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?

Comments

ameed

January 19th, 2010 at 5:57 PM ^

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.

SFBlue

January 19th, 2010 at 6:05 PM ^

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.

Yinka Double Dare

January 19th, 2010 at 7:14 PM ^

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.

double blue

January 19th, 2010 at 9:34 PM ^

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.

V-Link

January 19th, 2010 at 10:11 PM ^

+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.

BlueVoix

January 19th, 2010 at 10:14 PM ^

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.

Manoli

January 20th, 2010 at 11:20 AM ^

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.