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Cubs’ poor play drives fans away

Baseball fans dressed for rawatch baseball game between Chicago Cubs Texas Rangers during third inning Thursday April 18 2013 Chicago.

Baseball fans dressed for rain watch a baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and the Texas Rangers during the third inning of a Thursday, April 18 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charlie Arbogast)

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FALLING
INTEREST RATES

Two of the Cubs’ lowest home-attendance marks in the last 11 seasons have come in the last three days, including Wednesday, which was the lowest since Sept. 26, 2002 (against the Reds). All 10 have come in the last three seasons:

20,696 – Wednesday (Marlins)

24,645 – Friday, May 31, 2013 (Diamondbacks)

24,749 – Wednesday, June 12, 2013 (Reds)

25,460 – Thursday, April 11, 2013 (Giants)

25,891 – Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012 (Reds)

26,083 – Thursday, April 18, 2013 (Rangers)

26,292 – Monday, April 4, 2011 (Diamondbacks)

26,354 – Wednesday, May 8, 2013 (Cardinals)

26,946 – Friday, Sept. 14, 2012 (Pirates)

26,978 – Monday (Marlins)

Updated: October 7, 2013 1:31PM



Not only was the announced paid attendance Wednesday at Wrigley Field the lowest in 11 years, but two of the lowest-attended home games since September 2002 came in the last three dates.

“That’s what it is,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said after the game Wednesday. “I don’t have any comments on it.”

It could be cause for concern for a rebuilding organization, considering the trend it represents.

Last year’s attendance of 2.88 million ended a streak of eight consecutive seasons drawing more than 3 million and was the lowest figure since 2002.

This year, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts estimates the number to finish around 2.7 million, but if it’s even slightly below that, it could fall to the lowest levels in at least 15 years (2.62 million in 1998).

And then there’s this trend:

From 2004 through 2009, the Cubs had only one official home crowd of fewer than 30,000 fans. Then they had one in 2010, two in 2011 — and 18 since, including 13 this year.

So far.

“In terms of attendance, the way I look at it is we have to win,’’ Ricketts told the Sun-Times this week. ‘‘We have to get a more exciting team. We’re not disappointed with this year’s attendance. . . . But obviously it’s incumbent upon us to make sure we put a more compelling team on the field, and attendance will take care of itself.”

He added that he feels no added urgency to respond to the attendance with a splashy offseason if it means wavering from long-term organization-building.

And when asked if the club might lower what, on average, are the third-highest ticket prices in baseball under the circumstances, he said, “I don’t know where we’re at right now on what we’re going to do with ticket prices. That’ll be [determined] after the season.”

NOTE: Outfielder Dave Sappelt, who was designated for assignment this week to clear 40-man roster space, cleared waivers and has been assigned outright to Class AAA Iowa.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

Twitter: @GDubCub



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