenes like you see in these photos. It’s fire sale time in Wrigleyville, with lonely ticket brokers lining Addison and Clark Streets, wearing bored or resigned expressions and chatting idly with their cohorts as fans stroll by, uninterested, on their way to the park.
The brokers hold up wads of unsold tickets for that day’s game in one hand, fanned out like they’re in some kind of Wrigleyville Texas Hold ‘Em tournament. These days, nothing is moving, as they say in the business.
There are close to a dozen storefront ticket brokers within a couple blocks of Wrigley (though some of these places could only generously be described as storefronts). There are also dozens upon dozens more small-time hustlers who converge on the Friendly Confines every summer to scalp tickets, hawk tasteless t-shirts or bang on plastic buckets. It’s all part of life in Wrigleyville, though few of these people will be missed come October.
The brokers, like their counterparts at our local futures exchanges, make their livings trying to buy low and sell high. Free-market capitalism at its purest, right?
One twist is many of our friendly local brokers take advantage of peak-demand games over the summer by jacking up prices to obscenely-inflated levels, among other creative tactics.
For some prime games this summer, I recall seeing some brokers listing tickets on their websites for anywhere from three to six times face value, sometimes more, for just so-so seats. For 200-level, terrace reserved seats, for example, you were talking in the neighborhood of $180 to $200 for a $40 or $45 ticket.
With so many brokers asking similarly steep prices (and hordes of summer tourists unschooled in the local ticket scene), one suspects they have plenty of room to come down and still pocket a tidy profit. Hopefully, few people actually paid those kinds of prices.
I’ve seen ticket brokers quoted to the effect that they’re providing a valuable “service” for the public and are only charging what the market will bear. That may true to an extent. They certainly have every right to participate in the market as brokers licensed with the state of Illinois.
You fans also have the right to avoid dealing with them, and instead look for tickets on places like craigslist, where you can find a lot of regular season-ticket holders, like myself, trying to unload seats at much more reasonable prices.
But all markets go though up and down cycles, and Cubs fans, the tables have turned in your favor. Earlier this week, brokers were asking $5 to $10 below face for pretty decent seats (100-level field boxes, $55 to $65 face) for Cubs-Brewers games.
“We shouldn’t be selling tickets under face, but we are,” one Clark St. broker said Monday. “It just seems like nobody cares.”
Nobody should even pay that much. CKOW’s advice, if you want to go through a broker for tickets for the Cubs’ seven remaining home games, is to ask for something 100-level or better, start with a two-for-one bid, and negotiate down from there until they’re to the point of tears.
If they protest, show them the National League standings. Free markets, right?