By Bruce Levine–
(CBS) — Here we go with the same old attendance issue at U.S Cellular Field, the one we broach every April and May.READ MORE: COVID-19 Update: Indiana Reports 336 New Cases, 30 Additional Deaths
Like many teams, the White Sox have trouble putting fannies in seats in the early part of the season.
On Thursday morning, pitching coach Don Cooper fired out at White Sox fans, asking for better support from them. His comments were made on the Mully and Hanley show on 670 The Score.
“We will see who our really, really good fans are,” Cooper said. “They say if you win, the fans will come out. Well, we won a lot a few years ago (in 2012, Chicago spent 117 days in first place), and they didn’t come out. We really need their support. It is disappointing to think that the opposition sometimes has more fans in the stands than we do. Sometimes I am not sure where are fans are.”
The consensus among White Sox bosses has been not to talk – or complain – about low attendance. This approach to an ongoing problem has best suited the officials, who don’t want to incite the good people who do come out and buy tickets.
The season ticket base had dropped to a low of around 10,000 in 2013-’14. With the all-out spending and aggressive trading the front office laid out this past offseason, season tickets have climbed back to around 13,000.READ MORE: Coronavirus In Illinois: 268 New COVID-19 Cases, 15 Additional Deaths; 52% Of Adults Fully Vaccinated
Cooper should be applauded for standing up and having the stones to admonish fans for taking away what he considers a huge home-field advantage when the ballpark is full of White Sox fans. The people he’s appealing to are the staunch fan base areas of the Northwest and Southwest suburbs.
Attendance has dropped steadily from a peak of close to 3 million tickets sold in 2006. Since 2009, there has been a yearly slide, to less than 1.7 million last season (the lowest since 1998). The White Sox averaged the third-lowest daily attendance in the American League in 2014.
The White Sox marking and ticket sales department are among the hardest-working and smartest groups in sports. They’re trying to promote and sell the White Sox fan experience based on a sensational offseason of trades and free-agent signings. Executives Rick Hahn and Ken Williams and chairman Jerry Reinsdorf have spent $120 million in payroll this season — one of the highest ever — to try and win for the city and the fan base.
Despite the Cooper dialog, the weather is a factor every April, as is a slow start by the team on the field. The three-game series that was just completed with Cleveland drew only 43,000 fans. With 14 new players on the White Sox roster, Cooper’s only saying what the players are thinking.
Where is the fan support?
“We really appreciate the people who are coming out,” manager Robin Ventura said. “Especially in the cold weather. We do want to play good enough baseball for them to want to come out, even if it’s cold.”MORE NEWS: Chicago Police Sergeant Struck By Hit-And-Run Driver
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.