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Saturday, December 22, 2012
Cubs, StubHub renew partnership

By Jon Greenberg

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs and secondary ticket giant StubHub announced Friday that they have renewed their relationship, ending a two-week stalemate.

Call it a Festivus miracle.

On Dec. 10, StubHub announced it had signed a five-year extension to serve as Major League Baseball Advanced Media’s “official fan to fan ticket marketplace.” StubHub also declared the Cubs, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels had opted out of the deal.

The Cubs told ESPNChicago.com they hadn’t opted out yet and were surprised at the announcement. A StubHub spokesman said the Cubs had been putting off their decision for weeks and were considered out of the deal. But he also noted the Cubs could opt back in at any time.

That time was this week.

There is at least one change. As part of the new five-year agreement, the Cubs are one of a handful of teams that will end StubHub sales six hours before game time. Previously the blackout window was two hours.

Cubs spokesman Julian Green called it “part of our efforts to continue to be aggressive in working to get tickets directly in the hands of fans.”

Why would the Cubs opt out in the first place? Earlier this offseason, the Cubs pulled season-ticket accounts totaling around 1,000 tickets from suspected ticket scalpers. The Cubs were also frustrated with the influx of cheap tickets listed on StubHub at the end of the season as the team careened toward 101 losses. Tickets were listed for 19 cents in the team's final series, creating what StubHub termed "bad optics."

With the new MLBAM deal, StubHub announced a new price floor of $6 and an upfront pricing policy that shows fees. Previously tickets could be listed for pennies, even though fees made the minimum $10.40. StubHub has also altered service and delivery fees.

The deal saves Cubs season-ticket holders some hassle, as many of them use StubHub to unload tickets. Cubs fans still would’ve been able to sell tickets on StubHub without the deal but might not have had the ability to turn paper tickets into electronic tickets, nor would buyers have been able to pick up tickets at Wrigley Field. StubHub is experimenting with mobile phone ticket transfers this season, but spokesman Glenn Lehrman said he isn't sure if it will be available at Wrigley.