As the home portion of the regular season came to a close Sunday afternoon, we got the final attendance numbers at Wrigley Field in 2023. The Cubs drew 2,775,149 fans at the Friendly Confines, 158,369 more than last year's total of 2,616,780. The average per game checked in roughly 2,000 more than last year.
With the team in a postseason race going into the final week of the season, there has been more interest from the fans in the second half. There was an expectation to see a rise in attendance this year, it was just a question as to how much of an increase. The overall numbers compared to other teams are still good, but they still did not reach the levels of mid-2000s and peak contention in 2016-2019 when they were drawing over 3 million fans.
Cubs need to take the next step to draw 3 million again
It was not much of a surprise the Cubs did not reach 3 million fans, as there was still some skepticism about how the team would perform going into the season. The experience at Wrigley is an awesome one, but pricey, so it was natural for some people to not want to jump on paying money for tickets ahead of time not knowing how good the product would be. Especially early in the season when the weather is still cold. There is also the factor of early and late-season 6:40 PM starts for night games, making it a bit harder for people to make it out to the park during the week with work or school.
Over the first few home series, the Cubs saw a number of games draw under 30,000 for weeknight games against the Rangers and Mariners. Even just watching games on TV one could see during a number of weeknights there were noticeable empty seats in the corners of the lower bowl and across the upper deck. They did not draw 40,000+ at a game until May 28. The highest-attended game was the Christopher Morel walk-off against the White Sox on Aug. 16 with 40,869 at the park that night.
As alluded to earlier there is still room to grow heading into next year. A legit World Series contending team with the preseason hype should get them back to or at least near the 3 million mark. Whether that is next year remains to be seen, but another bump in attendance seems likely regardless.