A strong regular season and a playoff run pushed Indianapolis Indians’ home attendance to its best mark in four years and fourth best at Victory Field since 2000.
The “regular-season attendance increase of nearly 15,000 fans was the highest in the 14-team International League,” said General Manager Cal Burleson. “This achievement was a real team effort.”
A strong marketing plan and family-oriented promotions helped fuel the gains, Burleson said, adding that a competitive team fielded by the Indians’ Major League Baseball affiliate, the Pittsburgh Pirates, helped boost interest in the team.
The team went 89-55 overall and 48-24 at home before losing to the Charlotte Knights 3-1 in the first round of the playoffs.
An extremely warm, dry summer and only two rainouts also helped attendance, Indians officials added.
The Indians drew 595,043 for 70 regular-season home games, averaging 8,501 fans per game. Two post-season home games pushed total attendance up to 605,575 for the season, which was fifth among 176 Minor League Baseball teams.
During the first round of the International League playoffs, the Indians drew more fans—10,532—than the other three league teams in the playoffs combined—8,554.
Sports marketers say affordable ticket prices for Indians games—relative to other sporting events—during a poor economy have helped fuel attendance increases in recent years.
“This organization has several things going for it,” said Larry DeGaris, director of academic sports marketing programs at the University of Indianapolis. “They have a great facility in Victory Field, they’re at the right price point given the economy, and they’re very innovative in terms of entertainment and special promotions. What they’re selling is part baseball, part outdoor picnic with a little bit of carnival thrown in.”
Attendance has been on a steady rise the past four seasons, hitting 549,552 in 2009, 569,969 in 2010, and 580,082 last season. Last year's per-game average for 71 home games was 8,170.
Ticket revenue accounted for $4.3 million of the team’s $10.1 million in operating revenue in 2011. The team had profit of $1.06 million last year, its 36th straight profitable year.
The team's all-time best attendance came in 1999, when it drew 658,250 fans.