Originally Posted by A. Cavatica
This should be split off into its own thread.
I know it's the conventional wisdom, but do the Sox and Cubs really compete for attendance?
I wouldn't take free tickets to Wrigley, and the Cub fans I know wouldn't take free tickets to the Cell. I don't believe there are a lot of casual baseball fans in Chicago who will go to the games of whichever team is playing well.
The Sox attendance depends on how well the Sox do, and even if they're contending the Cub fans won't come to the park.
The Cubs attendance depends on how well the Cubs do. And tourism -- people come to see their ballpark, and pity them.
I think they do. But it's not as simple as Sox fans going to Cubs games or vice versa. There are a few reasons for this:
1) For the true die-hards, what you describe above is correct. But, as hard as it is for us die-hards on this site to believe, not every potential customer in Chicagoland is a staunch die-hard Sox or Cubs fan. There are plenty of people who are casual fans who would go to both games and it really depends on which team is more exciting to watch.
2) I think a lot of fans' level of disgust really does depend on how the team across town is doing. If the Sox are winning 83 games and the Cubs are losing 100, then I think there is much less anger/apathy toward the team than if the Sox were winning 83 games and the Cubs were racking up multiple pennants. Likewise, Cubs fans are not exactly unfamiliar with losing, but in 2006, after the Sox championship, the Cubs suddenly started seeing empty seats at Wrigley. I think this prompted TribCo to go on a spending spree to put the Cubs back in the playoffs for 2007 and 08.
3) This is ultimately the most important one IMO: Sox success on the field has a long term
affect on their market share in Chicago. Not every child is born into a die-hard family. Their loyalty is up for grabs. Chicago used to be more evenly split between Sox and Cubs. But the Sox moving to pay TV and the Cubs on WGN becoming a national darling beginning in 1984 totally tipped the Chicago market in the Cubs favor. We pretty much lost an entire generation to the Cubs. I think the Sox gained a lot more new fans in 2005, but they didn't keep up that success and they have let the wind out of the sails over the last 4 disappointing seasons and we've seen attendance decline as a result. At this point, the Sox market share is still pretty thin. Not as thin as it was in 1997, but not strong enough to withstand a long rebuilding process. Because of this, if the Sox started from scratch and went the route of fielding last place teams for a few years while the Cubs suddenly became a pennant contender, our fan base would take a huge hit.