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Tuesday, June 3
Updated: June 6, 10:24 AM ET
 
Bankable product: Yanks in town, Rocket pitching

By Darren Rovell
ESPN.com

Max Waisvisz was watching the Chicago Cubs get whipped by the Houston Astros from his rooftop overlooking Wrigley Field, when his cell phone began to ring Sunday afternoon.

"Clemens is losing it," one friend told him as the Detroit Tigers scored five runs in the fifth off Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens to close the gap to 7-6. Minutes later, another friend called to tell Waisvisz that the game was tied up in the seventh, and Clemens was no longer pitching -- and gone, for the day, was his chance to earn his 300th win.

Most popular
road teams*
1. Yankees
2. Cubs
3. Red Sox
4. Giants
5. Angels
*Secondary ticket sales
Source: Stubhub.com

As one of Chicago's largest ticket brokers, Waisvisz reveled in Clemens' misfortune. Clemens' no-decision meant major dollars for Waisvisz's Gold Coast Tickets franchise.

Combine the fact that the Yankees, baseball's most popular team, were coming to Chicago's North Side for the first time since the 1938 World Series with Clemens' next attempt to earn his 300th career victory coming on Saturday, and Chicago area ticket brokers are expecting to cash in big on the Cubs' hottest ticket of the year, a three-game series that begins Friday at Wrigley Field.

Brokers are quoting between $150 and $200 apiece for tickets with a face value ranging from $12 to $20. Up-close field level box seats are selling for $500 to $1,000 each. The same seats for Tuesday night's Cubs-Devil Rays are going for $75 to $125 per seat on the secondary market.

"This is one of the hottest regular season tickets in Chicago in the past 15 years," said Waisvisz, who noted that by Monday he had only 66 of the 866 he purchased for Saturday's game still available. "Demand for this game is equivalent to the playoff game against the Giants," a reference to the one-game tiebreaker in 1998 that determined which team would face Atlanta in the NL Division Series.

Since Wrigley is one of only two major league ballparks -- Fenway Park being the other -- that seats fewer than 40,000, demand is usually high anyway. But ticket industry insiders say the factors driving Saturday's Cubs-Yankees market make it one of the all-time hottest tickets.

"You have a small venue, a team in first place and then you bring in the Yankees, who are also in first place, on a Saturday afternoon," said Eric Baker, president of Stubhub.com, an online secondary ticket marketplace which had more than 100 tickets posted. "Then you add Clemens possibly getting his 300th win and then throw in the fact that he's facing Kerry Wood [a fellow Texan and fireballer] and what baseball fan wouldn't want to be at this game? That's why we're moving more tickets for this game than any other Cubs game so far this season."

Baker said that his company's data reflects that the Yankees are the most bankable road team in baseball and the Cubs are the second most popular road draw.

Thomas Cawthorne, a commodities broker on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, couldn't attend Saturday's game because of the World Pork Expo in Des Moines, so he sold four upper-terrace reserve seats, with a face value of $25, for $200 apiece on eBay on Monday.

"It didn't even occur to me that there was a chance that this could be Clemens' 300th win until Monday morning," Cawthorne said. "I think I discounted it because he had two other chances to win it."

Fred Kaplan of Parlin, N.J., spent $500 on four tickets. But the Yankees fan, who is flying to Chicago for his nephew's graduation this weekend and has never seen a game at Wrigley, said the markup will be worth it.

"I spent more money than I would have under normal circumstances for these tickets," Kaplan said. "But I believe it will be one of the few times I will ever experience a baseball game with true historical significance."

Two Chicagoland brokers, who requested anonymity, said they believe prices could fall as the weekend draws closer and more tickets are on the market for the soldout games. Not only do the Cubs have an online ticket exchange for season ticketholders, which allows them to exchange tickets for a credit toward future purchases, but the Cubs also have their own ticket brokerage firm, Wrigley Field Premium Ticket Services. Cubs officials have previously said that the brokerage is separate from the team, though financial and operational execution are reportedly in part being made by ballclub officials, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

With the Cubs allegedly having their hand in the operation, there is some concern that Wrigley Field Premium Ticket Services -- which was selling tickets to Saturday's game from $200 to $745 on Tuesday -- has an abundance of tickets that could upset the supply-and-demand formula, the brokers said. Premium is said to have some of the premium seats reserved for the company's sale -- such as box and bleacher seats -- but it is unclear how many tickets the organization has reserved for sale each game.

Customers of the Cubs' ticket broker service have filed a lawsuit and a trial, which may determine if the Cubs can broker their own tickets, is scheduled for July. Cubs officials said they would not comment on cases that are in litigation. Wrigley Field Premium Ticket Services officials did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

If prices drop, brokers who have sold their allotment like Waisvisz says he will, could turn into Yankees fans -- at least for this weekend.

"I might go out on my rooftop on Saturday in a Roger Clemens jersey," Waisvisz said. "I don't care if people scream at me. Roger made me a lot of money."

Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at Darren.rovell@espn3.com.




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