The Cubs finished the 2015 regular season with a 10-game homestand. Seven of the games were against playoff contenders, six against division rivals.
So these numbers should not surprise you at all:
Date Announced Crowd In-House Estimate 9/18 40,846 40,000 9/19 40,994 40,000 9/20 40,962 41,000 9/21 34,373 34,000 9/22 36,270 33,000 9/23 37,559 36,000 9/25 40,432 38,000 9/26 41,150 41,000 9/27 40,617 41,000 9/28 40,552 38,000
As you can see, crowds were so good most of the homestand that one of my estimates was even higher than the announced total, leading to the first-ever "negative" no-show count. All seven of the games against contending teams sold over 40,000 tickets, essentially sellouts.
For this homestand, the Cubs sold 393,755 tickets, or 39,376 per date. My in-house estimates totalled 382,000, or 38,200 per date. That's a total of 11,755 estimated no-shows for the entire homestand -- just 1,176 per date, by far the lowest for any homestand since I've been doing this series. The reasons for that are obvious.
For the season, the Cubs sold 2,952,817 tickets (36,455 per date), missing three million by 47,183. That can almost entirely be attributed to the late opening of the bleachers. The Cubs had 14 dates on which there were no bleachers. With the new bleacher capacity of 5,500, that's 77,000 tickets. They had 12 other dates on which only the left- and center-field bleachers were open with about 2,000 seats per date unavailable, so 24,000 more tickets.
That's 101,000 possible tickets that could have been sold for those 26 dates, though of course with chilly, rainy weather much of April and May and the team not yet playing as well as it did later in the year, likely not all of those tickets would have been sold. But I'd think they would have sold half of them, which would have been enough to put the team over the three-million mark for the first time since 2011. They did increase this year by 307,699 tickets sold, which is an 11.6 percent increase over 2014.
For the season, my in-house estimates totalled 2,618,000, or 32,321 per date. That means total estimated no-shows this year were 334,817, or 4,134 across all the 81 home dates. That's less than half the per-date no-show count from 2014 (8,680 per date).
The Cubs' current rank in total attendance is sixth. Even with a few dates left in the season, that won't drop, as the six teams that rank below them have all also completed their home schedules. The Cubs rank sixth in average attendance per date, and that position, too, is likely to stay put. In 2014 the Cubs ranked 11th in both categories, so this year marks a significant jump.
BCB reader LifetimeCubsFan sent me some information about ticket pricing for this homestand:
Overall, watching the Cubs on the last homestand was much more popular and expensive than the previous two homestands. Via cubs.com, seven of the 10 games were sold out in the bleachers prior to the start of the game (and in five of those seven instances, the cubs.com price was over $100 per ticket before they sold out). For only the first two games against the Brewers could you get tickets on Stubhub at/near season-ticket holder prices. For the other eight games on Stubhub, the premium paid for bleacher seats was 113 percent above STH prices (more than double). However, for seven of the 10 games, ticket prices in the bleachers on Stubhub declined by at least 15 percent in the last 24 hours before the game. Only for game three against the Brewers, and the last two against the Pirates did prices remain stable. My guess is a corporate outing took many of the 9/23 tickets, and the Kris Bryant bobblehead on Saturday 9/26, and Sunday night / Jake Arrieta pitching on 9/27 could be the reasons for price stability in addition to pleasant weather. Below is a graph for the cheapest seat in the bleachers for the Saturday 9/19 game against the Cardinals. It remained elevated from 8/19 – 9/11 (range of $118 - $149), however prices cratered the last week from $149 to $59 and I have no explanation since I believe the weather was decent on 9/19.
I'm probably going to continue this series in 2016, even though many more games are likely going to sell out. LifetimeCubsFan estimates the Cubs could draw over 3.2 million in 2016, and that very well could be true. Hopefully we'll have some pricing data like the information he provided here as well.