What a difference a year makes.
For the Indianapolis Colts, 12 page flips of the calendar mean the outlook for the team on the field and at the box office has done a complete about-face.
Last year at this time, the Colts were coming off a 2-14 season and had seen their season-ticket renewal rate drop more than six percentage points, to 87 percent. It was the first time in more than a decade that season-ticket renewal had slipped below 90 percent.
With star quarterback Peyton Manning packing his bags for Denver and with new and unknown commodities in key coaching and front-office roles, the doomsday preppers were out in force.
This year, few are questioning the moxie of Head Coach Chuck Pagano and football acumen of General Manager Ryan Grigson, and even fewer haven’t fallen in love with soon-to-be-second-year quarterback Andrew Luck.
After last year’s 11-5 rebound season, which culminated in a surprising playoff appearance, all the angst has melted into a puddle of love for the Colts, and it's showing in ticket sales.
The March 7 deadline has passed for Colts season-ticket holders to have their renewals postmarked, and team officials said the renewal rate is approaching 95 percent as the last of them trickle in. That matches the rate at which Colts fans renewed season tickets during Manning’s salad days in Indianapolis.
It’s not just seats that are selling hot for the Colts. The 13 Lucas Oil Stadium luxury suites that were available this off-season also have been sold. The pricey luxury suites are an important revenue generator for the team.
“We’re getting lots of good feedback from our fans,” said Colts Chief Operating Officer Pete Ward. “We have a young, exciting team, and our fans have responded to that. We’re really thankful for their support.”
The strong renewal rate means the Colts have only a few thousand remaining tickets to sell. After taking the next month to offer existing season-ticket holders the opportunity to upgrade their seats, Ward said, the Colts will offer the remainder for sale as season tickets.
If there are still tickets available after that, the team will hold an open house during a mini-camp practice on June 12 to let prospective ticket buyers check out the available seats.
Only after the season-ticket sale ends in the summer—and only if there are still tickets available—will single-game tickets go on sale.
Last year at this time, the Colts had 8,200 tickets to sell. They still had 1,600 left for the season opener about a month before the 2012 season kickoff.
No one expects that to be the case this season.
“We think we’ve put together a good product and we never take for granted that we play in a great venue,” Ward said. “We feel we have a lot to look forward to next season.”