The most popular band in the United States is coming to Chicago. The concert is supposed to be the best one of the year and everyone is saving up the money to go. Tickets go on sale in just two minutes and people across Chicago are sitting in front of their computers, anxiously waiting to purchase their tickets. Finally, it’s time. As thousands of people search for tickets, their positive outlook quickly changes when they see what is available: second level, behind the stage, for $50.
This situation is familiar to many Chicagoans who have tried to purchase tickets for either sporting events or concerts. Chicago, the third largest city in the U.S. with almost three million people, has 31 professional sports teams, seven of which are well known. Concert ticket prices in the nation averaged $67.02 per ticket, while some sporting events passed the $150 mark. In Chicago, the average ticket price for a concert is around $75 and about $95 for sporting events. These prices, however, are the tickets sold through the organization, not through brokers and scalpers.
“Chicago’s ticket prices can be overpriced at times. Even the seats in the very back where it’s hard to see the performer can be expensive,” said Gabriella Thompson, junior psychology major at University of Illinois-Chicago.
According to Fox Business, the Chicago Bears football team has the fifth most expensive fan experience in the National Football League. This year, an average ticket costs $101.55, the premium ticket around $312.50, $46 for parking, $8 for a beer and $5 for a hotdog. To have a family of four experience an NFL game this season, it would cost around $427.42, and $608.64 to attend a game at Soldier Field, because it is more well known.
True, the ticket price is for all the seats, but what if one was okay with sitting in the 400-level seats? In an article by Jon Greenberg of ESPN Chicago, the $101-priced ticket is the cheapest you can find this season, compared to last year’s $74 ticket in the nose-bleed section. But why raise the prices? Bears vice president of sales and marketing, Chris Hibbs, said in the article that it was to benefit the team’s strong season-ticket base.
“Our focus has been around adding benefits and amenities for our season-ticket holders. They should be paying less for their tickets than what the general public pays. We’re very lucky to have a vast majority of Soldier Field filled with our loyal season ticket holders, so the quantity of tickets available in the public on-sale is limited to a few thousand per game. But we feel it’s important that the public has an opportunity. The reality is we could sell them all as season tickets if we wanted,” said Hibbs.
Chicago Bulls’ (basketball) tickets this season range from $44 in the 300-Level for not-so-popular teams to $290 for 100-Level seats for the premier games against teams such as the Heat and Lakers. Chicago Blackhawks’ (hockey) tickets for this season (whenever it may start) range from $54 for 300-Level tickets in the Tier 3 section to $450 for against the glass. Again, these prices reflect the prices originally established by the organization itself, not the re-sale value.
In an article by Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Cubs are decreasing their overall average ticket price by 2 percent in 2013. After a 61-101 losing record last season and working with Natural Selection, a technology company based in San Diego that analyzed the primary and secondary markets, the Cubs determined that it would be best to lower prices. This drop will be from an average $108.70 ticket, and will decrease mainly in the terrace reserved outfield, the upper deck outfield boxes, and the bleachers.
As for concerts, the ticket prices vary depending on artist/event. On December 16, venue Allstate Arena in Rosemont is hosting B96’s Jingle Bash, featuring artists Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen, Pitbull, Afrojack, Calvin Harris, PSY, and Austin Mahone. Tickets went on sale October 26 at 10 a.m. on the Ticket Master website. Yet at 10 a.m. when ticket-hopefuls tried to purchase tickets, the only “decently priced” seats available were in the 200-Level section for $50, behind the stage. In a matter of seconds, the 200-Level seats that could see the stage were gone, leaving main-level tickets for $147.65 each. How is that possible?
Ticket brokers are the main reason tickets are so expensive. Their job is to buy more tickets and buy them faster than individuals. Many brokerages buy the tickets, and control a significant portion of the supply of tickets, charging ten times the ticket price or more. Ticket brokers claim that they are providing a service to the economy, and according to wiseGEEK.com, brokers argue that “if people want to see a show badly enough to pay ten times the face value of the ticket, the ticket broker is justified in selling the ticket for that price.” Those who oppose ticket brokers claim that due to the limited number of tickets, brokers are providing “unfair competition…cornering the market.”
“Tickets [in Chicago] are expensive. I can’t make it to a lot of events because they cost too much,” said Michele Goodwin, junior sociology major at UIC.
There are ways to go to sporting events and concerts without spending over $100 per ticket. One option for sporting events is to go to a Chicago Wolves’ (hockey) game. Tickets range from $9 to 200-Level seats to $36.75 for 100-Level seats. Jon Palmer, ticket sales and service coordinator for the Wolves, said that ticket prices are decided by the ticket department, president of the team, and the business development department. Also, he said that the prices are lower than other Chicago sports teams because the Wolves are not in the Top-5 sports’ teams in Chicago (compared to the Blackhawks, Bears, Cubs, Sox, and Bulls).
“To have fans attend games, we need to have lower prices than the other Chicago sports teams. We also promote games through digital advertising, radio spots, billboards, newspaper ads, and other forms of media to let fans know that they can come to a game starting at only $9,” Palmer said over the phone.
The Wolves offer a Fan 4 Pack, which includes four tickets, four hotdogs, and four medium sodas starting at $75, depending on seating location. The Wolves are also offering special holiday deals through Ticketmaster starting in December. Fans can also go to chicagowolves.com/schedule/promotional-schedule for a list of promotions available on the game days.
Another option is to go through StubHub. Yes, StubHub is a ticket broker, but the prices of tickets are controlled strictly by the fans who sell the tickets. This year, StubHub was awarded the Best in Biz Award for Most Customer Friendly Company of the Year. StubHub is also partnered with over 20 colleges and campaigns, holding events such as tailgates.
“Fans have adopted the secondary market over the years. We continue to grow in double digit percentages, even during the recession, as more fans have experienced the benefits of the secondary market. This year we launched StubHub Fan Rewards. Fans who make eligible purchases will accrue toward earning rewards Fan Codes, and also count toward becoming a Superstar member. From our sales trends, we’re seeing that prices are 30% less on average on event day. So there is something for everyone, and a great place to discover new events /things to do in your area,” said Shannon Barbara, public relations agent, in an email.
The best solution to avoid paying high prices for tickets is to not buy the tickets. Even though the prices for concerts and sporting events are high in Chicago, people are still willing to buy them to see their favorite team or artist.
“When the Blackhawks were in the Stanley Cup Championship, I had Game 5 tickets but my mom and I already went to Game Two. So, we sold the tickets for $1000 each. Die-hard fans will pay anything to go to a game. So maybe prices are too high, but some fans are willing to pay to see their teams,” said Stephen Scaletta, freshman criminal justice studies major at Northeastern Illinois University.
When Chicagoans become outraged by ticket prices and stop buying them, the prices will drop. Without tickets being purchased, someone will have to do something about it, either the ticket brokers or the organization itself. Someday, it may be affordable to go have fun at a sporting event or concert once again without paying over $100 for it.