The weather has generally been pretty good so far this spring, with no really frigid night games and one day already in the 70s. That, plus the team's better play and the debut of Kris Bryant, have made both the tickets-sold numbers and in-house estimates larger than they would have been at this time a year ago, even without the bleachers.
Since I wasn't at the last three games of this homestand, I asked BCB's Mike Bojanowski to make attendance estimates for me. He's usually helping me do this anyway, as the two of us consult and then arrive at a consensus figure.
Date Announced Crowd In-House Estimate 4/13 26,390 24,000 4/14 27,525 21,000 4/15 29,205 19,000 4/17 32,138 30,000 4/18 33,958 33,000 4/19 29,113 25,000
For the homestand, the announced total was 178,329, or 29,722 per date. The in-house estimates totaled 152,000, or 25,333 per date. That's an average of only 4,389 estimated no-shows per date, much lower than the past few years at this time of year. The reasons are pretty obvious. It would seem to me that Friday's debut game for Bryant might have sold 4,000 or 5,000 more tickets than that game would have sold if he hadn't been playing. And, people who couldn't make it Friday likely took advantage of the nice weather to see him on Saturday, making for a near-sellout (remember, official capacity without the bleacher is 35,969). The no-show numbers would likely have been even lower if the weather had been good on Sunday.
For the season, eight dates have sold 240,198 tickets, or 30,025 per date. The in-house estimates total 206,000, or 25,750 per date, which makes the average estimated no-show count 4,275 per date. That's way, way lower than it was at this time of year in 2014, for example, It's not directly comparable because the Cubs played far more home games by this time last year (13) than they have now. But I estimated over 12,000 no-shows per date for those games.
The Cubs' overall average ranks 20th in the major leagues. That's down about 10 spots from last year, and the 5,000 or so bleacher seats that are currently missing are the explanation for that; add even 4,000 bleacher seats per game to that average and the Cubs' ranking would jump nine spots. The 14 dates (remember, the rainout against the Cardinals will likely be made up after the bleachers are open, so more tickets can be sold) that the Cubs have a smaller capacity than usual will cost the team somewhere between 70,000 and 80,000 paid admissions this year.
It's clear that the buzz around the team and Bryant have made more people show up. The curiosity factor to see the new video board likely has something to do with it, too.
The Cubs have six more home games before the left- and center-field bleachers are scheduled to reopen May 11. If the team keeps playing well and the weather is good, attendance figures should be, as well.