Recently we discussed the Cubs’ ballooning television ratings (vis a vis their former selves) and how that can prove to be hugely valuable to the future of the organization.
Similarly, but perhaps even more immediately and directly, the Cubs’ regular season attendance figures will directly impact the organization’s spending ability in this and future offseasons.
Luckily … the numbers are very good.
In fact, the 3,232,420 in attendance is the third best in Chicago Cubs history, behind only the 2007 (3,252,462) and 2008 (3,300,200) teams, and represents just the ninth time the Cubs have exceeded 3 million in a single season.
I’m sure you understand the implications of high marks in attendance, but they can exceed the first, most obvious level.
Of course, in general, a greater attendance number indicates more tickets sold. More tickets sold = more revenue = more spending flexibility for the men in charge (well, and money to pay the men in charge). Of course, an increase in attendance tends also to lead to an increase in merchandise, concessions, etc. sold at the ballpark. It may seem inconsequential, but if you’ve ever paid for a beer or a hot dog at Wrigley Field, you know that more raw sales will lead to a lot more money.
On the less obvious side, an increase in attendance might just lead (or represent) an increase in general fandom and participation. Those types of measures – while difficult for the public to quantify – can play a big role in the future television deal, just like the rise in TV ratings did/will do. In short, there’s no scenario where a huge attendance showing is anything but good for the Chicago Cubs.
To be fair, though, they did win 103 games and had a highly-talented, likable team … shouldn’t they have performed even better than they did (or at least better than the 2007 and 2008 versions of themselves)? Well, not so fast. According to Craig Calcaterra at NBC Sports, overall MLB attendance figures dropped by 1.1% in the regular season to the lowest mark since 2010, despite big increases from teams like the Cubs.* So, then, the Cubs performed better than they have recently in spite of a league-wide trend in the other direction. Their final number, by the way, ranked fifth in baseball behind the Dodgers, Cardinals, Blue Jays and Giants.
Hopefully this upward trend carries on into 2017 and beyond, and the Cubs baseball operations department benefits from it.
*[Brett: I wonder if the many early-decided divisions this year played a big part in reducing incremental attendance in September.]