Bears fans miffed over price jump, but demand remains high
BY ADAM L. JAHNS email@example.com February 6, 2013 9:44PM
If the Bears beat the Packers on Sunday at Soldier Field, you can expect giddy fans to start talking about their Super Bowl chances. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times
Updated: February 7, 2013 10:36AM
Bears season tickets have been in John Kaketsis’ family since 1985. Those are the days of Da Coach, the Punky QB and the legendary Walter Payton.
All the additional costs that come with them can be tough.
“It can be an expensive outing,” said Kaketsis, a salesman from Chicago’s Mayfair neighborhood. “But you don’t want to be the guy who goes, ‘Oh, I sold my tickets,’ and then two years down the line you’re sitting there wishing you could go to the NFC Championship and you’re sitting on your couch.”
In a letter from president Ted Phillips, which highlighted the hiring of Marc Trestman, the Bears notified their season-ticket holders that prices have increased for the 2013 season.
The overall average increase is 4.2 percent, ranging from $3 to $10 for 90 percent of the seating bowl, with some United Club seats remaining the same. Non-club season-ticket prices now range from $79 to $165 and account for approximately 85 percent of the seating at Soldier Field.
Kaketsis’ tickets went up $3 each. He said rising prices are “more of an annoyance” but not surprising.
“Am I happy about it? No,” said Rich Bronkema, a seven-year Chicago Police veteran who shares tickets with his brother-in-law and saw his prices rise by $3 each. “But this is a football city. I would take a Bears ticket over any other team in the city, no matter how good they are.”
The Bears, who have an expansion project at Halas Hall this offseason, still owe Lovie Smith what is believed to be at least $5 million for the 2013 season and will be paying a number of other assistants, who were dismissed with Smith.
In his letter, Phillips said the price changes were based on market research.
“We remain conscious of not pricing out season ticket holders,” Phillips said. “We strive to balance economic realities with sensitivity to fans’ budgets. Our focus is on providing the best product for your entertainment dollar, and we believe that the value of a Bears season ticket is among the top entertainment values in Chicago.”
According to Team Marketing Report, a publisher of sports marketing information based in Wilmette, the Bears have raised their ticket prices every year since 2001, except for 2009.
In 2012, the Bears, who have the smallest seating capacity in the NFL, had the biggest percentage increase — 9.2 percent — for an average ticket price of $110.91.
“The past several years they’ve been consistently in the Top 5,” said Dan Bulla, Team Marketing Report’s managing editor. “So this increase, it’s not unusual. They’re always one of the most expensive teams in the league.”
Bulla points to the demand for Bears tickets.
For instance, James Chase, a general contractor from Edison Park, has been on the waiting list since 2005. He’s attended Bears games in Green Bay “numerous times” as well as other cities.
“I’ve been going to every game for the past 10 years, but I’m on the waiting list because I want the tickets in my name,” Chase said. “As soon as my number is called, I’m going to buy them.”
Some season-ticket holders are part of an advisory group that presents opinions to the team.
“We do our best to be fair with Bears season ticket holders and will always be conscious of not pricing out Bears fans,” Bears vice president of sales and marketing Chris Hibbs said. “Ticket price increases are a reality we will deal with each year. It revolves around remaining economically competitive and building toward championships. Season ticket holders are the foundation of the Bears and we are grateful for their passion. Our job is to provide them with a premium value for their commitment and to show our appreciation 365 days year.”