Cubs 2013 Attendance Watch

USA TODAY Sports

Some of the worst baseball-season weather in recent memory resulted in some of the smallest crowds at Wrigley Field in more than a decade, during the Cubs' first homestand of 2013.

In some ways, this post isn't really fair. I've been attending Cubs games for 50 years and I can't ever remember a homestand like this, with two games rained out, a third (April 11) played in mostly steady drizzle, a fourth (Thursday's) played in off-and-on rain, and all but one played in conditions that were either cold, windy, rainy or all three. Just one game (Opening Day) had weather conditions that could be described as "nice".

But it's not just the number of people in the house that's much smaller than previous years; the Cubs are selling fewer tickets, although that's probably also affected by the weather. As I did last year, here are the numbers announced by the Cubs for each of the eight games played in the just-completed homestand, and my guess as to how many actually showed up.

Date     Announced Crowd     In-House Estimate
4/8       4O,O83              32,OOO
4/9       3O,O65              14,OOO
4/11      25,46O               6,OOO
4/12      3O,996              16,OOO
4/13      34,778              2O,OOO
4/14      33,326              24,OOO
4/16      29,344              12,OOO
4/18      26,O83               4,OOO

Obviously, if you're going to play in the rain, not very many are going to show up. According to Paul Sullivan in the Tribune, only 168 fans were in the bleachers when Thursday's game started. I had estimated 200, so you can see at least that estimate of mine was pretty close. I try to put my estimates on the high side; while these figures are just estimates, my guess is that when the season is over, I'll be within five percent of the actual turnstile count.

The announced number of tickets sold for the first eight games was 250,135, an average of 31,267 per date. The total ranks 10th in the major leagues; the average ranks 12th, just behind the Nationals (31,662) and ahead of the Brewers (30,708). For comparison, the first eight home dates of 2012 drew 296,789, an average of 37,099. Having said that, that's not really a fair comparison, because the weather was better last year, and that count includes a home weekend against the Nationals and the first game of a second homestand (the first homestand of 2012 was seven dates). The total of my in-house estimates is 128,000, or 16,000 per date.

Still, in 2012 the first eight home dates included five where 37,000 tickets or more were sold. That was the case for just one of the games on this year's first homestand, and three of this year's early dates drew under 30,000 (and two more just barely over that benchmark).

These numbers will improve. They'd almost have to. The next homestand includes a weekend visit from the Reds, a pair of games with the Cardinals, and a likely makeup date from the Rangers rainout of this week (it hasn't been made official yet, but I'd expect that game to be made up Monday, May 6). That homestand, presuming it ever warms up and the sun comes out in Chicago, will give us a better indication of the direction of Cubs attendance in 2013.

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