The Cubs missed the postseason for the first time in five seasons in 2019, and season ticket holders will see an average price decrease of about 2.5% next year, according to the team.
Cale Vennum, vice president of ticketing, said the decrease has more to do with the added early-season home games than the Cubs' failure to make the postseason.
"Our season ticket holders are obviously disappointed that we didn't make the playoffs last year," Vennum said Wednesday. "But they look at this team and still see a roster they expect to be really competitive for 2020. The feedback we've gotten around (new manager) David Ross has been fantastic. Our fans are really excited to see him lead this team in 2020."
The Cubs front office is in the process of roster changes that could see the departure of some popular players. The team sent invoices for the 2020 season Wednesday, with the first payment due Dec. 11, so season ticket holders will have to make their decision before some changes occur.
According to Team Marketing Report, the Cubs had the highest average non-premium ticket price in the majors in 2019 at $59.49. The small capacity at Wrigley Field and high demand typically have the Cubs in the top three teams of ticket prices, along with the Red Sox and Yankees.
"It's really the market dictating the price," Vennum said. "People are telling us they really want to come to Cubs games and they value them really, really highly. So we're just trying to be commensurate with the market."
The Cubs finished fourth in attendance in 2019, averaging 38,208 per game, a slight drop-off from 2018 but a 4.3% decline from 2016, when the Cubs won their first championship in 108 years. The average Cubs ticket price increased 10% from 2015 to '16.
The Cubs had 12 home games in March and April last year, often playing in cold and rainy conditions. Because of an earlier start to the 2020 season and an unfavorable schedule, that March/April number is increasing to 18 games in 2020, beginning with the March 30 home opener against the Pirates.
"It's predominantly when you have six more games in March and April that obviously is going to factor in (to the price)," Vennum said. "So really strong sales, you combine that with a little different schedule next year, put all those factors together, that's what led to the 2.5% price decrease."
While prices for individual games will increase in several categories for season ticket holders, the additional games in lower-priced tiers brings the overall cost down. That won't be the case when fans are able purchase individual tickets in February. Prices have not been announced but will be higher than what season ticket holders are paying on an individual ticket basis.
The lowest of the six-tier pricing system – bronze – increases from seven to nine games, while silver – the second-lowest – increases from 17 to 25 games. The biggest decrease is 6.5% for upper-box outfield, which range from $14 to $65.
The highest-priced tier – diamond – increases from four to six games, including the home opener, a pair of Saturday games in the summer and the three-game series against the Red Sox on June 19-21.
Vennum said the Red Sox series will create high demand because they play at Wrigley only once every few years, combined with the fact it's scheduled for a summer weekend.
"When the stars align, that's going to be probably the biggest series we have on our schedule all year," he said.
The highest-priced ticket, outside of the premium clubs, is $262 for a club-box home-plate seat for a diamond game, up from $259 in 2019. The total cost for those seats, not including the city amusement tax, is $12,705 for the 81-game season, a decrease from $12,921 in 2019. A bleacher season ticket will cost $3,464 in 2020, plus tax, a 2.6% decrease.
The premium-club seats were not announced, and many are on multiyear contacts, Vennum said.
The Cubs are moving night-game start times up to 6:40 p.m. for 10 games before Memorial Day and after Labor Day in 2020 to accommodate families who complained about the difficulty of getting kids to bed on school days because of the late games.