Bears raise ticket prices despite losing season


Esther Bell

The Chicago Bears announced they will be raising ticket prices for the 2017-2018 season by an average of 2.6 percent

By Jackie Murray

The Chicago Bears’ response to its worst record since 1978? Raising ticket prices.

For the upcoming 2017–2018 season, the Chicago Bears will raise ticket prices at an overall average of 2.6 percent for all sections of Soldier Field, according to the team’s Feb 8. press release. 

The increase comes after not having increased prices since the 2014 season although Soldier Field was named the fourth most expensive stadium to watch an NFL game by CBS News in September 2016, before the pricing increase.

“It was kind of a slap in the face to see the price increase,” said Hunter Wilkerson,  current season ticket holder and financial analyst  from  Rockford, Illinois. “Basically everything about that stadium is overpriced.” 

Wilkerson, 23, said the problem lies with the team’s ownership. He said his dad does not enjoy going to games anymore because of the way the Bears’ owners, the McCaskey family, have treated fans over the years, but added that he plans on remaining a season ticket holder because of hope for the team’s future potential.

“When you have owners who from the top down don’t really show a care for that type of issue, there’s nothing you can really do,” Wilkerson said. “Unlike companies with board of directors or a president, they can’t be fired if they’re the owner.” 

The Chicago Bears declined to comment on the price increase.

Monique Maye, a sports agent at Maye & Associates, said it will be interesting to see how fans react to the price increase because the team already has a  problem filling seats. Teams usually raise ticket prices when coming off an impressive season or if they have just built a new stadium, she added.  Neither is the case for the Bears. 

“The fans are looking at it as they’ve not had a winning season in quite some time, so why would we play that amount of money to go watch the Bears play?” Maye said. “[However,] if the fans really want to come out and support the team, they’re going to pay the ticket price.” 

Libba Galloway, a visiting assistant business and sport law professor at Stetson University in Florida , said sports teams are just like any other businesses  and must increase revenue to meet growing expenses. 

“[The Bears] have a lot of history, tradition and a loyal fanbase,” Galloway said. “They’re an institution in Chicago. When all is said and done, they will pull it off.” 

Generally, ticket prices across the NFL are increasing, Galloway said. The  Eagles, Chargers and Lions have announced price hikes during the offseason for the  upcoming season, too. Teams also have to factor in other aspects of business unique to professional teams, such as escalating player salaries and the ever-growing pressure to expand the fan experience, Galloway added. This includes providing in-stadium wifi, more impressive video boards and updated stadium facilities to be accessible for all fans. 

To address these needs, sometimes a team sees fit to raise ticket prices, according to Galloway.  This is a not particularly risky business in the NFL because fans have continued to come when prices were increased, she added. 

“How the team performs on the field is going to be the most determinative about whether or not people come out to games, not so much what the ticket prices are,” Galloway said.