Cubs 2013 Attendance Watch

David Banks

A couple of large mid-August crowds swelled the Cubs' announced attendance numbers, but there are still quite a few no-shows.

This longest homestand of the year featured two divisional rivals that brought quite a number of their own fans to Wrigley Field, although there were far more Cardinals fans for the weekend set than Reds fans for the three weekday games. The announced tickets-sold totals for the Reds series were nearly identical for all three dates. For the St. Louis set, the Saturday game was a sellout, even at marquee prices, but the other two games didn't draw full houses.

There are just 15 home games remaining, none of them against teams that draw well to Wrigley Field (the Brewers do, on occasion, but not likely this year with the bad season they're having). There should be some particular interest in the game Friday, August 30, as that's Ryne Sandberg's first appearance at Wrigley as a major-league manager.

Here are the numbers for the just-completed homestand:

Date     Announced Crowd     In-House Estimate
8/12      33,277              25,000
8/13      33,286              24,000
8/14      33,642              24,000
8/16      35,258              30,000
8/17      41,981              41,000
8/18      33,830              28,000
8/19      31,290              22,000
8/20      30,975              19,000
8/21      31,936              19,000
8/22      29,393              16,000

For the homestand, tickets sold totalled 334,868, or 33,487 per date; that's actually a bit lower than the previous homestand in late July and early August. My in-house estimates totalled 248,000, an average of 24,800 per date. That makes for an estimated no-show count of 8,687 per date, a number that is a bit higher than the previous homestand, even with the full house on August 17. The number is skewed a bit by the 16,000 estimated to be actually in Wrigley for Thursday's rain-delayed game; that number would certainly have been higher if the weather had been nicer.

The Cubs passed the two-million mark in attendance during this homestand (on August 17), and have now announced a total of 2,193,606 tickets sold in 2013. That's an average of 33,236 for the 66 dates so far. That's up slightly from the 33,192 average I reported here after the last homestand. The Cubs' total of tickets sold ranks 10th in MLB; the average ranks 12th, slightly behind the Nationals (33,290) and about 1,000 per date ahead of the Blue Jays (32,318, in 13th place).

My in-house estimates for 2013 now total 1,529,000, an average of 23,167 per date. That's the first time that average has crossed 23,000 this year; in the last update in this series the average was 22,875. I suspect that 23,167 number will drop as the season comes to a close. This number means the average estimated number of no-shows per date is 10,069, down slightly from the 10,317 I posted in the August 5 article in this series. That number could go either up or down as the season concludes; tickets-sold totals are likely to be down for the rest of the year, but if the weather is nice in September, the in-house total could be closer to the announced number.

If the Cubs continued on their current per-date average of tickets sold, they'd announce 498,540 total tickets sold for the rest of the year. If that happened, the total announced attendance for 2013 would be 2,692,146; that would be down 190,610 from last year, a decline of 6.6 percent. That's the best-case scenario; I doubt the Cubs will average anywhere close to 33,236 tickets sold per date for the rest of the season. Having three Saturday dates, the ones which usually draw best, will help, but I'd guess the average will be closer to 31,000, which was what it was for the first homestand this year. (Better weather would help.) If that happens, the Cubs' total tickets sold would be about 2.68 million, down seven percent, and the lowest season attendance total since 1998. It's possible, of course, that these numbers could be even lower; two games against the Marlins after Labor Day could draw the smallest crowds in 15 or more years.

It'll be interesting to see how the team draws for the final 15 home games, especially the last six; those two series are both against teams likely headed for the postseason (Braves and Pirates), but not teams that usually draw well at Wrigley.

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