Roller Girls seek perfect attendance

May 14, 2008
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rollergirls2The Naptown Roller Girls expect their fourth straight sell-out May 17 in the 4,000-seat Toyota Blue Ribbon Pavilion at the Indiana State Fairground. That will make four for four in sell-outs this year, with just one home game remaining June 14. Not bad for a start-up team in a start-up league, The Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.

The rabid fan following has spurred talk of moving the team’s games—possibly even to Pepsi Coliseum—next season.

The Roller Girls’ success at a time when many women's professional sports leagues are having difficulty gaining a strong, consistent fan following is baffling to sports marketers.

The roller derby league is a remake of the roller derby fans loved three decades ago. While some women have stage names, the current league is lighter on theatrics and heavier on competition than its 1970s forerunner. 

Doors for this Saturday’s 7 p.m. game open at 6 p.m., and team officials expect all tickets to be gone by 6:15 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door—cash only.

The team’s Feb. 9 sell out drew almost 4,500 fans for a standing room only crowd. The crowd was so big, team officials had to cap ticket sales for subsequent games.

The locally based women’s roller derby team—also known as the Tornado Sirens—is also developing a strong following with sponsors, with 15 deals signed to date. Sponsors include Butler Toyota, Nuvo Newsweekly and Indy CD & Vinyl.

Ticket buyers are warned that game crowds can become exceptionally loud, and that children afraid of loud noises should stay home. Despite the loud atmosphere, team officials said the environment is family friendly. But the first two rows are not for the faint-of-heart. Players occasionally careen off the track and into the crowd.
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  • Hey.
    This is Lou Harry, checking in from the IBJ A&E blog.
    After experiencing one Naptown Roller Girls game, I call myself a fan. The match was fun and competitive and the crowd passionate and diverse. My 6-year-old had a blast as well.
    Warning: It may take a period to figure out the rules, but that's part of the fun.
    It's not the Roller Derby I remember from the Kansas City Bomber days (Had to throw in a pop culture reference. It's what I do.) It's better.
    If I only I could find the time to get to another match.
    Go NRG.
    Lou
    P.S. Feel free to stop by http://ae.ibj.com/
  • Personally, I'm a fan of the Roller Girls because I recognized so many of them from my Punk Rock Night days at the Melody Inn. I suspect it's that sort of familiarity that gives them such a loyal following. The squad is composed of an eclectic mix of local business women, art students, rockers and moms, so their niche is far-reaching. The fact that you could attend an event and possibly know someone on the team makes them a natural draw. It is truly an all-inclusive athletic event that draws fans from all walks of life.

    By the way, this is coming from someone who works at a law firm during the day but moonlights as a drummer in a punk rock band at night. :)
  • I know a lot of family-oriented folks and corporate types love the Naptown Roller Girls. I think the price is right and the supply-demand ratio is turning out great for this team. It's important to note, the Roller Girls never sought out high-brow meetings with high level corporate types to promote their product like other pro franchises in this market. Grass roots all the way.

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  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

  3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

  5. Look at the bright side. With the new Lowe's call center, that means 1000 jobs at $10 bucks an hour. IMS has to be drooling over all that disposable income. If those employees can save all their extra money after bills, in five years they can go to the race LIVE. Can you say attendance boost?

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