- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago White Sox’s problems at the ticket booth are not being helped by a lack of winning baseball at U.S. Cellular Field this season. Caught in a cause-and-effect dilemma, the team’s home record of 7-13 has most certainly impacted Sox’s fans lack of commitment to buying tickets this season.
After 25 percent of the season, the White Sox are on pace to draw 1.62 million fans, which would be the fewest since 1999 when they drew 1.349 million.
With a payroll of $106 million, the Sox won’t lose money this year. But don’t expect them to spend cash on any highly-paid additions if they stay in contention for a division title.
The team’s marketing slogan was “All In” during the 2011 season. However, due to poor performance, the Sox barely surpassed 2-million mark in attendance. It was the third straight year that figure dropped.
The major problem for the marketing department, a source familiar with the situation said, is the lack of interest shown by the southwest and northwest suburban fan base. The central city fan typically shows up at the ballpark, but the suburban Sox fan will not support the team when the ball club is not winning. This is especially true when the Sox are below .500 at home. (Sox officials refuse to talk about the lack of support, not wanting to offend the fans that do come out on a regular basis.)
The Sox’s problem isn’t particularly unique; the entire AL Central has played poorly at home this season; only Cleveland has a .500 record at home.
“Everyone wants more people to come out,” said manager Robin Ventura. “It’s our job to play (well). Hopefully we will start winning some games here and they will start coming out . Even when I was on good teams if the weather was bad, you are not going to get as many people
The White Sox have drawn more than 2 million fans every season since 2005. As part of the organization’s agreement with the Illinois Sports Authority, which operates the ballpark, the Sox do not start paying any rent until they draw 1.6 million in attendance. After they reach that number, the rent goes up incrementally for every 100 ,000 that show up.
The White Sox are struggling to win at home -- and it's hurting attendance.