OT - Chicago Cubs

Submitted by jb5O4 on January 19th, 2010 at 3:42 PM

I did a quick run through some stats on ESPN. Since 2002 (as far back as they have these stats) the Chicago Cubs have averaged a 15th place record in the majors at the end of each season. In the same span they have averaged the 2nd highest attendance record by percentage of sell-out, behind the Boston Red Sox.

I find it interesting that a team which has not won a World Series Championship since 1908 and has had some rough years still consistently sells out. In this 8 year span the Cubs sold out 95.7% of the 648 regular season games, behind the Red Sox staggering 99.8% sell out rate. What is most surprising...

In the 2004 and 2005 seasons the Cubs finished 3rd and 4th place in the division respectively. Despite these seasons which ended in September they had the highest attendance by percentage in baseball both years.

I was able to live in Wrigleyville for a month in the summer of 2008 and fell in love with the Cubs. I was a baseball fan but never really had a team. I think the Cubs may very well have the best fanbase in professional sports. Anyone care to argue a better fanbase out there in pro sports?



January 19th, 2010 at 3:53 PM ^

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.


January 19th, 2010 at 3:50 PM ^

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.


January 19th, 2010 at 3:51 PM ^

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.


January 19th, 2010 at 4:04 PM ^

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.


January 19th, 2010 at 4:48 PM ^

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.

End rant.


January 19th, 2010 at 5:42 PM ^

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.


January 19th, 2010 at 5:22 PM ^

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.


January 19th, 2010 at 3:52 PM ^

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.


January 19th, 2010 at 4:12 PM ^

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.

Yinka Double Dare

January 19th, 2010 at 5:59 PM ^

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.


January 19th, 2010 at 6:52 PM ^

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.


January 19th, 2010 at 3:54 PM ^

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.


January 19th, 2010 at 3:57 PM ^

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.


January 19th, 2010 at 3:58 PM ^

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.


January 19th, 2010 at 4:00 PM ^

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.


January 19th, 2010 at 4:00 PM ^

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.


January 19th, 2010 at 4:33 PM ^

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".

03 Blue 07

January 19th, 2010 at 4:46 PM ^

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.

Yinka Double Dare

January 19th, 2010 at 5:55 PM ^

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.


January 19th, 2010 at 6:24 PM ^

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.


January 19th, 2010 at 7:17 PM ^

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.


January 19th, 2010 at 4:21 PM ^

Let me preface this by saying I grew up in Missouri and am a diehard Cardinals fan.

Cubs can continue to sell seats for the following reasons:

1) The most important reason - It's the Addison Beer Garden. 90% of the people go to the game because it's a social thing to do - drink, converse, and drink some more. You've never heard a louder ball park with just people talking to each other.

2) Northside Chicago has a lot of money. They aren't going to be stressing over season tickets for a while.

3) Chicago corporations love to throw events at Cubs games. There are a lot of Chicago-based corporations.


January 19th, 2010 at 5:08 PM ^

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).


January 19th, 2010 at 5:28 PM ^

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


January 19th, 2010 at 9:54 PM ^

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.


January 19th, 2010 at 5:40 PM ^

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).