I’m not usually one to take too much stock in attendance during the baseball season. Quite honestly, I’m so sick of hearing cub fans lean on it as their way to convince themselves their franchise ISN’T the biggest joke in sports because they can sell tickets to their museum, I don’t even like to talk about it. In terms of the play on the field, attendance seems irrelevant. But, Is it important for revenue? Of course it is. Does revenue put better players on the field? For anyone but the cubs, it usually does. Do better players give your team a better chance to succeed? Again, for most anyone but the cubs…..
But I’m a White Sox fan, I’m used to the stadium having a few empty seats throughout the course of a season, as long as the team is showing up every night and respecting the game, I’m happy. If the team is winning, its a very nice bonus. However, this season I’ve started to give attendance a little bit of viability. The White Sox are in first place and we’re in August. Although we’ve been seeing some above average attendance these past few weeks (exceeding 30K), I was a little disappointed at tonight’s game. When my cousin and all around baseball Guru, Garrett Guest (Scout for the Detroit Tigers, follow him on twitter @garth432b) suggested I get on here and blog at my fellow Sox fans about getting out to the park to support this team, I figured it was about that time to have my first attendance discussion with you all.
I went to the park straight from work and the atmosphere outside was pretty festive. There seemed to be a steady flow of fans entering the Cell and I was expecting a 35,000+ turn out. My reasoning for such an expectation can be summed up by the following thought process:
Its a Friday night
We’re in first place (in August)
The weather is beautiful
The A’s are in town, they’ve been hot and are contending for the wild card
That is the formula/thought process that has been drilled into my head growing up a White Sox fan. You see, White Sox fans are an interesting bunch to try and figure out. From my experience I would chronologically chart the flow of attendance by month like this:
April: We draw around 20K, between the bad weather and the usual uncertainty about the type of team we’ll be getting for that upcoming season, Sox fans keep their hard earned cash in their wallets (understandably so).
May: We draw a little more on the weekends and on certain special price nights as the college kids are usually home and the weather starts to improve. Depending on how the team is doing and what teams are in town, we might see a few upper 20,000′s game here and there.
June: We’re drawing between 23-26 K on a pretty consistent basis (depending on the quality of team we’re dealing with). Half price Monday’s pull in a 30ish thousand game maybe once or twice for the month (depending on the schedule). But mainly steady decent crowds.
July: The weather has fully heated up by now and on nice weekend days and promotional/ticket deal nights we’ll see a crowd over 30 K with a steady, daily crowd of 24-28 K (depending on the matchup and the teams spot in the standings)
August: If the team is in the race, divisional night games and weekend games can and will pull in the mid 30′s. Normal weekday and weeknight games will see about 28 K. If the team isn’t in it, we might see mid to low 20′s. But usually in a tight race with big match ups coming in, we’ll push the envelope from 34-37 K (as we’ve seen a few times this month already).
September: If we’re in the race, the crowds will push 30 K on weekends and most weeknights. The weekday games are always a tough draw (assuming there isn’t a clincher or promotion on the line). If we’re out of it, we’ll sit in the mid 20′s.
October: Assuming this means we’re into the post season, Sox fans will finally be convinced enough to spend their money, we’ll see sellouts.
Why does it play out like this each and every year? Because of the mindset and the demographic that make up Sox fans. We’re talking about blue collar, hard working people, who are more likely to save their money then spend it on tickets to a rainy day game in April with question marks surrounding the team. We work too hard for our money to spend it to see a bad team play. Even when the team is contending, we’ve seen our Sox fall apart late or outplayed down the stretch too many times to really put our money where our mouths are until we’re sure our team isn’t going to be a tease. Weeknights for 75% of the year are tough draws because a lot of people work all day and would rather save the money, go home and pop the game on the TV. Does that make us any less knowledgeable about the game or our team? No. Does it make us bad fans? No. I think it makes us smart to be quite honest.
As a White Sox fan, attendance has always been thrown in my face by ignorant cub fans. Trying to label a ball club or their fans by their attendance numbers is stupid. The cubs are the best example of how little a sell out crowd can positively impact the results on the field. I would rather have a stadium 75% full with actual baseball fans in the seats and a winning ball club on the field, than have a sell out with a bunch of social hour yuppies in the seats with a last place club on the field, any day.
Now, with that being said Sox fans, the time has come…. we can trust this team, they’re in the race and they’re going to be in the race. They have proved to be ticket worthy, so we need to get out and put some asses in the seats There’s about a month and a half left to play this year and we’re in first place. This club has passed the test and its time to unify at 35th and Shields and experience the pennant race first hand. I’m right there with all of you in terms of attendance, like I’ve said it doesn’t mean much to me until our players prove that they deserve our attendance and folks, this team has done just that. They’ve been finding ways to win, they play hard, they battle in every game and they’re fun to watch. No more excuses for empty seats. Time to fill the park.
Let me just finish by saying, when you’re watching a Sox game in that stadium and the seats are packed, there’s nothing like it. The electricity in the air combines with the attentiveness of each fan as each play becomes seemingly imperative. The pride you will feel as a White Sox fan in an atmosphere like that, is untouchable. Those are the games that draw future generations to the park simply through a spoken memory by an elder and those are the games that we as fans live for. Lets bring those games back to the South Side.