About 115,000 fans sit on a waiting list for Wrigley Field season tickets, no matter that the Chicago Cubs haven't won the World Series since 1908. But as of Thursday morning, many of those folks are off the list and in position to buy because the Cubs have reclaimed nearly 1,000 tickets from 45 fans who won't be renewed because they are suspected scalpers.
Columnist Jon Greenberg of ESPN writes that the team is using language in the ticket agreement that describes season tickets as ... :
"a revocable license granted on a yearly basis at the sole discretion of the team."
Which means the Cubs are saying they can do whatever they want — such as purging the season ticket rolls — because it's their business. Expect some complaints and at least one lawsuit from this, though, because that's how it usually goes. Also expect other teams to do what the Cubs are doing. From the Chicago Tribune:
Working with outside sources, the Cubs said they identified fans who bought season tickets in bulk for the sole purpose of reselling them and sent them letters Wednesday telling them their accounts have been revoked.
"This is about getting as many season tickets in the hands of fans that are interested in and intend to enjoy Cubs baseball at Wrigley Field," vice president Julian Green said.
Now, before anyone cheers the Cubs sticking up for the little guy, remember that they resell their own tickets, like any Major League Baseball team can, and have done so for years — long before it became common industry practice. As columnist Steve Rosenbloom of the Tribune points out, this move doesn't affect fans who resell to StubHub, a ticket resale partner of MLB at least through the end of this season. The Cubs simply are trying to control who gets the revenue from re-sold tickets.
It also should be noted that the Cubs say their own ticket resaler — Wrigley Field Premium Tickets — does not use season tickets as a source. But the Cubs still are selling their own tickets twice (or more). Which, more power to the Cubs, if people want to buy their tickets over and over in order to see 100 losses.
Back to Greenberg:
The Cubs do not release their season ticket base number, but their season low for a game was 25,891 on Thursday, Sept. 20, and a Cubs source said the number for full-season plans is around that number. The Cubs averaged 35,590 fans a game this past year, down 1,669 from 2011.
It's tough on the street for scalpers when the Cubs don't have a playoff-caliber product. That's when the big money is made.