The Cubs wrapped up the Wrigley Field portion of the 2023 regular season with a win over the Rockies Sunday afternoon. They won 45 of the 81 games played, and with the team in contention, attendance did rise over the 2022 season.
The Cubs sold 2,775,149 tickets for 2023. That total ranks ninth in MLB, and no one’s going to catch that number over the season’s final week, so that will be the team’s final ranking.
The per-game average is 34,261, which also ranks ninth, and with the Red Sox 10th and Angels 11th and both more than 1,000 below that average, that position will also remain the same.
The total is up about six percent from last year, but still below the three million that the Cubs generally use as a benchmark for a well-attended season. That mark was last achieved by the Cubs in 2019.
Lastly, the Cubs had no postponements in 2023, so no doubleheaders were played at Wrigley this year, compared to six in 2022 (though three of those were because of the owners’ lockout). There were a few games delayed, notably during the first weekend in July when the Guardians were at Wrigley, when rain delays and starting times pushed back amounted to seven hours’ worth of delays. Apart from that, the Cubs were pretty lucky with good weather in 2023, even in early April, and avoided having home games played in extreme heat, too.
Those are the basics. For some analysis — with charts! — as usual, I turn the rest of this post over to BCBer Lifetime Cubs Fan, who did another excellent write-up for us.
When I did my last writeup in August after 65 home games, the Cubs’ average attendance was 34,429. Given the Cubs were in the midst of a playoff push (for both the N.L. Central and Wild Card), if you would have told me at season’s end, the average attendance would have dropped over the last 16 games, my reply might have been “Yeah, right, and next you will tell me that Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce will become an item.”
Well, both occurred as the Cubs’ average attendance for the last 16 games was 33,580, bringing the average attendance for the year down to 34,261 and the internet is abuzz about Taylor and Travis. See the chart below comparing last 16 games of the 2015, 2022, and 2023 seasons. In 2015, when the Cubs made the playoffs as a Wild Card, the average attendance over the last 16 games was 38,169. I guess 107 years from a championship has a different pent-up demand versus just seven years of waiting.
Though the average attendance increased 6 percent from last year, the average attendance of 34,261 was the fourth-lowest average attendance since 2003. See the chart below, the covid years of 2020 and 2021 are excluded.
The subdued attendance in a playoff push confirms what I have indicated for some time, September games (Monday – Thursday) should be Bronze pricing tier games unless the games are against a premium opponent (White Sox, Red Sox, Yankees, Cardinals). If there is extraordinary demand for the September weekday games, dynamic pricing can kick in to maximize revenue for the Cubs. Outside of the Saturday and Labor Day games, prices for Bleacher tickets on the secondary market for the last 16 games were near or below what a season-ticket holder paid. Here are the specifics:
The upcoming week of games will be very interesting. Since the Brewers are likely to end up as the Division winners before the series with in Milwaukee starts, I feel there will likely be even more Cubs’ fans than normal at that last series in Milwaukee. My son, who goes to ASU, saw one game against the D-backs in Arizona and he said Chase Field was 70 percent Cubs fans. It wouldn’t surprise me if that was the case in Milwaukee this weekend. At the time of this writing, you could get tickets on SeatGeek for $20 or less for each of the games, so who is going to take a road trip to Wisconsin?
I was fortunate to attend two of the last 16 games at Wrigley this year and felt there were very few no-shows. One of those games was the September 19 game delayed 85 minutes due to rain. I watched that game from the Marriott Bonvoy Suite — it’s well worth the points redemption, for those interested. The suites are so much better than before the Wrigley renovation (comparing them to before renovation pictures), which is yet another example of how well the renovation was executed. Lastly, at that game I used the video board to wish my daughters Happy Birthday. For those interested, don’t convert the cost to an hourly rate, rather, think of it as a great donation to Cubs Charities while providing a great memory to all those involved!
I hope I’ll be able to have a writeup around pricing trends for Cubs playoff games in 2023. This team has a lot of fight in them. As always, curious to hear your thoughts and Go Cubs!