With the Cubs favored to win their first World Series title since 1908 and end the longest drought in the history of professional sports, the cost of playoff tickets can be sky-high. That is, unless you happen to be a Chicago alderman.
For the second straight year, all 50 aldermen — and state lawmakers who represent Chicago districts — have been offered the right to purchase two terrace reserved or upper deck tickets for each home playoff game at Wrigley Field all the way through the World Series.
The lucrative perk comes three years after the City Council gave the Cubs the go-ahead to rebuild Wrigley and develop the land around it and less than four months after the Cubs won the limited right to sell beer and wine on an open-air plaza next to the stadium.
Despite the apparent conflict of interest, “more than 70 percent” of City Council members have taken the Cubs up on their generous offer.
“They are paying for these tickets. They are not being given a discount or free tickets. In that case, it would be a direct conflict,” Cubs spokesman Julian Green said Monday.
Green called the offer a “courtesy” similar to the one extended to Chicago politicians in 2003, 2007, 2008 and 2015. Only this time, it comes with a warning.
“We are not providing tickets to elected officials to resell and turn a profit. This is only for their personal use to enjoy the excitement of the Cubs playoff baseball,” Green said.
“We plan to monitor the online secondary market for resales of tickets. If we find that any of those tickets are being resold, we would ask that elected officials to please remove those tickets from StubHub.”
There’s good reason for the first-ever warning: sky-high prices for playoff tickets commensurate with the insatiable demand.
For the National League Division Series, StubHub prices include: infield club box, $7,500; bleachers, $10,000; infield terrace reserved, $20,000.
For the World Series, StubHub prices start at $2,499.90 for a standing-room-only ticket and reach a jaw-dropping $1 million for a bullpen box.
Last year, Ald. Danny Solis (25th), chairman of the City Council’s Zoning Committee, spurned the Cubs’ playoff ticket offer citing the conflict posed by past contentious votes that benefited the Cubs.
This year, Solis changed his mind and said yes.
“I really don’t like to cut off my nose to spite my face. My chief-of-staff is a really big Cubs fan. I’ll give a ticket to him. My wife is a big Cubs fan. I’ll have her go. I’ll go with her,” Solis said.
“Last year, I said no. It was dumb. I have constituents, supporters and staff who would really enjoy the opportunity to see this championship season and I’m going to take advantage of it. If you share that opportunity with people who normally wouldn’t be able to go, I don’t think it’s a conflict.”
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), who has dueled with the team over that outdoor plaza and other neighborhood issues, said he, too, plans to take advantage of the Cubs’ offer, even though he might not make it inside the stadium for every single inning.
“I have to be around the ballpark to make sure everything is top-notch. But, I plan to get in there as much as I can,” Tunney said Monday.
“As you know, that doesn’t make much difference with my vote. It’s always a give-and-take with me.”
Rookie Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) has no intention of taking the Cubs up on their ticket offer. He called it an obvious conflict of interest.
“Someone who seeks to … get benefits from the city is offering a gift to aldermen and I have issues with that. We should pay market price — just like anyone else. What they’re going for on the market — not what the face value is,” Ramirez-Rosa said.
“Sports teams are consistently asking cities where they’re located for benefits, for assistance. I just want to make sure that we don’t corrupt that relationship.”
Contentious negotiations between the Cubs, Tunney and the owners of rooftop clubs overlooking the landmark stadium dragged on for years, spanning two mayoral administrations.
There was also hard bargaining with Mayor Rahm Emanuel over the Cubs’ failed demand for an amusement tax subsidy and over virtually every element of the team’s revised plan to bankroll the project with an influx of outfield signs and additional night games.
Ultimately, Wrigleyville residents accused Emanuel and his City Council allies of going too far by giving the Cubs the go-ahead to put up two video scoreboards, four other outfield signs, extend the Wrigley footprint onto public streets and sidewalks without compensating Chicago taxpayers and play more night games.
When it came to the plaza rules, the Cubs did not get their way.
The plan approved by the City Council gave Tunney many of the safeguards he wanted to prevent the plaza from turning into what Wrigleyville residents have called the “Midwest’s largest beer garden.”