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Indians extend deal with Pirates through 2016

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The Indianapolis Indians on Monday announced they have agreed to extend their deal to remain the AAA farm team for the Pittsburgh Pirates  through 2016.

Financial terms of the deal were not released. Major League Baseball teams typically cover the player payroll for their minor league farm teams, leaving the farm team to cover venue operations.

The Indianapolis Indians have been profitable for 37 consecutive years, according to public financial records. The franchise saw profit grow to $1.57 million on operating revenue of $11 million in 2012, compared with profit of $1.06 million on revenue of $10 million in 2011.

“The Pirates leadership team of President Frank Coonelly, General Manager Neal Huntington, Assistant General Manager Kyle Stark and Director of Minor League Operations Larry Broadway has provided excellent leadership for the organization,” said Indians Vice President and General Manager Cal Burleson in a prepared statement.

“Indians Manager Dean Treanor and his outstanding coaching staff have been great to work with, and our players have performed extremely well," Burleson said. "It has been exciting to see the Pirates become strong contenders for the postseason with former Indians like Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Starling Marte, Neil Walker, Tony Sanchez, Jordy Mercer, Gerrit Cole and many others playing such an important role.”

The Pirates are in first place in the National League Central with a record of 70-47. The team is closing in on its first winning season since 1992.

It’s no secret that Indians Chairman Max Schumacher has long demanded that the Major League Baseball affiliate of the Indians field a strong team in Indianapolis.

Since the Indians began their affiliation with the Pirates in 2005, they have posted a 668-604 regular-season record (through Sunday), including a 352-289 mark at Victory Field. Indianapolis currently holds a 10-game lead in the International League West Division. With a playoff berth this season, the Tribe will have reached the postseason in four of its nine years under Pittsburgh.

The Pirates’ Broadway cited Indianapolis’ “passionate fan base” as a big reason why Pirates executives extended the deal.

“We are looking forward to continuing our strong partnership with the Indianapolis Indians and the city of Indianapolis,” Coonelly said. “Indianapolis is a Major League city and Victory Field is a great facility for our players to call home.”

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  • Now about the fan experience...
    Great move for both sides. The Pirates have a lot of young talent that will come through Indy over the next several years and the geography is great for the Pirates. Now it's time for the Indians front office to step up and improve the fan experience. As someone who worked in the MiLB industry, I am continuously disappointed by the operations at the Vic. The front office is still living off the "Best Ballpark in the Nation" toast from 1997. Hey guys, it's not even the best MiLB park in the state anymore - check out Ft. Wayne. The prices are waaaay too high for MiLB ball. Food and beverages are priced on part with the big leagues, which might be acceptable if the food was of big league quality. I personally bought two hot dogs last Monday that had clearly been reheated from the night before. Pathetic and probably not even up to health code standards. The stands are regularly out of staples (they ran out of hot dogs by the fourth inning on Opening Day a couple years back) and when they do have food, it's of poor quality. A customer in front of me ordered a chocolate shake that was essentially chocolate milk, she returned it. The ice cream, even on these cool evenings melts before you return to your seat. The lines are regularly long because stands are closed or understaffed and little things like condiment stands are often ill-stocked or so spread out you have to walk several sections to put mustard on the reheated hot dog you just purchased. The financial success of the team is not to be debated, but at what cost? You are a minor league team in a major league market. There is an exciting new minor league soccer team coming to town. It's time to realize this MiLB isn't Bush League ball like the Bush Stadium days. It's serious business. The team has had remarkable stability in its front office over the decades, which is a blessing and a curse. Get out and see how other teams are doing it. Visit Ft. Wayne, they're getting it right. Check out Memphis. The Quad Cities. They're getting it right. Most teams are. Drop your prices at the stands and serve quality food. Be consistent with your promotions (apparently Kids Eat Free doesn't count if you have a lawn seat, found that out after going to the game), give us a break on tickets for kids (really I only get a $1 break on my 4 yo? She's just interested in eating overpriced food anyway. How about half price, we'll go to more games and you'll make more in the long run). The team is doing great financially, but there's a lot more money to be made by improving the experience, attracting even more families and fully taking advantage of the marketing possibilities of your beautiful facility. Your fans and shareholders alike will thank you.

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