The Cubs attendance is down, but let's not blow this out of proportion

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One thing you hear a lot from frustrated Cubs fans is that management often refuses to do the smart thing because “hey, they know Wrigley will sell out no matter what happens, man.”  I’m not sure that was ever really true, but it’s certainly not true now:

Does it seem like the Cubs are promoting “good tickets still available” this season more than in recent memory? There would be good reason. Attendance is down sharply at Wrigley Field.

After 36 home dates last season, the Cubs had drawn 21 crowds over 40,000. This year they have 11. Last year they had one crowd under 38,000 compared to 11 this season.

I don’t know if “sharply” is the right word to use, nor do I know if “crowds under 38,000” is the best way to measure such a thing.  Yes, attendance is down somewhat: the Cubs are drawing 38,475 a game this year compared to 39,611 last season.  While you have to note that we still have the summer months to get through which should up the averages a bit, attendance will likely be down a bit this year, though not dramatically lower.

But let’s not freak out about it either. Here’s some greater context: attendance last year was down from the 40,000+ a game the team drew in 2007 and 2008.  In the several years before that, however, the team had only a couple of years in their history in which they drew as well as they’re drawing right now. Indeed, if the season ended today, 2010 would be the seventh best year attendance-wise (per game) in the 95 years or so they’ve been in Wrigley Field.

So yeah, they’re down. But that’s from historic peaks, so let’s not get carried away, OK?

Each owner will get at least $50 million in early 2018 from the sale of BAMTech

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Earlier this year Disney agreed to purchase the majority stake in BAMTech, the digital media company spun off from MLB Advanced Media. We know it as the source of the technology for MLB.tv and MLB.com, but it’s far more wide-ranging than that now. At present it powers streaming for MLB, HBO, NHL, WWE, and, eventually, will power Disney’s and ESPN’s upcoming streaming services.

The company was started by an investment from baseball’s 30 owners, so they’re getting a big payout as a result of the acquisition. Earlier this morning Jim Bowden dropped this regarding how much of that payout is in the offing in the short term:

That’s probably on the low end, actually. Some people I’ve spoken to who are familiar with the acquisition say the figure is more like $68 million in Q1 of 2018.

Good for the owners! It was a savvy, forward-thinking investment that, in the past, baseball owners might not have made. Bud Selig, Bob Bowman and others deserve credit for convincing the Jeff Lorias and Jerry Reinsdorfs of the world to think big and long term. It’s money out of the sky, raining down upon the owner of your baseball team for, basically, doing nothing.

Money which should be remembered when your buddy complains about a relief pitcher getting $6 million for only pitching 65 innings. Money which should be remembered when your team’s GM says that he has to cut back on payroll in the coming year.