The photo at the top of this post was taken during the ninth inning of Saturday's game... obviously, it doesn't reflect how many people were in the ballpark at any time Saturday night, but I wanted you to have a look at what Wrigley Field looked like as the clock approached midnight Saturday.
If the Cubs aren't worried about attendance for the rest of this summer, they should be. In the just-completed homestand, not one of the five crowds broke the 32,000 mark -- and even that would be 9,000 less than a sellout -- and Friday's announced 24,645 tickets sold was the smallest paid crowd in more than 11 years, since 23,686 paid to see the Dodgers and Cubs play on a 45-degree Friday, April 26, 2002.
Here are the numbers for this homestand:
Date Announced Crowd In-House Estimate 5/29 31,279 24,OOO 5/3O 31,968 27,OOO 5/31 24,645 18,OOO 6/1 31,465 2O,OOO 6/2 29,667 16,OOO
Here's more proof for Bud Selig, who is a big proponent of the intercity interleague rivalries, that these games are simply not the draws they once were. There's still one Cubs/White Sox game to be played due to last Tuesday's rainout at the Cell, but none of the other three games came anywhere close to a sellout. The Cubs priced the two games at Wrigley oddly; the bleachers were priced at "platinum" level, the second-highest tier, but the rest of the park was priced at "marquee" level, the highest of all price levels. For two weekdays in May, Cubs/White Sox games are not that sort of draw, in my view. More tickets would likely have been sold for the seating bowl had they priced them lower. Comparable things happened in New York, where none of the four Mets/Yankees games sold out, despite the Yankees beginning the set in first place. The two games at Citi Field sold only about two-thirds of available tickets. Dodgers/Angels games in Los Angeles: same thing, no sellouts, though that could be chalked up in part to the poor performance of the teams.
If I were scheduling these "rivalry" games going forward, I'd reduce them to one three-game series per year, alternating parks. That might bring back some of the buzz, and more fans wanting to attend.
The Cubs announced 149,024 tickets sold for the five-game homestand that ended Sunday, an average of 29,805. My in-house estimates totaled 105,000, or 21,000 per game. Obviously, bad weather held the in-house counts down, particularly Sunday, one of the coldest June days I can remember. For the season, the Cubs are at an announced total of 941,144 for 29 dates, an average of 32,453 per date. That's down from the end of the last homestand, when they had a per-game average of 33,005. The Cubs currently rank 10th in overall attendance and 12th in per-game average, just behind the Rockies and just ahead of the Brewers.
My in-house estimates for the season total 573,000, or 19,759 per date. That's up, just slightly, from the 19,500 I reported here after the last homestand. The Cubs are thus still averaging more than 12,800 no-shows per date. The weather, clearly, has a lot to do with this, along with team performance. Presumably, at least the weather will improve for the next homestand, which begins Friday.