All in all, the price hike passed on to ticket buyers on Wednesday was rather small in the grand scheme of things. However, the optics are still bad, considering the team is coming off its worst season ever in a 16-game schedule.
Of course, ticket prices are not a function of won-loss record, but instead are at the mercy of the basic economic principle of supply and demand. And it’s not as if a huge chunk of fans are rushing to get rid of season tickets after long having them or waiting to first get them for a long time.
But what should we make of the increase of supply and decrease in demand that came with the significant late-season attendance decline and up-tick in no-shows?
Here is a breakdown of how it escalated over the season’s final four home games:
- Nov. 27: The trend of tens of thousands unused Soldier Field tickets began taking shape in late November, when it was announced that 11,086 tickets went unused when the Bears played host to the Titans.
- Dec. 4: ESPN’s Jeff Dickerson reported there were 13,160 unused tickets in a win vs. San Francisco.
- Dec. 18: Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reported the announced attendance for that day’s Bears-Packers game was 44,601 – meaning there were 16,536 unused tickets for the NFL’s longest-standing rivalry.
- Dec. 24: A week later, Chris Emma of WSCR 670-AM/CBS Chicago reported there were 18,116 unused tickets for the home finale against Washington.
The Bears even had a significant amount (7,352, per Zack Pearson) of unused tickets for their Monday Night Football showdown against the Vikings. And the team’s Oct. 16 contest against the Jaguars (5,370 unused tickets, per Chris Emma) wasn’t much better, nor was the Bears’ Oct. 2 game (4,816, per David Haugh) against the Lions.
Not counting the season-opener, the no-show counter calculated 76,436 unused tickets at Soldier Field – or approximately 14,936 more than what capacity at Soldier Field holds. Over the final four home games of the year, the Bears averaged more than 14,700 no-shows. And after Opening Week, Soldier Field averaged 10,919 unused tickets per week. So, it wasn’t as if there wasn’t supply on the secondary market. There simply was a decline in demand.
And while the Bears still received money from ticket sales, no-shows on game day means parking and concessions – which can be major money makers – take a major hit.
The Bears have played poorly at home in the last three seasons, posting a 6-18 record since 2014. While I understand the basic economics behind a price hike, the numbers don’t seem to jive with the reasoning.
Of course, if primary ticket sales haven’t yet taken a significant hit, then perhaps the Bears are making the right move here, despite the demand questions.
In any case, maybe next year fans will have good reason to pay increased ticket prices, and the rapid increase in no-shows will be stemmed.