KenWo's Corner- Where'd Everybody Go?

I attended three games on the most recent homestand; Tuesday vs. Tigers, Sunday vs. Red Sox and Wednesday vs. Yankees.  I was absolutely shocked by the lack of attendance at any of the three games.  

The Sox pulled within 3.5 games going into the Tuesday game against Detroit.  This was a crucial series as they were facing the top team in the division and it wasn't known whether or not the Sox were going to buy, sell or stand pat at the quickly approaching trade deadline.  The night before, which happened to be half price night, saw the attendance rise to 37,110.  I was expecting a large crowd on Tuesday as the pitching matchup was Justin Verlander vs. Jake Peavy.  I was somewhat surprised to see that only 28,093 paid to see that game.  

Then I went to the Sunday game vs. Boston, which also happened to be Frank Thomas day.  The weather was a little on the warm side, but it was a beautiful day with no clouds in the sky.  The paid attendance?  28,278.  Keep in mind they were handing out nifty miniature statues of the Big Hurt.  I was saddened by this.  In my opinion, Frank Thomas Day needed to be a sell out (even if they had a Frank Thomas Day last year too).  

Finally, with my parents on vacation I had 2 seats from my dad's 27 game plan on Wednesday.  They were facing the Yankees, so obviously you would think there would be a big crowd.  But as Jim pointed out, if you thought that you were wrong.  Only 23,873 were on hand to see the Sox get humiliated 18-7 and that was with attendance up 2,000 from the night before.  Granted, by this game the Sox had lost 4 in a row so maybe the walk up was effected by that.  But it was still the Yankees on a pleasant summer night.

I didn't have to look hard for reasons why there might be a drop off.  I brought my son to the Tigers game, thinking I could carry him into the park.  He is only 3 years old, I figured it shouldn't be a problem as it never was before.  When I got up to the gate though, I was told he needed a ticket.  So I went to the window and asked the guy for the cheapest seat.  It was $22.  I have 2 kids, and unless it is a special event (like Frank Thomas Day) or I have an extra ticket on hand, there is no way in hell I am bringing them to another game.  How do they expect to grow the fan base when they make it hard on the parents to bring the young ones?

For Frank Thomas Day, they so nicely put it on a day that the club is facing the Red Sox so they can charge you "premier" price.  On a day when a statue is being unveiled or there is a special ceremony of some kind, I like to sit in the lower deck area to get a nice view, take pictures etc.  On this day, the lower deck seats cost me 53 dollars a ticket for outfield seats!  I had purchased these tickets the day seats went on sale to the public, so I had to buy another seat for my kid, which ran another $32 for upper deck.  Of course, you can't show that ticket to the ushers because the White Sox have that silly rule where if you have a 500 level ticket that isn't of the season ticket variety, you aren't allowed access into the lower deck area (even though the damn thing is $32, which is more than enough to keep the undesirable Ligue types out).  

Since there were 5 of us going to that game, including a kid in a car seat, we took 2 cars.  Normally I don't pay for parking due to the neighborhood pass that I get every year from a family friend in the area.  However, on this day I had to shell out the $23 for parking.  I have been to a lot of different parks, and there is always "tiers" for parking.  The nice lots right next to the stadium are more money than the ones 2 blocks away.  Not at the Cell.  I feel lucky I don't have to dish that out every time I attend.

Finally, with the Sox playing the Yankees on a Monday you would think its a great night to go see the Bombers for a discounted rate.  However, the Sox who are never ones to be outsmarted (at least they think so), did away with half price night.  The result?  24,142 to see CC Sabathia.  

The organization has not been able to maintain the momentum from the World Championship in 2005 on the field or at the box office.  

 

  • 2006- 2,957,414/  36,511
  • 2007- 2,684,395/  33,140
  • 2008- 2,500,648/  30,495*
  • 2009- 2,284,163/  28,199
  • 2010- 2,194,378/  27,091
  • 2011- 2,026,413/  25,017**
As you can see, the drop off has been steady each and every year.  Granted, the poor team of 2007 has a bit to do with it, but they made the playoffs in 2008 and have been in contention (for whatever reasons) the last three seasons.  They were 2.5 games back on August 23rd in 2009, they were tied for 1st on August 11 last season and were 3 games back a week ago.  Yet the attendance continues to fall.  The economy is a problem and the White Sox have not adjusted with it.  The Sox have the 4th highest average ticket price in all of baseball, and had a raise of nearly 2 dollars a ticket this year.  

What are some things they could do?

1.  They could knock it off with the crap/prime/premier ridiculousness.  They couldn't even sell out the Sox vs. Cubs series this year.  Granted the teams weren't playing well and it was on the weeknights but come on.  

2.  They could do away with the insane 500 level banning.  The issues they had with fans running on the field were a long time ago.  Its time to quit punishing people, who are paying between $17-32 depending on the night, for something some toothless goof did nearly a decade ago.

3.  If they are going to continue with the silly 500 level banning, then they need to chop the prices down up there.  I am sure they could get a lot more people in the house if they decided to charge $10 or so for the seats.

4. Tier the parking. Have 10 dollar lot for goodness sake.   Lot G should not be the same price as Lot B.

5. Offer discounts for children every game, not just the once a month kids day. There is no way a 3 year old should be paying the same as a 33 year old does.  

Lets get one thing straight, I am a fan of low attended games. If I have to take a leak, I can do so quickly.  If I want a pop or a beer, it can be done without missing a pitch.  I remember the days of 4 digit attendance at Old Comiskey Park, and quite frankly those are some of my favorite baseball memories.  However, this organization has a history of publicly blaming the fans for putting an inferior product on the field.  Next year, they need to look at themselves and adjust their pricing methods.

When people talk about Ozzie Guillen, they say that a main reason he should stay is because "he makes the White Sox relevant".  To be honest, if the attendance keeps on this downward trend they are going to be at pre-Ozzie levels in a year or two anyway. 



* The season had 82 home dates.

** That is going by the current average of home attendance.  Unless the Sox make some kind of a run, it will end up being less than those numbers due to school resuming, meaningless games and no more attendance boosting match-ups.  





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