The Fight For Tickets

There is always one day each year where Cubs fans are excited about being a Cubs fan and this year was especially exciting. That special day couldn’t get here soon enough this year, especially after the Cubs spent millions of dollars bringing in new players and keeping existing talent. The special day I refer to is the day Cubs fans can get single game tickets for the upcoming season. This year that day was February 23rd so if you didn’t realize it yet, Cubs tickets are available, at least for most games. Each year certain games sell better than others do and there is always a run on the intercity games vs. The White Sox. With that comes opening day and the games vs. the Cardinals and Astros. After that, they snatch up the tickets for the weekend games during the summer months.

This year was my third year of the ritual to get Cubs tickets. With the Internet, ordering tickets has been different in the last few years compared to ordering them on the phone before the Internet was around. You can now buy tickets with relative ease, if you know how to work the system. After three years, I feel I have a good idea how to get good Cubs tickets and anymore you need one to get decent tickets. In the last few years, I have taken a liking to sitting in the bleachers and those are some of the hottest tickets when you try to get them for any of the games. The day the tickets go on sale, the bleacher seats are usually one of the first to go. If you are over 18 and not taking kids, it is the best place to see the game, in my opinion. When I take my kids though, I stay as far away from the bleachers as I can.

The special day was last Friday. Unlike the last couple of years, I took the day off work so I could focus solely on the task at hand. I had the necessary equipment at my disposal so I was ready to get to work:

One higher-end desktop PC
One lower-end PC
My laptop from work
Credit Card for buying tickets

This gave me three computers to use to get into the Virtual Waiting Rooms. Now having three would normally increase your chances by three times, if you used them how many people do. I, however, have learned a trick that some know but many others do not. Once you get into one virtual waiting room, you have some different choices to get into many more on the same PC. You can copy the URL from your browser, open other browser windows and copy and paste it into those other windows. A better alternative is to go into your browser settings and set the copied URL as your home page, just temporarily. Once you do this, every time you open a new browser window you get into another virtual waiting room.

Now the number of virtual waiting rooms you can have open, and still be able to function, depends on how good your PC is. I don’t have any data on what you should open but you will know when you get there. Your PC will slow to a crawl once you open too many so as a rule I open about 25 per PC. On my higher end PC I had about 60 open and it didn’t kill my pc at all.

One change this year that I found out didn’t work well was the new tabbed browsing available in IE7. If you haven’t seen it yet, it allows you to have many windows open within one browser, which makes it easier to switch from website to website. When buying Cubs tickets it was a hindrance because when you switch from the Virtual Waiting Room to the ticket window it changes the title of the window. If you have all the windows tiled on your monitor, you can see this change and jump on your chance at tickets. With the tabbed browsing, you have to click through each tab to see if you have made it in and that slowed things down. Live and learn I guess.

Last Friday I started on “Operation Get Cubs Tickets” about 9:30. That is when they allow you into the Virtual Waiting Rooms. I don’t think being there early makes a difference but it does take time to get that many windows open so I wanted to be ready when the 10am time hit. Once the time arrived, I was anxious. How quickly would I get in and get a chance to buy tickets. I also was unsure how the new tabbed browsing would work so I wasn’t sure what kind of luck I would have. I sat and waited, watching my three monitors full of virtual waiting room windows, hoping for a hit.

I saw no action for the first 10 to 15 minutes. I started to wonder about the tabs so I started clicking through them, as I explained earlier. My fears were confirmed; I had a ticket window available but received no notice from my browser that I had been given the chance. I quickly jumped in and tried for tickets to the May 19th game vs. the White Sox. I chose the max number of tickets, six, chose bleacher seats and hit the continue button to place the order. Almost immediately, I got back a message stating that due to high demand my request couldn’t be processed. I hit continue a few more times without luck.

At that point, my thoughts of seeing the White Sox vs. Cubs were fading so I went to another game I needed to get. August 4th I have a trip planned with some friends of mine so I went on to try to get tickets for that game vs. Mets. Same as before, choose six tickets, then bleacher seats and continue. I again get a message that it can’t process my request because it is busy. I hit continue a couple more times and luck is on my side. I am on to the next window where I have to type in the crazy auto-generated code. As I am going from one screen to the next I they give me a time limit to fill in the needed information, like I need more pressure. I get my information entered and I am off to the payment window where I quickly pay for my tickets. Success, I have six of the tickets I needed taken care of and it is only about 10:20am. I am feeling lucky.

Once I close that window I head back to the other virtual waiting room windows, click through the tabs again, and don’t see any more available ticket windows. I sit and wait, watching my three monitors again, hoping for another chance. Soon I have yet another ticket window available and this time I am going for six tickets to the June 16th game vs. San Diego. We are doing a couples trip and this was our second choice. I get in and go through the same process, get the same message stating they are busy but I am learning that if you keep clicking on continue you will eventually make it past that point. I make it through that gauntlet and buy the six bleacher tickets to see the Padres. Then, I picture Greg Maddux vs. Carlos Zambrano in a classic pitching duel – The old master vs. The young horse. Should be a good game, even if neither one is pitching.

At this point, I have 12 tickets for two Cubs games, all in the bleachers. Since I saw what it took to get past that busy message, I go back and try again to see what might still be available for the May 19th White Sox game. I see another open ticket window and give it a go. I pick six tickets, choose bleachers and click Continue. Busy, repeatedly. I keep trying but I eventually start to see a new message stating they don’t have the quantity available in that section. Bleacher seats are gone for May 19th.

I would have loved to be at the game on the 19th but it wasn’t meant to be. I quickly take a look at the schedule and notice the game on the 20th starts at 1:20pm. We could technically hit that game and still head home afterwards so we can have the kids back home for school on Monday. I live in Iowa so it is a 3 1/2 to 4-hour drive home. I use the same window I was just using and go back and change the date to the 20th. I choose six bleacher tickets and click continue. Again, I get the message stating it is busy. I am persistent and finally I am through. I push through and pay and six tickets to see the White Sox are mine.

This gives me 18 tickets to three different Cubs games. I have had a successful day in buying Cubs tickets, something I haven’t been able to do before. For those that have had trouble getting tickets I hope this helps you in the future. I am not cheating the system, just trying to increase my chances for tickets, something that anyone can do. Even if you have only one PC, you can get about 25 virtual waiting room windows open, which increases your chances. Going into Friday I thought I would really have to get lucky to get all the tickets I wanted. I may have been lucky or the system I used helped my chances. Either way you look at it, I had some success this year and I wanted to let others in on the way I did it, even if you can’t use it until next year. One important thing to remember though, you can also use this method for playoff tickets….so remember this if the Cubs make the playoffs. Go Cubs!!

Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne