Attendance kvetching

Attendance kvetching
Back when things were still hunky-dory // Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune

The Cubs and Sox just finished up playing the worst-attended 3-game set of the Crosstown series that U.S. Cellular Field has ever hosted--95,808 total fans.

That's already not great sounding, but the Crosstown series carries a reputation of being the one series the Sox should always be able to sell out.  By that measure, clocking in at the low 30,000's in attendance each game is abject failure.  Worse yet, it's part of a trend; the second-worst showing came last season.

On the flip side, one might note that the two worst seasons for the Crosstown series have taken place since it was moved to the middle of the week, presumably to lighten the discourse in the stands and surrounding parking lots.  One also might note, that one of the primary reasons those series sell out is the patronage of Cubs fans, who are currently suffering through a rebuilding season.  There are obstacles to selling mid-week tickets at double the normal price other than the malaise of Sox fans.

But this is coming in the wake of Kenny Williams acknowledging poor attendance as a hindrance to future roster moves. Following that logic, if the poor attendance of the Crosstown series is really a  damning assessment of Sox fan interest, then those same fans are doomed to watch Orlando Hudson, if they are indeed watching.

There's a quick reaction of resentment to such a statement.  Fans aren't receptive to the notion that the shortcomings of the team are their financial responsibility, and there's reason for that.  For one, franchises values plug ahead regardless of whether or not attendance benchmarks are met, and Sox fans already bankroll profit-making exercises for their team, willingly or not.

But the focus of Wednesday's Twitter rabble on the matter focused on the direct transaction, and that the team isn't doing enough in their pricing to draw more fans, nor sympathy.

They're certainly not going out of their way.  As Chris Jaffe brilliantly compiled earlier this month, the Sox are firmly in the upper-third of baseball in terms of pricing, despite not having the intense demand their compatriots in that territory all share.

The pricing may match up with where the Sox stand in terms of highest payrolls in the recent year, but that's irrelevant.  Fans are customers, not business partners, and the success and watchability of the team determines the demand.  Since the Sox have delivered a single post-season club, but three losing ones in the six post-World Series seasons, faith in their ability to build a winner is low, making the high cost of paying ahead of time for success doubly unattractive.

If the prices are simply reflective of the cost of doing business in Chicago, or the attendance struggles are exacerbated by defiant fans lingering on past grievances, that's too bad, but also still the White Sox problem to fix.  Fan objections to product and cost are not going to go away because they're asked to, and fan perception that they're being guilt tripped is hardly the result of an completely unambiguous--or completely positive --message from Sox brass being twisted around.

If attendance is truly this big of a problem, The White Sox should be going out of their way to prod fans to come see the winner they can build, not vice-versa

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  • Given what I presume about the business of baseball, I presume that the crosstown series was moved to the middle of the week because, if the crosstown series is going to sell out anytime you play it, then you play it during the week when there is normally lower attendance. Cubs Mon-Wed and Brewers Fri-Sun is going to sell more tickets than the other way round. Presumably.

  • In reply to Chris Lamberti:

    That's a sound argument, though if that was their plan, it's pretty immediately backfired. In 2010--the last weekend series--I went to the Sunday game and saw an upper deck fight that went on for a half hour, but all reports of the Saturday night game indicate that it resembled the last 45 minutes of Children of Men

  • The worst part of paying $70 to watch my team be defeated by northsiders was being surrounded by mainly northsiders. In years past I feel like there was a more even split, but this year Cubs fans were able to taunt and yell and stand the whole game with no one to text "Rise Above" about it.

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    I knew that the horrific 2011 season was going to end the White Sox and I honestly believe a move out of town is going to come...I also believe that baseball as we know it is finally fading out as there are just too many fun things for fans to do with the advent of the internet etc...I also believe that it's high time for fans to hit back at MLB for taking advantage of their hearts and pulling as much of their disposable income out of their pockets to the point that some ballplayers are making $25 mil a year (a million would be enough) thanks to overpricing on tix, parking, concessions, merchandise etc...I applaud fans everywhere for staying away from ballparks until owners make it much more affordable (pretty much like next to free as fans should become studio audiences for the large number of fans watching at home. )

  • In reply to Jim Richards:

    I don't think the White Sox could find a much sweeter stadium deal or business relationship than the one they have with the city and state governments here. Reinsdorf is entrenched.

  • In reply to James Fegan:

    Mention Children of Men and folks get all apocalyptical.

  • In reply to Chris Lamberti:

    It's the shaky-cam, it stirs the blood

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    Baseball itself has become skewed because the dimensions are now all out of whack...The players became bigger and the fences were moved in! They should have been moved BACK accordingly...Now, a team's backup 2B is expected to hit 8-10 homers. With that said, teams gear their teams toward HR-hitters rather than the spectacular middle infielder, the types of which dazzled fans for decades...Take a look at an old clip from the 1970s...the players all resemble the size of Alexei Ramirez rather than today's model, Dayan Viciedo...A dazzling player like Luis Aparicio would only make it in today's baseball if he could play all infield positions and outfield, similar to Escobar.

  • In reply to Jim Richards:

    Saying players have gotten bigger is only half of it, they've gotten more athletic in every way. That means fielders have more range, hitters, yes, have more power, but pitchers also have more velocity. Moving fences in may just be pandering to the masses love of home runs, but the greater emphasis on home runs is also a result of the statistical revolution realizing how great their value is.

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