The 2012 Chicago White Sox, who were in first place in the American League Central Division for 117 straight days this season, had 1,965,955 fans come out to U.S. Cellular Field throughout the summer to see the team play. According to www.MLB.com the White Sox attendance has declined for six consecutive years since setting the franchise record of 2,957,414 in 2006, the year after the Sox won the World Series. This season is the first time the South Side attendance has been under 2 million since 2004.
Rich Luker, who created the ESPN Sports Poll, helped examine White Sox fans’ reasoning as to why ticket sales were down this year despite a competitive team. Luker’s research showed that personal economics, fans’ belief that games were too expensive and the price of parking were the biggest factors in fans buying fewer tickets in 2012, not the team’s performance.
Brooks Boyer, the Sox senior vice president of sales and marketing is trying to revive home attendance for the 2013 season. The White Sox announced on www.MLB.com that more than 87 percent of all full-season tickets for the 2013 season are either dropping in price or staying the same. More than 54 percent of the full-season tickets are dropping an average of 26 percent. The most dramatic lowering of ticket prices is on bleacher and outfield seating. Four full-season 2013 bleacher tickets will cost $2,800 less than in 2012.
The Sox were beat in more ways than one by the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers drew in more than 3 million people this season in a city with greater financial problems than Chicago. “I could tell you that we didn’t draw because of the economy,” Boyer said. “But that didn’t hurt Detroit. They drew 3 million fans and they’re in a lot worse shape than Chicago.”
One of the biggest changes at the Cell next year is that corner seats in the lower deck will be available for $20 per game and upper-deck corner seats will be on sale for $7 per game all season long (excluding opening day and the two Cubs games in May). The cost of parking is also going to be dropped down to $20 from $25. “In my nine years with the Sox, I never saw as many complaints about the parking prices (like these),” Boyer said. “It reached a tipping point.”
The poor attendance was disappointing during a season in which the Sox were doing surprisingly good, despite the preseason predictions that the team would be below .500 all year. The Sox swept the New York Yankees at home in August and the stadium was only half full for all three games. Expect a lot of change coming to South Side next season, and hopefully the slash in ticket prices will attract more fans to come out to the games next season and support the Sox.
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