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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Sox Tix in '06
by Hal Vickery

Jerry Reinsdorf was right. For years he has been saying that the way to put fans in the stands at The Cell was to have a winning team. I have to admit I was right, too. I’ve been saying the same thing in this column whenever the subject of attendance came up.

As far as I know, right now nobody outside of the Sox organization knows how many season tickets have been sold, but we already know that season ticket sales are way up for the 2006 season.

Part of that was great promotion on the part of the Sox. We can only guess the thousands of fans who participated in the plan to buy 2006 season tickets to purchase 2005 World Series tickets. The plan was successful enough that when tickets went on sale to the general public, only about ten percent of the seats in the ballpark were available.

The other part is due strictly to the performance of the White Sox on the field. People back winners. Anecdotal evidence from the WSI message boards indicates that a number of people who last year settled for 13-game “Ozzie Plan” packages have decided to go at least with 27-game packages for 2006.

Everybody loves a winner, and Sox fans are no exception. For years large numbers of them have been speaking with their wallets—by not opening them up to buy tickets. We’ve detailed in this column the public relations blunders by the Sox that drove so many fans away from the ballpark over the past two decades.

Put a winner on the field, though, and suddenly things don’t seem so bad. We can see that in the increased attendance at the cell in 2005. In 2004 the Sox got off to a great start before they were decimated by injuries, especially to Frank Thomas and Magglio Ordoñez. Still, the Sox managed to draw 1.9 million fans.

The Sox got off to a great start again in 2005, and this time they didn’t look back. Fans started to think that something special was happening, and they began to buy tickets again, and attendance reached 2.3 million, the highest total since 1993.

Last year, the Sox put their 13-game “Ozzie Plan”: packages on sale in November. I ordered mine about three or four days after the Sox started selling them. All of my seats were in the lower bowl in three sections a little beyond the third base line.

This year I ordered in the evening of the first day the plans went on sale. I had a feeling my seats wouldn’t be nearly as good as this year’s. I was more right than I expected.

This may be boring to some readers. After all, who cares about somebody else’s seat locations. However, I think it makes a point, so please bear with me and I’ll try to make this litany as painless as possible.

When selecting my seats, I chose the “best available” option. It was no surprise to me that my tickets for opening night and the Sunday game of the Cubs series were upper deck reserved.

It was only a mild surprise, since I ordered my tickets rather late in the day, that the tickets for both dates were in the farthest section of the upper deck down the right field line. By that point, though I was kind of surprised that the seats were as low as the eighth and tenth row.

The majority of seats for the rest of the games I selected were just past first base in the upper deck boxes. A Sunday afternoon game in April against the Twins put me as high as Row 16, no surprise. However, it was a big surprise that a Sunday afternoon game in early May against the Royals put me in the fourteenth row.

It was less of a surprise to be that high up in the upper deck against teams like the Yankees, but against the Tigers and Mariners? Well, the Tigers are a half-price Monday game and the Mariners are a fireworks night, so I guess it’s not that surprising. But then there is that Wednesday night game in August against the Royals. Row 13?

Of the thirteen games in my package, I was only able to obtain three seats in the lower deck, all of them about halfway down the right field line. The July 3 game against the Orioles didn’t surprise me, even though it is a Monday night. Neither did a Tuesday game against the Devil Rays in late August.

The one game I don’t understand how I got a seat in the lower deck, and not all that far from the field, was a Monday night game in July against the Twins. Just lucky, I guess!

I think the point of this exercise has been made. Last year, although I did not choose either opening day or a Cubs game, I was able to obtain 13 lower box seats. This year, I only managed three.

That tells you something about what attendance will be in 2006, I think. If the tickets I was able to purchase are typical, then attendance could come close to surpassing the club record of 2.9 million, set in 1991.

Now all the Sox have to do is make the playoffs again this year, and maybe the attendance-minded media will shut up for good.


Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at hvickery@svs.com.

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