Cubs Losing Fans, Games

The New York Yankees take on the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field this weekend, and, believe it or not, you can still get a seat.

Same goes for the usually coveted Crosstown Classic Series against the White Sox that starts Monday. Tickets are still available for that, too.

In fact, it's a pretty safe bet that tickets are available to just about any Cubs home game this year, say ticket sellers.

Has the Cubs brass killed its Golden Goose?

Recent news would suggest the days of record, 3.3 million-person-a-year attendance is over:

Ticket resellers told the Daily Herald that the Cubs' pricing policies have driven fans past the breaking point:

"Local ticket resale companies are reporting a historic decline in demand that not even the weekend series against the New York Yankees or next week's crosstown games with the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field are helping to rebuild.

'People are just not interested like they were,' said Max Waisvisz, owner of Chicago-based Gold Coast Tickets. 'It's too-high ticket pricing and fans not getting value for their money. We thought it was invincible. We were wrong.' "

ESPN's Peter Gammons says one of the problems is that Wrigley Field is a "dump."

“ 'The problem that (Ricketts) has, and the Ricketts family has a serious issue, is they’re going to have to understand it’s not only rebuilding personnel,'  Gammons said Friday on 'The Mully and Hanley Show' on WSCR-AM 670.  'They got to make that ballpark livable, it’s a dump, Wrigley Field. They’re going to have to spent $200-and-something million on re-renovating Wrigley Field, do what the Boston owners did with Fenway Park. And the investment is far greater than, I think, maybe they realize. That the amount of work that Wrigley Field needs is, there’s a ton of money that has to go into rebuilding that place.' ”  

Others say fans are finally tired of watching a loser.

"Cubs fans always wanted to win, first and foremost. If they thronged to Wrigley Field to the tune of 3.3 million each year after three post-season appearances from 2003-08, well, what else did you want them to do when a home game was scheduled? Go to the mountains? Surf on Lake Michigan?

But the fans had their limits after 1 1/2 seasons of spectacular losing. The bleachers were not jammed to the gills for Thursday's game against the Brewers in beautiful weather. And tickets were still available this week for the ballyhooed inter-league series against the Yankees starting today.

The typical method of Cubs roster construction -- a hodgepodge -- is not selling anymore to the paying customers. So why not try something radically different that's worked elsewhere with the Twins, the Braves, the Rays and others. The fans are eager to see something that has a discernible future.

Tear it all down. Build around a talented core of kids. A youth movement."

The problem of declining interest has been evident since the beginning of the year. But many thought what appeared to be early season doldrums would correct once high-profile series came to town.

"Two strange sights were spotted at Wrigley Field on Monday as the Cubs beat the Diamondbacks: a flock of birds and a dearth of fans.

A flock of seagulls descended upon centerfield on April 5 around the third inning, and didn't leave.

The birds aren't going anywhere. With Wrigley's close proximity to Lake Michigan, endless supply of dropped peanuts and cracker jacks, and large, grassy area, the Cubs will likely just have to learn to deal with their feathered friends.

However, the lack of fans is a problem that will need to be dealt with.

Monday's attendance -- 26,296 tickets sold -- was the lowest since 2002. The weather was cold and cloudy, but it's April in Chicago. That sort of weather is the norm, and the Cubs haven't had a hard time drawing in fans in previous Aprils.

Kerry Wood, in his first season back with the Cubs, was surprised to see the empty seats.

'It's a little strange seeing empty seats,' Wood said. 'It's our job to change that.' " 

It's not. But the Cubs -- who own a 28-40 record going into the Yankees series -- could turn their fortunes around if they start winning. Of course, no one's buying that idea, either.

Contact Us