The Cleveland Indians continue to hang around the playoff chase, but apparently the team’s proximity to a possible wild card berth hasn’t aroused the ticket buying public.
Last night, in a game against one of the teams they are competing against for a post-season spot, they drew less than 10,000 fans.
Why haven’t the fans responded to this group of Indians? Many theories have been bandied about all season long, but we wanted to add our perspective.
We would propose that the Indians lower their ticket prices for the 2014 season.
The ownership will surely tell you that will result in lower revenue for the team, but a baseball team isn’t a set product where the cost of the part results in the selling price.
Getting more people in the park at lower prices will generate more revenue. The Indians talk about the market conditions in Cleveland all the time, but they haven’t reduced the ticket prices substantially.
Sure, they have a lot of programs for limited season tickets, “loaded” tickets, etc., but a price reduction on a night in, night out basis is needed to get people back in the habit of going to Indians’ games.
Once there, they will see it is a great entertainment experience. That is, if the ballclub is competitive. And it will help to sell single game tickets before Christmas. People like to give them out as gifts.
We have touched on this before, but the Tribe front office made a major miscalculation in staying with WTAM as its flagship station.
The Browns went the other route and hooked up with both WKNR and 92.3 FM, two all sports talk stations. Doing that made them the topic of conversation pretty much everyday of the year, making the Indians the proverbial red-headed stepchild.
Moving the Tribe games to either of these two stations would have made those stations talk about the Indians, considering they would be the primary programming at night.
The more conversation involving the baseball team would generate interest in going to the games.
The organization dropped the ball on this one.
The other reason for fans not going is the Indians record against the marquis teams in the American League.
Casual fans know certain teams. They know of the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Detroit Tigers. When the Indians beat them, they get credibility with the lukewarm fans.
Unfortunately, the Tribe is 6-27 against those teams.
Now, we know that beating those teams doesn’t guarantee you a spot in the playoffs, nor it is impossible to make the playoffs unless you beat those teams.
However, the Indians need to attract fans who aren’t die hards to come to Progressive Field, and the comment you get when you tell a lot of people that Terry Francona’s team has a chance to make the playoffs is that they won’t because they can’t beat the Tigers or Yankees or Red Sox.
Here’s hoping the ownership doesn’t look at the lack of attendance as a reason to cut payroll in 2014. If they do, the fan base may never recover. The negative image of the Dolan ownership is based on that idea.
A recent column by Terry Pluto revealed the reason the Tribe didn’t trade for former Twins’ slugger Justin Morneau was because attendance was down, ownership didn’t want to spend more money.
That comment just confirms fans’ fears of the owner of the Cleveland Indians.
To get the fans back, the front office must build upon the improvement from 2012 to 2013. Taking a step back because of low attendance won’t help the relationship with the people who buy tickets.