Chicago Cubs Final Home Attendance Underscores Why the Team is Going to Be Aggressive This Offseason

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Chicago Cubs Final Home Attendance Underscores Why the Team is Going to Be Aggressive This Offseason

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs’ final home attendance for 2022 was just about 2.62 million, which was a pretty stark drop from the years that immediately preceded the pandemic:

2019: 3.09 million
2018: 3.18 million
2017: 3.20 million
2016: 3.23 million
2015: 2.92 million

None of that is surprising, of course. You have the combined impact of a challenging financial environment, changing entertainment patterns at a macro level, the lingering pandemic concerns for many, some early-season frustration about the lockout, and … oh, ah, right, the not-very-good baseball team.

Yeah. That’s the big one.

Indeed – not coincidentally – you have to go back to 2013 and 2014 to find attendance numbers for the Chicago Cubs that roughly match this past season. That, of course, was the last time the Cubs were in a rebuilding process.

People talk about how winning-insensitive Cubs attendance is – that the fans will come out no matter what because of the fun environment and the history of Wrigley Field – but it’s not as true as some make it out to be. There are absolutely crests and nadirs tied to the success and failure of the team on the field. Ownership and the business side ABSOLUTELY want to see the Cubs be competitive, and that’s to say nothing of the impact on Marquee’s ratings, which history suggests is even more pronounced.

As compared to the league, the Cubs’ home attendance average of 32,305 was just 11th in baseball. It was nearly NINE THOUSAND fewer tickets sold per game compared to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cubs left a whole lotta short-term revenue on the table in 2022 by not being competitive.

That doesn’t mean baseball operations will be urged to spend to some outrageous extent SOLELY to try to put asses in the seats, but it SHOULD mean that baseball operations will be supported in an effort to spend toward winning in 2023.

Here’s how Patrick Mooney put it:

The Cubs finished this year’s Wrigley Field schedule with their lowest total attendance (2,616,780) since 1997 (excluding the pandemic-restricted 2020 and 2021 seasons) as well as a 37-44 home record that did not line up with all the “It’s Different Here” optimism. At the ownership level and on the business side of the organization, Cubs executives aren’t going to panic about the attendance dips and pressure Hoyer to bring back Contreras and sign some star players this winter.

After the Yu Darvish salary-dump deal and sell-offs at the last two trade deadlines, Hoyer’s department doesn’t need a winning record in September and October to get the green light to spend money this offseason, either. It’s simply in everyone’s best interests in Wrigleyville — from business and baseball operations to the Marquee studios to Hotel Zachary to Murphy’s Bleachers — for the Cubs to put a competitive product on the field next season and reinvest in a roster that has been cut to the bone.

It is simply in everyone’s interest for the Cubs to be a whole lot better in 2023, and given the spartan level of payroll at the moment, that is absolutely going to mean the ability to spend significantly. The Cubs have already all but said it as loudly as they can, and I’m telling you that the data screams it, too.

Can you ever guarantee that you will land your top target or three? No. Do you decide in advance that there is NO price you wouldn’t pay for Specific Player X? No.

But might you have to get a little bit irrational to get the guys you most want? Yes! Do you have the ability, especially on shorter-term deals, to absorb mistakes of scale if you go a little too high on the AAV? Yes! Can you afford to take on some other team’s large deal that they now want to unload for a quantity of depth prospects? Yes!

The nature of the roster and farm system is such that the Cubs have an opportunity to turn this thing into an 85-ish win team on paper pretty easily come March (if not better). Spending, alone, does not create a winner. But spending makes it a helluva lot easier! Baseball operations knows that. The business side knows that. Ownership knows that. And all three are absolutely going to be in alignment this offseason.

That was already true. The final attendance figures simply underscore it.

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.