Granted it was a Monday afternoon game – a holiday, though – but attendance yesterday at Wrigley was just 32,054 for Jorge Soler’s home debut. With capacity a touch over 41,000, when judged in isolation, it wasn’t necessarily a huge day at Wrigley Field.
The buzz for Soler wasn’t quite the same as when Javier Baez debuted, and I didn’t notice quite the same marketing blitz this time around, but you still wondered if there would be a bump, especially given how well Soler has performed so far. So, that’s the question: was there a Soler-related bump? As we know, the Cubs’ revenue picture right now is more sensitive to attendance than other large-market teams, so checking in on these attendance issues is of reasonable import.
Compared with the last few home Mondays, which were in the upper-20,000s, you might say there was a modest bump yesterday. Attendance was also in line with the 32,735, which is probably pretty good for a Monday afternoon in September. I’d argue that the holiday probably helped, as did the Cubs’ general positive play over the past couple months, which means the increase may not have been solely due to Soler. Still, it was likely a good day overall.
I remain of the opinion that individual players don’t do much for attendance – be they top prospects or top free agent signings – but I am still open to the possibility. Whatever the case, we do know for sure that positive fan energy heading into a season drives offseason ticket sales, and competitive play in-season drives additional incremental sales. Right now, both of those things are looking pretty good for the Cubs going into 2015.
Another positive sign? Attendance this season was expected to drop precipitously from the already-very-down 2.64 million the Cubs drew last year. Some projections had that number falling as low as 2.3 million this season, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. Indeed, per-game attendance this season is slightly up from last year, and they’re already about to cross over 2.2 million.
The Cubs have 15 home dates left – 7 of which come against the well-traveling Dodgers and Cardinals – and even at just 30,000 per game, they’d add another 450,000 in attendance. That would put the Cubs just about on part with 2013 attendance, which, although low in recent memory, would have to be viewed as a huge win for the sales and marketing staff. And, as we’ve discussed before: every dollar that comes in the door is put to use in the organization, so more attendance-related revenue is also a win, indirectly, for the baseball operations department.