Cubs 2014 Attendance Watch

Brian Kersey

The Cubs drew both small and large crowds for the homestand that ended Tuesday. And, a few comments about Cubs/White Sox attendance at the Cell.

An abbreviated five-game homestand with the Cardinals and White Sox brought some fairly large crowds, but also some smaller than expected. First, here are the numbers:

Date     Announced Crowd     In-House Estimate
5/2       28,160              17,000
5/3       37,874              31,000
5/4       30,023              19,000
5/5       33,146              21,000
5/6       34,305              27,000

For the homestand, total tickets sold were 163,506, an average of 32,702 per date. My total in-house estimates were 115,000, an average of 23,000 per date, so the team averaged about 9,702 no-shows per date. That's down considerably from the estimated over 12,000 no-shows per date I've noted in previous posts in this year's Attendance Watch series. The large number of Cardinals fans in town for the weekend set had a lot to do with that, as well as good turnouts for the two White Sox games despite frigid weather both nights.

The May 2 and May 4 Cardinals games were the lowest paid crowds for a Cubs/Cardinals matchup on the specific days of the week (Friday and Sunday respectively) in more than two decades. The frigid weather certainly had something to do with this.

The good tickets-sold numbers for the two games against the White Sox were almost certainly a result of the Cubs realizing that games against the White Sox in early May, on weeknights, weren't the draw that they might have been in previous years. In 2013 (granted, later in May, after Memorial Day), the Cubs priced these games at Marquee level (except in the bleachers, where they were Platinum level), and sold fewer tickets (30,631 and 31,279) despite better weather.

That's 5,541 more tickets sold for the two Cubs/Sox games at Wrigley in 2014 over 2013, all at the Gold (middle) pricing level. That's nine percent more tickets sold. Since I don't have access to Cubs revenue data, I don't know which year generated more gross revenue, but it would seem to me to be a better thing to sell more tickets.

The White Sox didn't appear to learn that lesson. They priced the two games at the Cell higher than any other game on their schedule, and drew the two smallest crowds in the 98-game history of Cubs/White Sox interleague play, 21,075 and 26,332, a total of 47,407. Last year the two games at the Cell sold 62,183 tickets. That's 30,631 on May 27 and 31,552 for the game that was supposed to be played on May 28, but wound up rained out and made up July 8. It's impossible to know whether any more tickets were sold between the rainout date and July 8, but given that the two figures are pretty close, the answer probably is "not many."

I think the White Sox cost themselves at least 10,000 paid admissions for the two games this year with higher prices. I spoke to one person who paid $83 for a lower-deck ticket in the outfield behind the White Sox bullpen; he told me the ticket seller "apologized" for the high price. Granted that it's harder to get people to go to games in early May than in late May -- and that's one of the reasons the Sox should have lowered prices. They'd have sold more tickets and certainly made more money on concessions.

Back to Wrigley attendance -- for the season, the Cubs have now sold 561,900 tickets for 18 home dates, an average of 31,217 per date. The average ranks ninth, a few hundred behind the Rockies, a few hundred ahead of the Brewers. The total also ranks ninth, between the same two teams. My in-house estimates for the season total 357,000, or 19,833 per date, so the average per-game no-show count drops to 11,384 from the 12,031 I reported in the last Attendance Watch post.

Speaking of the Brewers, they'll be the Cubs' next home opponent starting next Friday. With better weather, and Milwaukee currently doing well, some of their fans should make the trek down I-94. We'll see if that leads to bigger crowds at Wrigley.

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