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Levine: Cubs Have Hope Of Selling Out Wrigley Field In 2016

By Bruce Levine--

CHICAGO (CBS) -- For the first time in their history, the Chicago Cubs could sell out Wrigley field for an entire season. The team's sudden rush to the top on the field has created a mad rush for tickets at Clark and Addison.

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts discussed the logistics of a possible season sellout at the Friendly Confines during an interview on 670 The Score last weekend.

"Gosh, I hope so," Ricketts said. "The real challenge to that is the early season games and unpredictable weather."

The Cubs averaged 36,540 fans per game in 2015, drawing 2,95 million total in attendance. That number was stunted due to construction in the bleachers, which blocked ticket sales in certain areas until mid-June. The Cubs estimated they could have sold another 100,000 tickets without the construction restraints, which would've taken them close to 38,000 per game.

The Cubs' largest single-season attendance total came in 2008, when they averaged more than 40,000 per game and sold 3.3 million tickets.

Selling out would be alien to the Cubs' habit of having some seats available on a daily basis. In this day and age of dynamic ticket prices, holding some seats back creates more revenue on the base ticket.

"The ticket sales are already selling at a stronger pace this offseason," Ricketts said. "To get a total sellout, it will be about getting people to brave the early season weather. That will be our challenge."

The San Francisco Giants have more than 400 straight sellouts as the 2016 season approach. Of course, the Giants have won three World Series championships since 2010, fueling the rush for tickets.

In 2013, amid their years-long rebuild, the Cubs' attendance tumbled to 2.6 million (the lowest since 1998), down about 7000,000 fans from the peak in 2008. That's clearly back on the upswing, and the Cubs also returned to being the top draw on the road in 2015, playing in front of 36,000-plus on average in opponents' ballparks last year.

The Cubs have already sold 2 million tickets for 2016, according to sources. The franchise has a season-ticket waiting list that has skyrocketed up to 100,000 people this offseason.

"The league makes sure you hold back (thousands) of tickets for playoff games," Ricketts said. "They are for advertisers and dignitaries that MLB must take care of. We would not want to sell a season ticket and tell that person he may not have access to postseason tickets. With a very competitive team on the field, we will do very well in ticket sales. We will keep most of the bleacher tickets open for daily sales. We want people to come to the park and have a great time. Who knows, you may meet your future wife in the bleachers."

That last reference? Ricketts met his wife Cecelia in the bleachers during a game in 1984.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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