Chicago Cubs attendance: Steady, but fans still want more

With a season that is more than halfway over, we can start to project what the Chicago Cubs attendance numbers can look like by the end.
Boston Red Sox v Chicago Cubs
Boston Red Sox v Chicago Cubs / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages
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The Cubs are more than halfway through their home schedule on the 2023 season as we head towards the trade deadline. It is likely the Cubs are going to sell, at least not be aggressive buyers, and it's been a roller coaster of emotions for fans. Heading into Saturday afternoon game, the Cubs' season attendance at Wrigley Field has totaled 1,710,370 in 51 games, averaging about 33,537 per game. They are 11th in baseball in terms of average per game.

While the current average per game is not quite at the level it was in the 2016 championship season (39,906), it is still top-15 in baseball. Let's be real it's Wrigley Field, and it will always draw at least in the top half in spectators every year. The question was just how much Cubs fans were willing to shell out for a team that is in between right now. Remember the Cubs are coming off a 2022 season in which they drew the fewest fans at Wrigley Field in 25 years (not counting pandemic years).

Mid-summer the attendance has not surprisingly peaked. The team has yet to sell and the summer months always draw the biggest crowds. Saturday-Sunday games against teams like the Orioles, Red Sox, Guardians, Reds, and Cardinals have drawn between 34K - 40K spectators. Meanwhile, season and weekday games have mostly been in the 26K - 33K range.

How could this look by the season's end? They have 30 home games left with a majority of them taking place post-deadline. If they don't make an unreal run to a postseason race, the average per game probably does not dramatically increase. The potential of more young players coming up and performing well will keep a number of fans engaged, but not the boost a postseason race would. Say the Cubs average roughly 33.1K per game the rest of the way, that puts them around the 2.7 million mark by year's end. That would be an increase from the 2.62 million they drew last year, but not by a ton. Even if they drew just 32K a game the rest of the way they would still finish just above last year (roughly 2.67 million).

If the Cubs draw around 2.7 million this year, that will still probably be top-10 in attendance across baseball, but roughly a 477K difference from what they averaged from 2016-2019 (3,176,984). The fans still come out but they are not going to draw 3 million fans in sub-.500 seasons (if that is indeed how they finish) like they did 2005-2006, 2010-2011. Expectations from Cubs fans have changed and the experience is more expensive. Going to Wrigley Field is a joy no matter what but there has to be more justification to pay a lot of money for a certain level of product.

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