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Cubs notch lowest attendance since 2002

Chicago CubsThe Chicago Cubs have been a box-office machine in recent years, but yesterday Wrigley Field saw its smallest crowd in nine years, with only 26,292 showing up for a matinee against the Arizona Diamondbacks on a chilly, windy Monday. Harbinger or aberration?

Of course, many teams would be happy with announcing 26,292 fans in the stands on a cold Monday with a less-than-scintillating draw in the house. But we’re talking the Cubs here: a team that’s been an automatic sellout for so many years, a team guaranteed to cram the Friendly Confines. True, we are not in the prime of the season when tourists and tour buses flock to Clark and Addision, but we’re still at a time when the Cubs are actually contending.

The last time the Cubs drew so poorly was during the 2002 season, when only 20,032 showed up on Sept. 26 to see the Cubs battle the Cincinnati Reds.

Yesterday’s poor attendance comes at the heels of an offseason that saw team officials talk more about the funding of Wrigley Field improvements than changes on the team. Sure, we had one high-profile trade that heralded the arrival of Matt Garza, but otherwise the Cubs mostly stood pat on a team that underperformed last season. Cubs attendance during spring training was also down some 22 percent over the last two springs, reinforcing the notion that casual fans might be losing interest. At the end of the day, people like to talk players when sitting around the old hot stove: they don’t want to be constantly reminded of an owner working to improve their own financial situation by looking to the public to pony up for improvements on a private facility.

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