Originally Posted by Lip Man 1
Sox author / historian Rich Lindberg weighs in on the issue:
"The fact that they cannot shade two million raises serious concerns about the long term future of this franchise in Chicago. 26,000 is not an acceptable crowd for a Friday night with so much on the line.
On average they have dropped 100,000 to 200,000 a year since 2006.
Next year with the loss of free agents, I expect another precipitous drop.
I believe the Sox fan base has shrunk. The location of the park and the failure to create a "Comiskeyville" bar scene due to the intransigence of the Bridgeport people has deeply impacted the team.
My personal opinion is that the Sox are safe in Chicago as long as Jerry Reinsdorf is around, but after that, we could see a replay of 1969, 1975, 1980 and 1988, years when they threatened and nearly to left town because of poor attendance and other issues.
In this Cub crazy town it is just becoming harder and harder for them to compete. Also I seriously question the contention that Sox fans are such great fans. They have their core group of course, but cannot win over the peripheral baseball fans who almost inevitably choose the Cubs.
I remember 1970 when we drew 495,000 fans for the whole year and other seasons like that, I am not optimistic about the future of this team in Chicago.
Author of Total White Sox and other books
Originally Posted by JB98
My question for Rich would be this: If he thinks the Sox are gonna leave Chicago, where are they gonna go? What market that doesn't have a team right now is gonna be better?
I just don't buy that argument. This stuff goes in cycles. The Sox drew over 33,000 per game with an awful team in 2007. They still had a good season-ticket base just a couple years removed from the World Series. That season-ticket base has eroded significantly, I would say, over the last three years. The Sox have fielded mediocre, uninspiring teams.
In fact, I would go so far as to say the 2011 club was flat out boring. The atmosphere in the ballpark last year was ABYSMAL, from my perspective. Dead team, idiot manager, no life on the field or in the stands.
It will take more than one surprising season to bring people back. A postseason bid this year sure would help, which has made this September slide all the more frustrating. In the grander scheme of things, the Sox are in danger of squandering a chance to gain more attention in the city. The Cubs absolutely ****ing suck right now. Look at the Double-A **** they are putting on the field. Historically bad, even for that horse**** excuse for a franchise.
The door is open for the Sox. Unfortunately, this franchise has a history of not kicking the door down when the opportunity exists. Much of Sox history is about finishing in second place, both in the standings and in the minds of Chicago fans.
I agree with JB. In fact, I highlighted some of the points he made that I especially agree with. The main culprit is the ****ty play by this team since its 2008 playoff appearance that has driven fans away. 3 of 4 of those years saw the same old story: the Sox in first place in the 2nd half only to see them totally lay an egg against the team they need to beat and free-fall from contention. The one year in the last 4 that this didn't happen was last year - and that was a total train wreck of a team that was very unwatchable.
In response to Rich's comment, I don't think the Sox are in danger of moving. Where would they go? Unless MLB starts contracting teams, there are much worse places to be than the 2nd team in Chicago. Just ask the A's (who are in much worse shape as far as fan support and revenues go) how easy it is to find a new city to move to.
I don't necessarily agree that the Sox fanbase has shrunk. I guess it depends on what time frame he is talking about. Since 1967? Since 1983? Yeah, I could see that. I think the Sox's moves to UHF in the late 60s and, more catastrophically, the move to pay TV SportsVision in 1982 is what really decimated this fan base in a way that this team has yet to recover. But, in the last 10 years? I'd say Sox support in the Chicago market is much better now than it was before 2005. I think the 2005 team won over a bunch of youngsters to the Sox and that we'll see this translate to more paying customers once these kids grow up and enter the work force in another 10 years or so
Originally Posted by Lip Man 1
Am at the station we're in the pregame show for ISU football. I agree with your comments. I can't see the Sox moving because from a practical sense, you are right, where are they going to go?
Like I tried to stress to Michael and unfortunately it didn't make the final cut, it's about winning.
The Sox are the only original franchise to have NEVER made the post season in consecutive years. NEVER, even with expanded playoffs since 1969.
If the Sox could somehow figure out how to dominate the weakest division in the league, a la Cleveland in the 90's and Minnesota in the 00's...go to the playoffs say four times in five years, they wouldn't have attendance issues...I'm convinced of that.
Ultimately it's all about winning.
And yes absolutely, historically the Sox have squandered chance after chance to take control of the city. Sometimes it has been forces out of their control (social unrest in the 1960's) but more often it's because they shot themselves (leaving WGN after 1967, SportsVision, not even making the playoffs the year after the World Series because they fell apart in the second half...blowing playoff chances the final two weeks in 2003, falling apart after Buehrle's perfect game in 2009, falling apart the final month and a half in 2010 and potentially throwing away a three game lead with 15 to go in 2012.)
That's NOT the way to excite the fan base, garner more media coverage or make sponsors more willing in this economy to invest and advertise.
You are absolutely right. Failing to make the post season in consecutive years EVER is a pretty damning stat for the White Sox. If you are already the "underdog" team in a 2-team market, you're not going to build up a huge following when you make the playoffs typically once every 5 years or so. It's pathetic that we're in the 18th season of the 3-division, 1 wild card arrangement and the Sox have only been able to scatter a few playoff appearances.
The Tigers are on the verge of making the playoffs for a 2nd consecutive year. Say what you will about their lousy defense, but their ownership is willing to put up the big bucks to build a contender. They brought in Prince Fielder. They were willing to essentially eat Dontrelle Willis's contract to get Miguel Cabrera. These are things that Sox ownership won't commit to doing unless their bottom line supports it.
Don't forget that part of the problem is the continual lack of much talent in our minor league system. I'm glad to see Sale and Reed look like home-grown successes. But the depth in this organization is just too thin. We can't continue to rely solely on expensive signing like Dunn or scrap-heap success stories to become a consistent winner. What the Sox have been able to do well in the last 10 years or so is be a consistent "average or better" team. Just being around .500 most years with a smattering of post season appearances every 5 years isn't going to cut it.
What really pisses me off is that this is always turned around to be an indictment against Sox fans. "Oh, where are the fans!!!! They should be packing that place every night! even though they're coming off 3 disappointing seasons and an offseason where Sox management seemed to emphasize budget austerity."