By Daniel O’Boyle
Home attendance for the South Bend Cubs, South Bend’s Class-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, has reached a record high for the third consecutive season. Attendances at Four Winds Field have increased for five consecutive years, driven partly by stadium expansion.
After stadium expansions for the 2015 season – bringing the capacity of Four Winds Field from 5,000 to just over 8,000 – helped the Cubs set a new attendance record in 2015 with 347,678, attendances have continued to rise, albeit at a slower pace. Tickets sales increased to 350,803 for 2016, a 0.9% increase. The team also set a record for sellouts, as 40 of the team’s 69 home games sold out.
As well as the stadium expansion, the increase in attendance in recent years may have been influenced by the team’s change in ownership, name and affiliation. In November 2011, coming off an attendance of just 112,795, the Cubs were purchased by Andrew Berlin, the Chicago-based owner of Berlin packaging. At the time the team were known as South Bend Silver Hawks and affiliated with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but signed a 4-year player development agreement in 2014 with the Chicago Cubs.
South Bend made the Midwest League quarterfinals last year, where it was defeated in three games by the West Michigan Whitecaps. In August of 2016, Berlin announced that a new $21 million mixed-use development named Berlin Place will be built at Four Winds Field. It is set to be completed by March 2018.
The South Bend Cubs’ 2017 season begins at West Michigan on Thursday, April 6th. The first Cubs game at Four Winds Field will be Saturday, April 8th when the Cubs host the Whitecaps. Tickets go on sale March 8th at SouthBendCubs.com and the South Bend Cubs box office.