As far as attendance, the Cubs have a lot of things in their favor. They're a long established team rooted in the Midwest. I find most cities in the midwest and northeast tend to be extremely dedicated to their sports teams no matter the situation. The people of those cities, for the most part, stay rooted in the area.
Alternatively, people in the south or west are often times only a few generations new to the area, or the sports team in that area isn't that old either. The generations of sporting tradition never took hold in these geographical areas during the rise of sports, therefore creating weaker sports markets. Examples of this would be Houston, Seattle, and Denver.
Secondly, the Cubs also are located in a perfect spot to boost attendance. Wrigleyville as an area is one of the best stadium areas I've visited. You can go to the game and then to a bar right afterwards as many Cub games precede the evening games.
I want to say Wrigley seats are also fairly cheap compared to several other stadiums nationally. I can't remember what I paid for many stadiums I've been to, so that may be incorrect.
The Cubs still suck.
that is why they scribbled that all over him to give him shit.
Big cubs fan as well, go to a game at least once a year, haven't sat in the bleachers yet though, it is a great fanbase. Still love how the world series drought is longer than many professional teams are old.
As a Cubs fan, I realize that for many, Cubs games are an event. While they sell out at a remarkable rate, many are there for the awesome experience that is a game at Wrigley. Having WGN broadcast most games nationally also increases the team profile. Many people see a Cubs game as a tourist attraction. As far as knowledgeable, die hard fan bases go, I'm not sure how to judge us.
yeah I agree with that last part a lot; most fans know the players' names but thats about it. Which isn't a knock it actually makes it a pretty relaxed environment to see a game, except when milty tosses the ball into the stands with 2 outs, man I am glad he is gone. It really is an event.
I am a diehard White Sox fan. I'm not going to hide my bias here, but I have several opinions on this matter.
Ozzie Guillen summed it up best when he said, "Because our fans are not stupid like Cub fans. They know we're shit. Wrigley Field is just a bar."
I have no problem with actual Cub fans, but as you put it, Cub games are just fancy events. Their location and their jump on my million square foot bandwagon allows them to sell out their games constantly. Wrigleyville is a popular area for people to move to Chicago and they're always latching onto new fans. All in all, people go to the games because it basically is one giant bar where the fans can have fun, regardless of the product on the field. I've been to some Cub games, mostly when they play the Sox, and I sense that while there too. People are just there to have fun, not to watch and enjoy the product on the field. I know many Cub diehards, and they're great fans, but the overwhelming feeling in the stadium, and the reason they sellout no matter the product, is BECAUSE most of the fans aren't that emotionally invested in the product. Instead, they are invested in having a good time, which Wrigley provides.
That quote from Guillen was great and, as far as I can tell, completely true. I'm a Tigers fan who doesn't particularly like the White Sox or Guillen, but I think he was spot on with his explanation.
As a Cubs fan, I agree with you 100%. The only reason I am a Cubs fan is that I did not have cable growing up and the only teams I got to watch were the Cubs (WGN) and Braves (TBS). The 1998 Cubs were more exciting than the Braves thanks to Sammy Sosa, and that was the year I got into baseball.
You're right when you say Cubs fans don't generally know who's "good." They just know which player has a recognizable name, and which guy has been carrying the team lately, or dragging it down.
Compare that to some other fans bases that I've been exposed to, and every fan is concerned about thing like Wins-above-replacement, fly-ball ratios, batting average on balls in play, etc.
That's part of the allure of Wrigley field though - you go there to watch some baseball, but you don't need to bother learning all the statistics and sabermetrics. Instead you sit there, drink brews (at the bars before and after), check out the ladies and root for whatever player does well.
Capacity of 41k. 4th smallest park in the bigs in one of the largest markets.
That should probably have an asterisk next to it to stipulate that the 3rd largest market is split with the Sox who don't have near the size of the following and come no where close to selling out at the rate the Cubs do.
Wrigley is a great party place. But great fans? Not so sure. Being in the middle of yuppieville, the middle of the midwest, in the city, near a ton of bars, white, "safe," neighborhood, they will always have people in the stands. If that makes someone a fan, ok. But knowledgable fans? Not so sure about that.
That is your criteria? Dude, Ann Arbor is Yuppy Inc., fairly safe, has quite a few bars, and is in the Midwest. We've had how many sellouts? How in the world does that correlate with how knowledgeable the fans are?
The Lions sell out games more often than not.
I doubt that very much. I think the Thanksgiving Day game was their only sell out.
Not so. The Bears game was a sellout at the very end of the season. Believe they sold out at least one more, too. This coming at the end of a 2-14 season that followed an 0-16 season that followed the worst decade any NFL team has ever had with no prospect of getting much better in the near future.
Up until October 2008, every single game at Ford Field had been sold out, a streak that lasted from 2002 to 2008 and spanned 50 games. During this time the Lions were busy never winning more than 7 games in a season, and that only once - the rest of the seasons were 5-11 or worse.
If the criterion for "best fanbase" is "most loyal during bad times" I don't think anyone can hold a candle to Lions fans, except maybe Browns fans.
I can sum up in two words why the Lions sold out that game against the Bears -- "Bears Fans". It's a 5 hour drive to Detroit and Lions tickets are a whole hell of a lot easier to get than Bears tickets. And there's no divide, everyone is a Bears fan around here who is from here.
Basically, it's the same phenomenon that was happening 5 years ago with Blackhawks games against the Red Wings.
That would fail to explain why the Vikings and Steelers games were also sold out. The Steelers actually returned to the public a number of the tickets that were allotted to them.
When the Cubs actually reach the point where their fans are criticized for continuing to show up at the game despite the absolute putridity of their team (and believe me, the Cubs have a long way to go to match the Lions in that department) then I will entertain the notion that they are more loyal to a bad team than Lions fans. Detroiters have been taking heat this whole decade for going back to the stadium game after game and putting money in the pocket of a bad owner.
The Cubs won the division three times this decade. Hell, that's more success than the Tigers. Plenty of wins to keep the fans coming back for more. If Cubs fans ever have to put up with a 20-win season three times in a decade and yet have a six-season sellout streak, then maybe they can lay claim to as loyal a fanbase.
The Lions also play 10% the number of games as the Cubs.
With a corresponding decrease in ticket prices. It's much, much more expensive to go to a football game than a baseball game.
University of Michigan Wolverines football fan base
That's why I left it in the pro sports realm.
the Minnesota Wild have easily the best fan base in all of professional sports
didn't they lose the North Stars? How die hard can they if they lose a team?
hardcore enough to not be very good and still sell out every exhibition, regular season, and playoff game they have ever played in a small market that has a football, basketball, and baseball team also. not to be a dickhead, but i'm talking about the wild, not the north stars.
but that is ok because White Pony does rock! Especially Passenger with MJK.
if i could i would vote you president of mgoblog. that is my favorite song ever because TOOL and Deftones are my 2 favorite bands ever.
Mr. President, you should take a look at the wikipedia page for the North Stars. it gives the reasons for the relocation (marriage problems)
The Cubs can't have the die hard 'we have to win a championship every year' type crowd. I don't think any other franchise has as long a championship drought as they do and still sell out even when they are not in championship contention that year.
I'd say 1/2 the people that show up to Cubs games are transplants from other cities who have no rooting interest in the cubs, but want to go party. The vast majority of actually Cubs fans come from the wealthier northern suburbs (Lake Forest, Deerfield, Highland Park, etc.). Most of the people who grow up in Chicago proper, in my experience, are Sox fans.
Define best fanbase? Based on attendance when the team is poor?
I lived in Chicago (wrigleyville and ravenswood) for 7 years after college and went to at least 4 games per year. Half in the bleachers. I assume you realized it in 2008. Wrigley, and especially the bleachers, is an outdoor bar. A lot of the 'fans' don't know what is going on during the game. They are there to socialize and be part of the 'experience'.
Of course, there are always a percentage of fans that really get it and since Chicago is a big city, you'll probably see a greater number of them than Cleveland or Pittsburgh. Doesn't make them the best fanbase. I'm not sure you can really narrow down who the best fans are.
I'm a huge Cubs fan, the Cubs are the only reason I pay any attention to baseball. I love going to the games at Wrigley, even though every single one I've gone to has been a loss (I've been to ~8 or 9 games... my dad has been to 15-20 games, and every one he has been to has been a loss too).
But I love my Cubs more than any other professional sport team that I'm a fan of (my Michigan fandom takes an overwhelming first place spot, so the dominance of my Cubs love is limited to pro sports), even though baseball is my least favorite of the big 4 sports to watch.
And I'll totally admit to being crazy for being a diehard Cubs fan. But then again, my high school football team went winless my senior year, so I'm used to that sort of thing (then we picked up a guy who used to be an assistant coach at Michigan/head coach at Navy/head coach at Western Michigan and all of a sudden are amazing).
And I got way off topic there.
I love the Cubs, and live 3 blocks from Wrigley. The fans are great... but I know the OP's question is going to stir some emotions (as this board has delved into pro-Cubs v. anti-Cubs rants in the past).
But, no matter your opinion of the fanbase themselves, I will state that without a doubt Wrigley is located in the best location than any other stadium/field/Rink/Arena in professional sports: Location, Location Location
1) It is in the middle of a middle to upper class neighborhood in the 3rd largest City in the Country... it's safe, it's young, it's fun
2) It is literally right off the Red Line for easy public tran access for those who don't want to drive
3) It is walking distance from the homes of a few thousand fans each game
4) There are literally 50+ bars walking distance from the stadium to bring people in early, and invite them to stay late
5) Win or lose, fan of the Cubs or a visitor, you will have a blast at Wrigley
So, to suggest an answer to your question (and to the delight of whiney White Sox fans everywhere).. the reason for the sell-outs for a 4th place team is not because of the Cubs (per se) but for the experience and party that surrounds Wrigley.
As a side note... just walking around Wrigley and the bars the last couple years while Elton John, Jimmy Buffett, Rascal Flats, and The Police played at Wrigley was amazing... party atmosphere, people having a blast, and most were from the neighborhood or close by.
It's not in the middle of middle to upper class. You realize that Uptown is located right next to Wrigley? And I definitely wouldn't call it safe. Any time you have the Red Line (or any CTA stop), you have trouble.
Try to find a 2 bedroom / 2 bath condo anywhere walking distance to Wrigley for less than $375,000.
Unless you are The Millionaire from Gilligan's Island, I would assume you'd agree that in America, a neighborhood filled with $375,000 - $1,000,000 homes is "Middle to upper class."
And, no, Uptown is not "right next to" Wrigleyville as Wrigleyville is surrounded by the neighborhood "Lakeview"... and either way, Uptown is significantly different than it was 5-10 years ago... gentrigication has many ways to turn a "bad" neighborhood "good".
EDIT: JTMac- we're on the same page, buddy. That guy's post was just ridiculous re: Lakeview/WVille/Uptown/the red line.
A couple disclaimers:
1. I hate the Cubs; I am a St. Louis Cardinals fan;
2. I live right off the Red Line- at Halsted and Willow (1 block North of North Avenue, right by the Black Duck; a block from all of those uber-expensive houses on Burling).
So, now that we've gotten those out of the way, are you trying to say that on a game day or game night, Wrigleyville is unsafe? Compared to where? Beverly Hills, CA? Singapore? Further, Uptown does border Lakeview, which is the larger area that encompasses Wrigleyville (as well as other neighborhoods), but saying Wrigleyville borders Uptown and that either are categorically "unsafe" is absurd.
Also, this claim re: "red line." I am assuming you mean that, because the Red Line goes to the South Side and wide swaths of the city on the South side where the population consists mostly of urban poor, that somehow, 10 miles north of there, at Addison, it is unsafe because, you know, people who live in a completely different part of town sometimes use the same train?
Christ, I'd like to see your definition of "safe" gameday atmosphere. Not to mention, the statement about the Red Line is categorically ignorant. In that case, you can't take the Blue Line because, you know, it stops near some bad areas where there are gangs. (The Division stop, even though this is right in Wicker Park, and the Fullerton stop). Or the Green Line (the entire west side, even though it also runs to Hyde Park), or so on and so forth. I guess only the purple and brown lines because they only serve the north side and downtown? And who's to say people can't, you know, transfer trains? Oh noes! The Red Line! Haha. I just find this humorous. I ride the red line ever single day, to and from downtown from the North Side.
There are shitty neighborhoods on the Red Line a whole lot closer to Wrigley than the bad areas on the South Side. Getting off the Red at Wilson is no picnic -- that area has street fights and gun fights all the freaking time. Their alderman for that area is awful.
That said, Wrigleyville is definitely not an unsafe area. The biggest danger is drunken meatheads deciding you looked at them the wrong way and beating the tar out of you. Or a road raging Cubs fan shooting you, as happened outside of Wrigley a few years ago. Or someone pissing on your car or building after a game.
I'm comparing to the national average. And I'm not just talking about the red line. Which, if you know, has some relatively bad areas north of Wrigley, towards the Howard stop.
I've moved from Chicago in December of 06. So maybe I'm off base and can't back up what has improved since the beginning of 07.
But a quick google stalk of dated data (I think 2005) on crimes near El Stations.
"Earlier research found that in Chicago neighborhoods with relatively little crime, robberies were concentrated in the first two or three blocks away from rapid transit stations and peaked at about 1.5 blocks from the station. In neighborhoods with many robberies, distance from a rapid transit station was unrelated to number of street robberies."
And based off demographic info, Wrigleyville (60657, 60613) has a high rate of robberies. So maybe the distance from the stop doesn't matter.
I don't know. Maybe I'm over reacting and maybe remember the multiple attacks and rapes of women near Wrigley a few years back. I'm willing to admit I'm wrong.
Wirgleyville has street-crime like purse-snatching because 40,000+ wasted people stumble around it 82 times a year, not to mention the multitude of 22-25 year old drunk idiots to be found on any weekend. Wrigleyville, Lincoln Park, and Lakeview are all disproportionately high in street crime because of the preponderance of young, drunk, naive, irresponsible people stumbling around.
Violent crime, on the other hand, is virtually non-existent (except, as you note, in '06, there was one rapist going around) and property values are consequently very high. Further, I wouldn't call Uptown "close" it would probably take you 25 to 30 minutes to walk to it from Wrigley Field. And finally - Uptown isn't really what I'd call "dangerous". Is it a little dirtier? Sure. But there are plenty of well trodden destinations (The Green Mill, The Riviera, the Aragon Ballroom) and any number of nice condos, bars, and restraunts I'd have no hesitation going to.
jtmc33 is dead-on and Duncan you are out of your mind.
why does access to public transportation frighten you?
Being supportive of your team (showing up to games) regardless of the quality of the team that year.
I think that we have a very passionate following. To experience Wrigley Field is to experience baseball the way the Good Lord envisioned it. Day baseball, the Ivy-covered walls, the rooftops, the manual scoreboard, the seventh inning stretch and the beloved boys in blue pinstripes. Those who are true Cubs fans enjoy this team, because of all the good it represents, and we all hope that someday we can win like the Red and White Sox, who have both recently exercised their own demons. I am hopeful that we will be able to move forward with our new owners, and hope that we can build a strong minor league system and wonderful team.
It is rare that I have the feeling that I get when I enter that hallowed ground, and I can honestly say that I only feel that way when I walk into Fenway Park, Camden Yards, PNC Park and when I walked into the old Tiger Stadium. As a Michigan football fan, I thank the heavens that I am able to walk into such a cathedral as Michigan Stadium, which does not have many companions in her fair sport (Lambeau Field, Soldier Field, the Rose Bowl, Notre Dame Stadium to name a few).
The Cardinals have the best fans in baseball. Did anyone see the All Star game this year? Players give discounts all the time to stay in St. Louis because of the fans
I can think of two in the last twelve years. McGwire and Edmonds. Matt Holliday certainly didn't take a discount. The Cardinals were basically bidding against themselves and gave him a huge contract.
Sorry, but the "hometown discount" is as much a myth as the reputation Cardinal fans have as being the best in baseball.
Fan base with a high baseball IQ, smaller market. Like Nieme08 said, players take a pay cut so they can play in St. Louis. The Cubs should have a couple of knocks on their fan base, given recent spate of high profile fan interference (think beer throwing Victorino incident).
Yep, we definitely should knock an entire fanbase because of one idiot.
Had to chime in - the Cubs are my favorite pro franchise, though I think both extremes of the argument are a little off.
To categorically claim Cubs fans are "bad fans" that don't know baseball isn't really correct. I became a cubs fan while watching WGN when I was younger (as I am sure is one root for many of the fans) and growing up outside the city I guarantee we have just as many knowledgeable fans as the next franchise.
Gameday in the stadium is absolutely different, a good number of people in the crowd are transplants (such as people who graduated in the Midwest and came to Chicago for work) or visitors and tourists. There are a lot of bandwagon fans and people just showing up for a good time.
Aside from the fact that Wrigley is truly a lay cathedral, and one of the most storied and cozy places to see a game, any sport, the fact that their games were broadcast on WGN has to be a factor.
I grew up in rural northern Michigan, but the Cubbies were televised and picked up on cable. That was back when hardly any baseball was televised. You could see the Tigers on opening day, Costas called the game of the week on Saturdays, there was the All-Star games and the playoffs, but that was it. So you had Harry Carey broadcasting day games, which hit right about when I got home from school. It was perfect. My family went to games when we were in Chicago. I was a Cubs fan (as well as a Tigers fan) until I was old enough to know better.
FWIW, back when I went to games, I remember being amazed at how knowledgeable and friendly the fans were. They knew the opposing players, there was generally a lot of conversation between fans. Tiger fans were more reserved.
Basically, it occurred in two waves. The first jump was in 1984 -- the first time the Cubs were winners while on WGN. In fact, the three years prior to 1984 they were significantly outdrawn by the White Sox, and back in the 1970's it was the White Sox who were known to draw the young, rowdy crowds. 1984 jumped them from the low 1 million area in attendance to the 2 million range. They remained there until 1998 (Sosa/McGwire), after which their attendence went up to the upper 2 millions with many of the games sold out.
The big increase in attendees that know nothing or next to nothing or simply don't care about the game seems to have occurred with that 1998 jump from what my long-time Cub fan friends tell me (I'm a Sox fan and have little experience with Wrigley until after 2004, by which time the idiot squad was in Wrigley in full bore). They sold well before that but were usually in the low 2 million mark for attendance (definitely not selling out every game) - I'm sure all the Cards games were sold out, and some others (Mets likely being one as it used to be a big rivalry in the 2-division era), but it wasn't that hard to get tickets to a lot of the games. I'm sure there were some party fans there and some Wrigley fans there, but there were still other old stadiums around in the early 90s and the neighborhood wasn't nearly what it is now as far as the volume of bars.
Then after 1998 they were usually at 2.8 million or more, and now over 3 million per year since they've expanded the bleachers (the ones that sell in large part to those who could give a crap about the game and are there for a party) and added some other premium seats.
And no signs of slowing down -- the Cubs are the draw for some, Wrigley the draw for others, and the party the draw for still others. The demand for the latter two is virtually inelastic relative to the Cubs success or failure, and thus the actual Cubs fans know that they have to jump on tickets immediately now to actually get tickets during the season without paying a broker, so the team basically knows they're going to sell a vast majority of the tickets regardless of the team's quality.
Around 30 years ago Wrigleyville was considered a rather rough neighborhood. It only became "Disneyland for Douchebags" (a term coined by a friend of mine who is a long-time Cub fan ) more recently. I'll bet pre-1984 there were mostly knowledgeable fans in the place. They sure pissed Lee Elia off, that's for sure.
i have been in chicago since 1985- the farthest i have lived from wrigley field is 3 miles and have been within 1 mile for the past 20 years and that includes raising 3 kids (2 current teenagers). yes, the park has a party atmosphere, and so what? most places would kill for it. the part of fans not knowing what's going on is way overblown. if other teams could duplicate the things that make wrigley work- like good neighborhood not far from downtown, public transportation at the door, bars and restaurants ringing the park (so when you go to a game,even if it started at noon, you don't go home until the next morning), traditions like the 7th inning stretch, the w sign, singing go cubs go, and on and on- they would.
and the argument that management hasn't tried to win i don't think has been a fair characteristic. they've certainly been upping the budget and making deals -unfortunately, bad ones- but they've been trying.
lastly, part of it is just wrigley- that's why buffet, the police, elton john/bill joel, redwings/blackhawks all sell out as well.
+1 for referencing Lee Elia.
Not sure most people in the bleachers would even know who that is. But wasn't that his point, they're idiots? Classic, classic rant.
I lol at every attempt to paint the Cubs fanbase as ignorant of general baseball knowledge. Because, as we all know, when people drink a lot and attend a sporting event, as well as continuing to drink, they must be ignorant of the sport in general. Never mind the tailgates well associated with college football. Or the fact that many of you have heard things like "Where is Jason Avant?" and "Why don't they put in LaTerryal Savoy at linebacker" last year at Michigan Stadium. The principle that, somehow, having fun equals being stupid about a sport is about as ignorant as thinking that somehow, keys make noise.
It actually surprises me that so many people have a negative outlook on the Cub fanbase. Maybe it's just my personal exposure but Cubs fans have usually displayed a relatively high baseball IQ. When you compound that with the added humility of not having won a championship in 101 years, you get a relatively harmless fanbase.
And I'm doubly surprised that with all the "showing up to drink and have fun" comments about Wrigley, nobody brought up Fenway. The Red Sox fanbase is absolutely dominated by two types of people. The overzealous frat boy and alcohol friendly Irishman. I saw a drunk guy lampoon a five year old kid at a yankees/red sox game for simply wearing a yankees hat. And I've had beer bottles thrown at me just for being in attendance at one of their games.