SBD/February 21, 2013/Franchises

White Sox Project Attendance Increase, But Still Short Of 2 Million Fans Mark

The White Sox are "projecting 1,946,000 in paid attendance" for the '13 season, an increase of "more than 100,000 from last year's paid attendance of 1,836,916," according to Jared Hopkins of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. That figure is less than the '12 total attendance of 1,965,866, "the first time since 2004 that the total dipped below 2 million." The projections were released Tuesday morning during a meeting of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, which "owns U.S. Cellular Field and manages its daily operations." The White Sox were not required to pay the ISFA "additional ticket fees beyond a base rent" of $1,537,000 because paid attendance last season was less than 1,925,000. Despite "extended success in the regular season before coming up short of a playoff berth" last season, the White Sox "had difficulty drawing fans." That is in "stark contrast" of the crosstown rival Cubs. The White Sox already have announced plans to increase attendance, including "reducing prices on 87 percent of their full-season tickets and reducing parking" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 2/19).

PROVE IT ALL NIGHT: White Sox Exec VP Ken Williams yesterday appeared on CNBC and said the team does not draw fans "as much as I'd like us to draw," but he said the White Sox' fanbase is one to which the team needs "to prove that you're going to be an exciting team, you’re going to be in contention and you have a World Series chance." Williams: "Otherwise, they're not going to spend their discretionary dollar." He noted the Cubs are "a little bit different," but the White Sox have a fanbase in which the team has "got to earn it." Williams: "We are aggressively trying to do much for the fan experience. I think that's the key in sports these days. In any kind of entertainment these days it's how are you going (to) enhance the fan experience, and once you start to do that, then people will take notice and hopefully attend more games.” Williams also was asked about the state of the economy through baseball metrics. He said, “In different markets, you’re going to get a different answer depending where you are. It's hard for me to cry. We have a little bit over $100 million payroll and of course, you have to have the revenues to support that. In Oakland and San Diego and Kansas City, you're looking at revenues half as much. ... I'm not going to complain too much" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 2/20).
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