Last month, I took a look at one of the least glamorous, least sexy topics a baseball writer can tackle this side of rosin bag supply chain studies*: attendance.
Outside of an in-stadium guessing game in the later innings, you don’t really think too much about attendance, especially as a Chicago Cubs fan, where the allure of Wrigley Field and the large season ticket holder base always propped up the attendance figure, regardless of the team.
Ah, but as I explained last month, Chicago Cubs fans are peculiarly situated to care about attendance. To reiterate the import of the discussion and to re-set-up where the story has been:
“For the Chicago Cubs, particularly in recent years, attendance has been something of a sore subject, as years of decline and then a deep rebuilding process have eroded annual attendance from a high of more than 3.25 million in 2007 and 2008, to just 2.65 million in 2013 and 2014. As a team without a mega television contract secured just yet, the Cubs are more sensitive to attendance as a driver of revenue than many other teams around baseball. And, since the mantra of the Ricketts Family is that the “closed circuit” of the organization puts revenue back into baseball operations after expenses, fluctuations in revenue—positive or negative—directly impact the organization’s baseball flexibility.
Thus, keeping an eye on attendance as the Cubs become more competitive is more important than you might otherwise think.
With significantly more buzz heading into the 2015 season than in recent years past, it would be fair to expect an early bump in attendance at Wrigley Field when compared to the last couple years. The headwind there, of course, is the lack of bleacher seating right now at the park, as the Cubs’ efforts to renovate the bleachers bled into the season. With the left- and center-field bleachers not expected to be open until May 11 (right field is slated for mid-June), the Cubs are down around 6,000 seats in their approximately 41,000-seat ballpark.”
From there, I checked in on the Cubs’ attendance to that point, concluding something along the lines of, “Yeah, it’s been pretty good for a stadium with no currently-available outfield seating.”
Well, the bleachers are now—halfway—available, the weather is starting to turn, and the Cubs are still competitive. How is attendance looking?
In short: still pretty good.