SBD/June 1, 2012/Franchises

White Sox Fans Still Not Filling Stands Despite Team's Strong On-Field Performance

The White Sox rank 27th in MLB attendance despite leading AL Central
The White Sox currently have the best record in the AL Central, but the team is "selling barely half its 40,615 seats and attendance is running behind last year's pace," when the team had a sub-.500 record, according to David Roeder of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. The club's average attendance ranks 27th among the 30 MLB teams. The Cubs, currently in last place in the NL Central standings, are "running about even with their ticket sales from a year ago and selling 90 percent of their seats." The White Sox "must win to have a chance of drawing a full house, while the Cubs prosper from a quaint landmark in an attractive, thriving neighborhood." The problem is that "fans can have a delayed reaction to a winner." As in years past, the club is "trying to boost patronage with special events and giveaways." White Sox Senior VP/Sales & Marketing Brooks Boyer said that the club is "using 'dynamic pricing' of tickets to spur interest." Roeder notes when it "comes to attendance, winning might not be everything." Surrounding U.S. Cellular Field are "parking lots, railroad tracks, industry, an expressway and minority neighborhoods that some fans equate with high crime." Without a "high concentration of wealth, the neighborhood is thought to be unable to support the year-round operation of bars and stores" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/1).

ACROSS TOWN: Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts and President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein appeared on Bloomberg TV’s “Sportfolio” Wednesday, with host Rick Horrow noting one of the "most fascinating sports business stories of 2012" is the "the front office reboot” of the Cubs. Epstein said he left the Red Sox because “I knew I probably didn’t want to be in one place forever, it's just the way I’m wired.” He noted he is trying to create an "environment where there’s a lot of discourse, a lot of dissent, almost like a law school classroom, to question each other.” Epstein: "We need to have patience and discipline and build something that can last." Epstein said of changing the culture with the Cubs, “Culture change, to me, doesn’t involve a lot of data. It involves values and properly communicating them. I think you have to set out a vision for what you want to stand for” (“Sportfolio,” Bloomberg TV, 5/30).
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