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Jerry_Manuel
09-24-2001, 10:21 PM
I can only speak for myself but I'm really getting tired of hearing about this. But read on if you want.


Fans stay away
By Paul Sullivan
Tribune staff reporter
September 24, 2001 9:06 PM CDT
When all is said and done, the White Sox may well finish with the fifth-best record in the American League, an impressive accomplishment after falling 15 games below .500 on May 23.

Despite the recovery on the field, however, the Sox never fully recovered at the box office.

With three home games remaining, beginning Tuesday night against Minnesota, the Sox rank 12th among the 14 American League teams with an average attendance of 22,436. Only Tampa Bay (16,042) and Kansas City (19,843) have had fewer paying customers than the Sox, who had a division title to work with when season tickets went on sale last winter.

Nothing sells tickets like a winner, but the successful 2000 regular season had little or no effect on the team's ability to draw fans this year. An 8-15 April record, culminated by Frank Thomas' season-ending triceps injury, hurt advance sales for the final five months.

After raising attendance by a 45.5 percent in 2000, the Sox will end with about 1.8 million tickets sold this year. That's only a slight drop-off from last year's 1.95 million but significantly below the pre-strike level of 2.6 million in '93, the third season in new Comiskey Park.

The biggest task for the Sox this off-season may not be its personnel decisions but trying to find ways to fill a ballpark that's typically half-empty.

Two years ago White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf told the Tribune, "I talk to fans a lot and they tell me they don't like the ambiance. But what people really want is something better in the uniforms."

The Sox have upgraded the team since Reinsdorf's remark and have several budding stars in Magglio Ordonez, Keith Foulke, Paul Konerko and Mark Buehrle. Yet their presence hasn't affected the gate.

The Sox not only need a winning team to draw, but the organization apparently must find new approaches to reach its fans—the ones they haven't completely lost from the strike, the Terry Bevington era or any other controversies that may have turned them off.

The widespread belief among Sox players is that the organization does a poor job of selling the team.

Two cases in point are David Wells and Jose Canseco.

When Wells was acquired in January, he not only was supposed to lead the staff but also was brought in to provide a boost in attendance and overall buzz.

But the Sox declined to capitalize on Wells' outgoing persona in its early-season ad campaign, even when Wells was healthy and performing relatively well.

Canseco is a larger-than-life character who turned out to be a fan favorite after the Sox signed him in late June. But once again, the Sox decided not to to market their popular DH, who is likely to leave because Thomas is set to return next spring.

In the advertisement that ran during White Sox telecasts over the weekend, there were no players or Sox-related photographs in it.

The ad consisted of a series of written messages, the first of which noted there are 8 million people in Chicago, followed by one that stated there were only 45,000 available seats at Comiskey Park.

It ended with a phone number for tickets and the message, "Better get your tickets. Now."

The humor was unintentional.

The Sox ditched their first ad campaign—"It's Time"—in May because of the team's slow start, stressing the Comiskey Park experience in most of its ads the remainder of the season.

It's no secret many Sox fans don't particularly care for the new Comiskey Park. They'll sit in the lower deck and the bleachers, but have stayed away from the upper deck unless the Cubs or a fireworks display is on the schedule.

The Sox drew crowds in excess of 30,000 only nine times this year: the home opener against Detroit, the three-game series against the Cubs, two fireworks nights against Texas and Baltimore, a fireworks/Elvis Night against Oakland, a half-price Monday night against Minnesota and the final appearance of Cal Ripken Jr. on a Sunday afternoon.

The only crowds better than 40,000 were the opener and the three Cubs games.

The team did average 26,511 on half-price Mondays, an 18 percent increase over their usual attendance. But there were only six half-price Mondays as opposed to nine in 2000.

The Sox knew when the schedule came out last year that there were fewer Monday home games on it. But they stuck with Monday's theme rather than switching to another night, giving their fans fewer opportunities to purchase tickets at a bargain rate.

The first part of rekindling fans' interest might be to admit a problem exists, something Sox management has been loathe to do. Reinsdorf disregards criticism of the upper deck, citing fan surveys the club declines to release.

Still, the upper deck was more than 75 percent empty for the majority of the year, at prices of $18 and $12. Minnesota, which plays in the equally unpopular Metrodome, charges $5 for all of its upper-deck seats.

"We knew that the upper deck would be higher than it is at most stadiums," Reinsdorf said after the '99 season. "But [the architects] told us that was the only way to eliminate all the posts. I still haven't heard anyone say there is anything wrong with the lower deck, and we're not selling that out. No one has to sit in the upper deck until we have 35,000."

The Sox renovated the ballpark last year to "create a greater intimacy," according to a press release. This off-season, the Sox will enter Phase 2 of their renovation plan, which includes plants on the terraced batter's-eye in center field, changes in the looks of the concession stands and air conditioning and heating in the club level concourse.

The park no doubt will look different next year and the team expects to improve with the return of Thomas. But the Sox have a long way to go to make Comiskey Park as alive as it was before the '94 strike and upcoming contract talks with the players' union will not make their task any easier.

cheeses_h_rice
09-24-2001, 10:29 PM
I too am burnt out on this topic.

1.8 million isn't bad, all things considered.

Hopefully when the Sox turn Comiskey into a Wacky Fun-Filled Balloon-a-thon Theme Park, non-baseball fan idiots will flock to the park. Whatever. All I want is for the Sox to win their division.

ihatethecubs
09-25-2001, 01:36 AM
yea who cares. better tickets for me

longshot7
09-25-2001, 01:44 AM
But it's true, isn't it? We only drew better than the D-Rays and Royals? That's awful. Our marketing department blows. If anyone deserves to be fired, it's Rob Gallas.

LongDistanceFan
09-25-2001, 01:45 AM
Originally posted by ihatethecubs
yea who cares. better tickets for me i was a season ticket holder for the sox when i was in town. So this reporter does have a point about attendance. I would too.

but then again what do i know?

Jerry_Manuel
09-25-2001, 06:48 AM
Originally posted by longshot7
But it's true, isn't it? We only drew better than the D-Rays and Royals? That's awful. Our marketing department blows. If anyone deserves to be fired, it's Rob Gallas.

I agree with that and the Sox don't promote the team well at all.

No-Neck
09-25-2001, 11:37 AM
The Score Radio this morning was having a field day with Paul Sullivan's column, insisting that the upper deck be "free", and even then, nobody would show up.

This is the ultimate surrender by the Flub Supporters, they have to return to criticizing the Upper Deck at Comiskey in order to find some solice in their pitiful team's collapse this year. It's September, and the Tribune is reinforcing a state of denial for the pukey lovable losers.

An "Aggravated Sox Fan" called the Score and justed ripped JR and the Park. This guy was a plant/stooge.

That being said, I was at the game last Saturday, and the Sox have a long way to go to become a World Series Class team. I was not impressed with their play on Friday either.


The Sox seem to always play down to their competition, instead of playing crisply.

The Park is okay, I enjoy going there. However, the level of play this year, as well as the second half of last year, is just awful.

idseer
09-25-2001, 12:13 PM
Originally posted by Jerry_Manuel
Still, the upper deck was more than 75 percent empty for the majority of the year, at prices of $18 and $12. Minnesota, which plays in the equally unpopular Metrodome, charges $5 for all of its upper-deck seats.

why would the sox be adverse to bringing this ridiculous price down to at least SEE if more would attend? it's not like it would cost the sox a dime! and wouldn't concessions at least go up?

GASHWOUND
09-25-2001, 12:16 PM
Originally posted by longshot7
But it's true, isn't it? We only drew better than the D-Rays and Royals? That's awful. Our marketing department blows. If anyone deserves to be fired, it's Rob Gallas.

I don't like talking about the attendance but it does piss me off that we are down with the bottom feeders of the pitaful Royals and Devil rays in crowds. We deserve better than that and we are better than that. All national media has lumped us with the botto feeders. If you notice unless we're playing the Marainers or Yanks, highlights for our Sox are put at the end of SportCenter and Baseball Tonight. And I mean at the very end. And I say 50% of the time they don't even show highlights, but score only. Actually, the DevilRays have gotten more air time on SC than us.

We're treated like an expansion team and if we can't average at least 25,000 people than do we deserve to be treated like an expansion team? Look how good we were last year and nobody in the national media cared. I've been to 20 games this year and it very hard for me to go to games, but I go to support the ballclub I love and I think people should and just suck it up and go even if you don't feel like it. I'm getting sick and tired of being lumped in with the Royals and D-rays. I'll say this again, We're better than that.

idseer
09-25-2001, 12:24 PM
Originally posted by GASHWOUND


All national media has lumped us with the botto feeders. If you notice unless we're playing the Marainers or Yanks, highlights for our Sox are put at the end of SportCenter and Baseball Tonight. And I mean at the very end. And I say 50% of the time they don't even show highlights, but score only. Actually, the DevilRays have gotten more air time on SC than us.



no way to prove this of course, but doesn't anyone think a lot of this has to do with JR himself? i think he's disliked by other owners for his role in negotiations just prior to his signing belle, among other things. i think that he's disliked by media as well. i know he's disliked by most sox fans for many reasons. nobody wants to support this jerk!

if you saw new ownership that actually wanted to win, i believe fans would start coming back.

GASHWOUND
09-25-2001, 12:45 PM
Originally posted by idseer


no way to prove this of course, but doesn't anyone think a lot of this has to do with JR himself? i think he's disliked by other owners for his role in negotiations just prior to his signing belle, among other things. i think that he's disliked by media as well. i know he's disliked by most sox fans for many reasons. nobody wants to support this jerk!

if you saw new ownership that actually wanted to win, i believe fans would start coming back.


Why would other owners disike him? Although he was key in the strike happening, he doesn't have the power to shut down baseball all by himself. Other owners had something to do with it. I do agree that at least guys on SC and Baseball tonight don't like the WS ownership or whatever. Peter gammons has some sort of beef wit Kenny Williams. They never give respect to our Sox on those shows.

PaleHoseGeorge
09-25-2001, 01:29 PM
Originally posted by GASHWOUND
Why would other owners disike him? Although he was key in the strike happening, he doesn't have the power to shut down baseball all by himself. Other owners had something to do with it. I do agree that at least guys on SC and Baseball tonight don't like the WS ownership or whatever. Peter gammons has some sort of beef wit Kenny Williams. They never give respect to our Sox on those shows.

Plenty of Reinsdorf's fellow owners hate him for, by all accounts except Jerry's, being the ringleader of the group of hardliners who prosecuted the labor war of 1994-96. He cost them a bundle of money while never delivering the big payback they thought breaking the union would bring. The MLBPA has done a good job vilifying Reinsdorf. They've made him the human face for the greed of ownership. Reinsdorf's numerous malaprops with the media do his public persona a great disservice, too. It's to the point where several players (like Curt Schilling) have publicly stated they would never play for Reinsdorf.

Sure it's not fair, but he has played a major role in his own misfortune.

Dadawg_77
09-25-2001, 03:05 PM
Look, the best way for the Sox to draw is for JR to sell the team. Fan will come back when that happens. Next to that, the Sox should slash upperdeck prices in 1/2. Then start a marketing campaing saying, "You loved half price nights, well now every night is a half price night at the Park." Then make one or a couple major moves this off season that improves the team. Then make "Sox Fest" free, bring the old timers to talk with older fans, bring up some prospects for people to meet, make it manitory (if they can) or make current players an offer they can't refuse to be there. Oh, this would be a perfect place to announce a major move. Just a few ideas I have on how to put more buts in the seats

captain54
09-25-2001, 03:25 PM
The Reinsdorf regime is beyond any credibility with the fans in this town....it is beyond the point of no return, from the building of a stadium that is outdated only 10 years after its construction, to a public relations disaster with the strike, to a consistently mediocre series of teams in the twenty years of his Sox ownership, extending to a dismantling of the Bulls.....

Its been over twenty years now, fans are sick of losing.....the Sox dont have the advantage of fan friendly Wrigley field to overcome the losing.....(although they could have had Comiskey been constructed differently)...

Reinsdorf is an egomaniac and a very arrogant man.....the fans are tired of it....the sooner he is run out of town the better.....

Let the flames begin!!!!!!

Procol Harum
09-25-2001, 03:32 PM
Originally posted by Dadawg_77
Look, the best way for the Sox to draw is for JR to sell the team. Next to that, the Sox should slash upperdeck prices in 1/2.

Preach it. Getting rid of JR is the only thing that will be more than a temporary fix to the Sox' attendance and image woes. I think slashing upper deck tickets, restoring the # of half-price nights, and cutting parking costs back to at least 2000 levels (this rapacious move jumped parking from $10 to $13!! Consider, by comparison, that parking in Milwaukee only costs $5!!) would be a step toward mending fences with the public.

LongDistanceFan
09-25-2001, 03:36 PM
Originally posted by Procol Harum


Preach it. Getting rid of JR is the only thing that will be more than a temporary fix to the Sox' attendance and image woes. I think slashing upper deck tickets, restoring the # of half-price nights, and cutting parking costs back to at least 2000 levels (this rapacious move jumped parking from $10 to $13!! Consider, by comparison, that parking in Milwaukee only costs $5!!) would be a step toward mending fences with the public. i am in all agreement here, in todays economy, it is getting more expensive to go to a game. Cut the tickets in upper deck and cut the parking prices........ see what happens then.........

Soxboyrob
09-25-2001, 03:54 PM
Originally posted by No-Neck
The Score Radio this morning was having a field day with Paul Sullivan's column, insisting that the upper deck be "free", and even then, nobody would show up.

An "Aggravated Sox Fan" called the Score and justed ripped JR and the Park. This guy was a plant/stooge.



Actually, he's not a stooge or a plant....he's a huge Sox fan that is fed up w/ the ownership's handling of this team and their insistence that there is nothing wrong w/ the park, even though attendance seems to allude to the fact that something clearly is wrong. "aggravated Sox fan" is a very big pro-Sox advocate that also posts a lot on the AOL Sox message board. He also hates the Cubs something fierce.

Kilroy
09-25-2001, 04:54 PM
Originally posted by Soxboyrob
Actually, he's not a stooge or a plant....he's a huge Sox fan that is fed up w/ the ownership's handling of this team and their insistence that there is nothing wrong w/ the park, even though attendance seems to allude to the fact that something clearly is wrong.

What a crock of *****. Nothing was wrong with the park during the ALDS last year. Or during the Cub series every year. Or most opening days.

This is going to piss people off, but it's pretty much the truth:

There's not a whole lot that can be done about the ball park short of a wrecking ball. That makes the park a nice easy excuse as to why its not full all the time. If Comiskey was placed where Wrigley is, and Wrigley where Comiskey is, the same number of people would be showing to see the Sox play in Wrigley.

If you want a bunch of people all the time, you need 1 of 2 things, a perennial winner, which Sox fans want, or a lot of "attractions" to the park like bars, restraunts, etc, which Sox fans couldn't give a rat's ass about. It doesn't matter how "beautiful" you make the park.

There are reasons why people don't show at Sox games, but the park isn't one of them. If that were true, people wouldn't show for the big games either, and we know that's not the case. It is just a convenient excuse.

Soxboyrob
09-25-2001, 05:47 PM
Originally posted by Kilroy

This is going to piss people off, but it's pretty much the truth:

There's not a whole lot that can be done about the ball park short of a wrecking ball. That makes the park a nice easy excuse as to why its not full all the time. If Comiskey was placed where Wrigley is, and Wrigley where Comiskey is, the same number of people would be showing to see the Sox play in Wrigley.

If you want a bunch of people all the time, you need 1 of 2 things, a perennial winner, which Sox fans want, or a lot of "attractions" to the park like bars, restraunts, etc, which Sox fans couldn't give a rat's ass about. It doesn't matter how "beautiful" you make the park.

There are reasons why people don't show at Sox games, but the park isn't one of them. If that were true, people wouldn't show for the big games either, and we know that's not the case. It is just a convenient excuse.

For the most part, I agree w/ you Kilroy. I'm just relaying the guy's feelings. I love the park and don't really mind the upper deck. The upper deck, IMO, has some obvious design flaws. The entrances should have never been put at the bottom of the 60 some odd stairs that lead to the top of the upper deck. Personally, I won't sit above the 10th row of the upper deck because my perfect eyes can't really see the ball off of the bat at that height(except for behind home plate).

You make the point that "there was nothing wrong w/ the park vs. the Cubs or the Division series last year." Correct, but those are pretty extreme circumstances. The Sox in the playoffs and the Sox playing the Cubs both happen FAR TOO RARELY for the park not to be filled. I can't put a finger on what is precisely the problem, but the Sox didn't use to be in the bottom 15% of attendance in the AL and now they are. How is that explained? We've never been a perennial playoff team so nothing has changed there. An argument can be made that the Sox had as decent a decade in the '90's as in their 100 year history and yet their attendance continues to drop, compared to other teams.

The Sox have never had a perennial winner or a bunch of bars/restaurants around the park, so why is their chunk of the attendance pie shrinking? I say it's Jerry, the park, the quality of the team, the neighborhood and the poor marketing of the club....all in approximately equal parts.

Fisk Fan
09-25-2001, 05:48 PM
Boy, you would think that these "experts" get a portion of the attendance revenue. They can all suck it!!

No-Neck
09-25-2001, 05:56 PM
Thanks Kilroy, unfortunately its more than a convenient excuse, the White Sox, JR and Comiskey have become the whipping boy of the Chicago Sports Scene, and every time JR opens his mouth, the target becomes bigger.

Why else would the Tribune and Score be concerned about the upper deck for 1/2 hour during the AM drive slot when the Bears just beat the Vikes and the Flubs are still mathematically in contention?

This criticism was placed intentionally for the Flubbie Fans to take the sting out of the Flubs pitiful loss at the hands of the Almighty Pirates. I loved every minute of their minor league effort.

We need a winner on the South Side in order to shut these crappy Flub fans up once and for all, and what I saw pretty much all this year, we're going to need a miracle come 2002.