Cubs, White Sox pass on raising prices

CHICAGO -- After a combined 195 losses and cratering attendance in 2013, there wasn't any reason for Chicago's baseball teams to raise its prices in 2014.

In one of many smart offseason moves for both clubs, neither one did.

The White Sox held prices flat across the board, while the Cubs slightly lowered ticket prices, according to the 2014 Team Marketing Report Fan Cost Index, which was released Monday.

The Cubs remain baseball's third most-expensive ticket at $44.16, which is down 0.9 percent from last season. The Cubs haven't raised season-ticket prices since 2010, the Ricketts family's first as owners.

The Cubs have lost 197 games in the past two seasons, and the 100th season at Wrigley Field doesn't look too promising to reverse the trend.

After a miserable 99-loss season, the White Sox's average ticket price of $26.05 remains unchanged. With declining attendance, the Sox cut season ticket prices by a combined 39 percent in the previous two seasons.

The average Major League Baseball ticket is $27.93, a 2 percent increase from last season. The average "premium" ticket, which includes club seats, is $93.41.

The Cubs' average premium ticket, which includes the box seats in the lower bowl, is $110.49, while the Sox's is $86.94.

The Fan Cost Index comes up with an average price to take a family of four to a game, which includes beer, soft drinks hot dogs, parking, a game program and adult hats. The MLB average is $212.46, a 2.3 percent increase from last season.

The Cubs' FCI remains the third-highest in baseball at $304.64, while the White Sox are just below the league average at $210.18.

Attendance and interest plummeted in Chicago last season.

The rebuilding Cubs drew 2,642,682 coming off a 101-loss season. That's their worst total since 1998 and an 8.3 percent drop from the previous season. While their renovation plans were cleared by the city last summer, the Cubs are waiting to settle some disputes with rooftop owners to begin the massive $300 million to $500 million construction project.

Meanwhile, across town, U.S. Cellular Field had an 8.9 percent decrease in per game attendance, down to 22,105, the team's worst average since 2002.

According to the Sports Business Journal, White Sox local cable TV ratings fell by 45 percent to a meager 1.14 average rating (ahead of only Houston). Cubs local cable TV ratings were down 9 percent.

But the Cubs added a new feature to reduce some costs for fans, especially those coming off the highway. They added a free remote lot about 2 1/2 miles away west of the park that includes shuttle service.

Despite the news of a $140 million, 10-year exclusive marketing deal with Anheuser-Busch InBev last fall, Old Style remains at Wrigley Field in certain stands, while vendors will sling Bud products and Goose Island brands. The Cubs' cheapest beer option is $7.50 for a 16-ounce. Their cheapest vended option is $8 for Budweiser products. The Sox have a $6.50, 16-ounce beer option.

Every season, the White Sox add new food options, many of them of a super-size variety. This season, the Sox will serve bacon-on-a-stick for $5 and a three-pound banana split sundae for $17, among other options. They've also added a slew of premium craft beers, including Revolution Anti-Hero, Lagunitas and Bell's Two-Hearted Ale.

The Cubs have planned certain menu options around their 100th anniversary celebration, which includes decade themes. Near Gate D, the Cubs are serving "decade dogs," like a 1910s Reuben Dog and a 1990s Bagel Dog.

They've also added "period cocktails" available at two locations. Choices include 1960s Alabama Ironman, a Whiskey Sour-like drink as an homage to Billy Williams, and 1990s Home Run Hop, a "Dominican-inspired cocktail." The Cubs don't specify which home-run hopping Dominican slugger that drink is based on.