This story is part of ESPN The Magazine's September 29 Fansourced Issue. Subscribe today!
Last year's ranking: 62
Title track: 22
Fan relations: 48
Stadium experience: 64
Bang for the buck: 93
The Cell remains a rather solitary place. As of mid-September, average home attendance at U.S. Cellular Field was 20,455, third worst in the league. If this holds up, it will mark the eighth consecutive season of declining crowds from a high of 36,511 in 2006, the year after the White Sox won the World Series.
What's behind the South Siders' continuing free fall in fan participation? One reason is a dearth of W's. The Sox will miss the postseason for the sixth consecutive season. But at least the hardy fans who do show up at 35th and Shields are getting a relative bargain. Their team climbed 17 spots in our affordability ranking, its second straight year of double-digit improvement (up from 57 last year and 71 in 2012). Maybe that's because for roughly the same number of wins (or lack thereof) the ChiSox offer a better deal than their fellow also-rans on the North Side. The average cost of a Sox ticket ($26.05) is about two dollars below the major league average and a full $18 less than a visit to the Cubs. And the difference in average cost per game ($51.47 vs. $73.99 for the Cubs) is even more dramatic.
While the Cell can't complete with Wrigley Field in terms of atmosphere, it has undergone a seven-year, $100 million face-lift that made things more cozy and fan-friendly. All Sunday home games are Family Days, which feature $10 parking (compared with $20 the rest of the week), upper-deck seats priced as low as $5 and face painting and postgame baserunning for the kids. For the grown-ups: New beer options, bacon on a stick and the Winning Ugly Grand Slam (an ode to the gritty '83 AL West championship team) are all winners.
What about actual wins? Well, the future isn't entirely dim for the Pale Hose. Chris Sale is still under contract for at least three more years. Adam Eaton has provided a late-season spark at the top of the order in his first full season in the majors. And Cuban slugger Jose Abreu is putting the finishing touches on one of the best offensive seasons by a rookie in more than a century. But the question remains: Will anyone be around to witness the revolution?