SBD/August 23, 2012/Franchises

White Sox Continue To Struggle At The Gate, Fans Point To Premium Pricing As Main Culprit

White Sox fans said premier pricing effects their decision to attend games
The White Sox' "attendance woes have been well-documented -- they are averaging 24,506 fans, 24th-best figure in baseball -- but even Sox employees have been surprised at the low numbers with the first-place Yankees in town this week," according to Jon Greenberg of ESPN CHICAGO. The White Sox "drew 27,561 for Monday’s game and 24,247 on Tuesday." With a "chance for the first home sweep over the Yankees in 21 years, the Sox drew 26,042 Wednesday for a series average of 26,319." Since '07, during the "previous three weekday series when the Yankees were in town, the series averaged 27,717 fans." White Sox Senior VP/Sales & Marketing Brooks Boyer said, "You have to ask yourself, is price the biggest factor? I don't think price is the biggest factor on a value Monday. ... Maybe we need to do more to get the trust of our fans" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 8/22).

PRICE MATTERS: White Sox P Jake Peavy said, "It's disappointing, I can tell you that. It’s disappointing when you come home in late August, playing another first-place team, a team you could potentially play in the playoffs. If you have 20,000 people here, that’s not something you are excited about." In Chicago, Daryl Van Schouwen notes bleacher seats were "priced at $49, which is $15 more than the regular price." White Sox fans were "quick to react to the attendance reports on Twitter, almost unanimously citing the premier pricing level that applies for the Yankees and eight other dates." When the White Sox hosted the Yankees "in early August last season and premier pricing applied, they drew 24,142 for the first game, a Monday night, and 21,661 on Tuesday." That "points to two facts: Price matters to a working-class fan base, and the 2012 team is a better draw at this time this season, although the Sox are several hundred fans per game behind their 2011 attendance." White Sox Senior VP & GM Ken Williams has said that the team "must sell tickets to back his checkbook for team-improvement purposes." He "steered clear of telling fans how to spend their money this week, however, embracing the company theme of focusing on that day’s game and nothing else." Van Schouwen notes the "last-place Cubs outdrew the first-place Sox 112,954 to 76,833 over three games when both teams were at home last weekend" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 8/23).

FICKLE FANS IN FLORIDA: A TAMPA BAY TIMES' editorial states: "9,913. 10,877. 11,892. The numbers don't lie." Those are the "attendance figures for the Tampa Bay Rays' home games this week, and they are indefensible for a playoff contender." They are the "reason it is imperative that public talks begin on a new stadium that will attract more fans and ensure the long-term future of the franchise in Tampa Bay." It is "not [Rays Principal Owner Stuart] Sternberg whose actions are threatening the future of Major League Baseball here." It is St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster "who refuses to recognize that the Rays will not be playing in the outdated [Tropicana Field] until the lease expires in 2027" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 8/23).
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