White Sox attendance already off pace

CHICAGO – Just two games into the season and the White Sox have fallen behind their desired attendance goals.

After adding Adam Dunn and re-signing Paul Konerko, among other moves, chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said this spring that the team would need to draw between 2.6 million and 2.8 million fans to pay for the club’s souped-up $125 million-plus payroll.

“We put the risk out ourselves,” Reinsdorf said midway through spring training. “We put the monkey on ourselves. We spent the money. We never expected people to go wild and start buying tickets like mad.

“We know we have to prove that we have a team worth of winning the division. If we do, I think we’ll draw better. Last year’s attendance was the lowest in a long time. It’s obvious we have enough fans to come out and draw 2.6 (million), 2.7 (million) or 2.8 (million) if they like what they see.”

Reinsdorf was asked to confirm if that is the attendance the team needs to pay for everything.

“Somewhere in that range, yeah,” he said.

We’ll take the middle number of 2.7 million to determine the White Sox’s attendance needs. That averages out to a 33,333 a game needed to make things work.

Counting Thursday’s home opener crowd of 38,579 and Friday’s audience of 20,199, the White Sox have pulled in 58,778 in two games, for an average of 29,389. The White Sox now need to average 33,433 the rest of the way.

Crowds don’t typically get larger until warmer weather hits and school is out for the summer, but by then the White Sox might be too far behind their targeted average attendance to reach their goal.

It begs the question: Will White Sox fans find their ticket prices increased next season if they fail to show up in bunches this year?

“If we do get off to a good start and we do draw, we can probably cover the payroll,” Reinsdorf said. “If we can’t, we still have the resources where we could sustain a loss this year if we had to.”