Chicago Cubs: A detailed history of Wrigley Field attendance

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs / Wrigley Field
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Chicago Cubs: The popularity of the 1980s helped shape today’s Wrigley crowds

The 1970s were not known for being great for the Cubs, nor known for drawing massive crowds all the time. However, this is when things began trending back upwards. The late-1960s success under Leo Durocher helped bring the popularity of the Cubs back, and the fans came out to see them.

Since 1968, the Cubs have not drawn under a million fans outside of two seasons. One was the 1981 strike-shortened season, and the other was 2020 when there were no fans in attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 1984 they drew over 2 million fans for the first time ever. This was during their first run at the postseason since 1945. With Harry Caray calling games across the country on WGN, and the team back to relevance, this helped shape the Wrigley Field we know today. It also does help that since 1988 they play night games at Wrigley so more people can come out when games are not always in the middle of a workday.

From 1984 through 2003 the Cubs drew over 2 million fans each year, except for three seasons (1986, 1994, 1995). Important to note the 94′ and 95′ were both shorter seasons because of the strike. When the Cubs were drawing those numbers of fans, it often saw the days of summer feature packed houses, but still with some sparse crowds early in the April/May months. A good example is 1998 when Kerry Wood struck out 20 Astros in front of a smaller crowd of around 18K, but then seeing 38K+ during the summer and playoff stretch months. Over those 20 seasons, the Cubs would average roughly 2.35 million fans.

2004 was the first year in Cubs history they hit the 3 million fan mark, and this immediately became the norm. Even the 96-loss team in 2006 drew over 3.1 million fans at Wrigley Field. From 2004-2019 the Cubs averaged 3,062,545 fans per season. That’s around 38K per game. They drew between 2.4-2.6 million in the rebuild years of 2012 through 2014 and 2.92 million in 2015 when the bleachers were getting rebuilt in the renaissance season. Other than that, they would bring in over 3 million in all other seasons outside those.

In 2021 the Cubs drew under 2 million (1,978,934) for the first time since the 1995 shortened season. We are not counting 2020 because fans were not allowed in. It was the first time the Cubs had drawn under 2 million in a normal season of at least 160 games since 1986. Keep in mind the capacity allowed from April through June was limited due to COVID, and the team selling off the core saw a lot of no-shows in August and September.

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So to sum some numbers up very quickly, here is a way to look at the attendance at Wrigley going back to 1927.

  • Average attendance 1927-1983: 1,002,807
  • Average attendance 1984 – 2003: 2,345,927
  • Average attendance 2004 – Present: 2,998,804