Let's Play Two Numbers Show There Is Room Enough for Two Professional Baseball Clubs in the Suburbs

Article excerpt

Byline: Eric Krol Daily Herald Staff Writer

Suburban pro baseball a hit with fans

Before the Kane County Cougars, naysayers said the Chicago market couldn't support a minor league team.

The Class A Midwest League team proved them wrong. In 1991, their first season, they drew an average of 3,640 fans to each game.

Before the Schaumburg Flyers pitched their first game this spring, naysayers argued the suburbs couldn't support two professional baseball franchises.

On June 19, the teams together drew 18,846 fans.

The success of both teams doesn't come as a surprise to the management behind either club. "We really weren't overly concerned," Cougars General Manager Jeff Sedivy said. "We thought there was more than enough room for the both of us."

When the Schaumburg Flyers took the field this spring, no one knew whether the team would cut into the fan base the Kane County Cougars had been building for eight years or if it would attract new fans to professional baseball in the suburbs.

More than halfway through the season it is apparent there's room in the 'burbs for both teams.

The Cougars are drawing 6,390 fans a game to their Geneva home, a full 140 people per contest more than they attracted last year at this point in the season. The Flyers, meanwhile, are averaging 5,367 fans a game, filling most seats in their sparkling new stadium.

The success of both teams doesn't come as a surprise to the management behind either club.

"We really weren't overly concerned," Cougars General Manager Jeff Sedivy said. "We thought there was more than enough room for the both of us."

Situated 15 miles apart, both stadiums draw from the west and northwest suburbs. Last year, the Cougars drew 64 percent of their fans from Cook and DuPage counties - the heart of the Flyers new territory.

Flyers General Manager John Dittrich said the club hoped to draw 5,000 fans a game, so he is happy the numbers are above that mark. The Flyers stadium seats 5,615 and can squeeze in another 2,000 on the lawn.

The Cougars' Elfstrom Stadium seats 5,900 and with lawn seating can comfortably accommodate crowds up to 12,500.

"The last time I looked, the Cougars are leading the Midwest League in attendance," Dittrich said. "Obviously, we have not affected them."

Cougars officials are surprised, however, that they're on pace to break the club record of 481,000 in a season.

Sedivy credits the addition of a big TV screen to the scoreboard and increased billboard advertising for holding his ground against the Flyers' entry into the market. …