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Cubs fans pay the price

Despite struggling economy, tickets for the Dodgers-Chicago series draw top dollar from fans seeking a World Series victory.

September 30, 2008|Greg Johnson | Times Staff Writer

Another major U.S. bank on Monday fell victim to the global liquidity crisis, the House rejected the politically charged $700-billion bailout and U.S. stocks fell off a cliff. Yet in Chicago, at least, real-world worries seemingly failed to put a damper on fan interest in Cubs' postseason tickets.

The weight of history -- as in a full century since the Cubs last won a World Series -- has seemed strong enough to prop up MLB postseason ticket resales among pennant-hungry Cubs fans.

"If the Cubs can't win it all this year with this team, then you will see a depression coming," said Bob Lamprou, a 38-year-old futures and commodities trader in Chicago who is trying to leverage a pair of so-so tickets for Wednesday night's division playoff game against the Dodgers into two pricier seats for an upcoming Bears game.

Even if the ticket swap falls apart, Lamprou figures he'll be able to clear $175 on the tickets with a $75 face value.

"The neighborhood has gone wild," said the Cubs season-ticket holder, who will use another set of tickets to see the home games. "I live in the heart of Wrigleyville, and there's a strong sense that this is the year, that everyone truly believes that something good is going to happen."

Late Monday afternoon, Cubs fever had pushed the average price for postseason tickets to Wrigley Field games to $338, with the most expensive ticket selling for $2,500 and the least expensive going for $90. In contrast, the average sales price on StubHub for tickets to the Dodgers' two possible home games was $114, with the high at $1,000 and the lowest-priced ticket going for $20.

On the American League side, the average selling price on StubHub for three scheduled games at Angel Stadium was $103, down from $146 last year when the Red Sox and Angels met. The highest-priced seat sold for an Angels home game so far on StubHub was $883, the lowest, $25.

The average price at Fenway Park was $196, down from $303 last year. The highest-priced resale ticket has been $786, the lowest, $66.

StubHub spokesman Sean Pate tied the drop in average ticket prices for the AL teams to a been-there, done-that mentality.

"Both series are sold out, I believe, but the resale market value of ticket is down to a real affordable level because the same two teams played last year," Pate said.

Real-world financial worries also are having a dulling effect on ticket resale prices.

"Buyers clearly are having to be more judicious on what they spend their money on in terms of entertainment value," Pate said.

Omaha resident Joe Miklas agreed with that assessment. He bought a pair of $75 face value Cubs tickets through the franchise's online lottery. But he ended up selling the tickets to a Chicagoan for a total of $400 through EBay rather than having to absorb the costs of driving 1,000 miles round trip, paying for a hotel room, meals and other expenses.

The lifelong Cubs fan said that he gladly would absorb the added expenses if the Cubs were the NL Champions: "If it were the World Series, there would be no way that I'd be selling them."

David Carter, executive director of the USC Sports Business Institute, suspects that Miklas isn't alone.

"People will pay almost anything for a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Carter said. "There are also plenty of people who remain affluent, just as there are an awful lot of staunch fans."

Count Los Angeles resident Kevin Sved among the latter. A couple of weeks ago he used his Washington Mutual -- or is it now J.P. Morgan? -- debit card to buy $500 worth of tickets for the three scheduled Angels home games.

"I'm definitely going to have to sacrifice in other parts of my [home] budget," said the 41-year-old Angels fan who will bring his two children and a cousin to the games. "It's definitely a pricey investment, but we're going to get revenge on Boston from last year and I don't want to miss that."

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greg.johnson@latimes.com

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