Indians sales staff faced down big-time pressure

March 4, 2010
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Late last September, the Indianapolis Indians stared down the barrel of financial disaster.

Following the 2009 season, three-fourths of the team’s sponsorship deals expired, and in this economic climate that’s enough to make just about any sports business administrator hit the panic button.

But Indians officials stood in the batter’s box, dug in their cleats and didn’t blink. Instead, the team’s front office rolled up their sleeves and went to work.

They re-signed the vast majority of those sponsors and enough new ones to see a 5 percent sponsorship sales increase this year. Ticket sales also look positive a little more than a month before the season opens.

Among the Indians, there was never any doubt. In fact, the team kept with its philosophy of investing in Victory Field.

Since it opened in 1996, the Indians have poured $4 million in improvements to the ball park sitting on the west edge of downtown. Anyone in baseball will tell you no minor league team spends more on keeping its ballpark pristine than the Indians.

Despite the rocky economy and an uncertain future, the Indians stuck with that strategy. Instead of being detrimentally tight-fisted, the minor league affiliate of MLB's Pittsburgh Pirates dropped $600,000 into a new video board on the left field wall and $125,000 into much-needed front office renovations, including a re-vamped conference room and trophy display area. Indians officials also initiated a host of game promotions and specials to enhance the experience for fans during Indians home games.

Remember, the Indians are no major league franchise. The team’s financial performance has been steady, but their margins are thin. It takes solid management to churn out a profit near or slightly above $1 million year-after-year. Indians' total operating revenue for 2009 was only $8.5 million, less than one-fourth the operating budget for the Indianapolis Colts or Indiana Pacers.

It would be oh so easy to miscalculate by $10,000 here and $100,000 there and miss the mark and end up in the red. But for decades, the Indians never have. That’s probably why Indians stock trades as high as $25,000 per share.

So, even when times looked tough, like during this off-season, Indians management led by Chairman Max Schumacher and General Manger Cal Burleson never waivered.

And come the end of the team’s fiscal year Sept. 30, I’m sure they’ll register a solid score.

To read more on the Indians’ off-season initiatives and ramp-up for the 2010 season, see the March 8 IBJ print edition.
 

ADVERTISEMENT
  • That's a lot of selling
    As someone in sales, I can tell you that's a dang lot of selling. No matter what economy or under what conditions and no matter what business sector in. Renegotiating 3/4ths of your deals and coming up 5% ahead of last year is pretty darn good.
  • Odd
    It's odd in sports business practices to set up your sponsorships to have so many expire during the same year. A number of NBA franchises have been bitten by this. The Pacers for one, had bunches of suite leases expire the same year (2008) and had to really scramble to get those filled. The Pacers didn't have nearly the success ratio the Indians did. Anyway, you have to hand it to the Tribe staff for pulling this off at a less than ideal time. I bet they're trying to better stagger their deals now.
  • Odd?
    My take on contract expiration is that most of it depends on the clients wants/needs. I'm sure every business would like to stagger renewals but that's not always easily done, especially in the economy. Getting any multi-year deal in this climate is a win. Good timing Anthony on a Tribe post, best weather day around here in a long while.
  • Not so odd, Conseco opened in 1999 or 10 years ago. it might be smart to stagger contracts to expire in multi year groups.

    But in the Pacers defense, who would have seen the perfect storm of the Artest situation, the recession and the emergence of the Colts. All have taken their toll on the interest in the Pacers. They need to get a high draft pick and try to build a team around him.

Post a comment to this blog

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
  1. In reality, Lilly is maintaining profit by cutting costs such as Indiana/US citizen IT workers by a significant amount with their Tata Indian consulting connection, increasing Indian H1B's at Lillys Indiana locations significantly and offshoring to India high paying Indiana jobs to cut costs and increase profit at the expense of U.S. workers.

  2. I think perhaps there is legal precedence here in that the laws were intended for family farms, not pig processing plants on a huge scale. There has to be a way to squash this judges judgment and overrule her dumb judgement. Perhaps she should be required to live in one of those neighbors houses for a month next to the farm to see how she likes it. She is there to protect the people, not the corporations.

  3. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/engineer/facts/03-111.htm Corporate farms are not farms, they are indeed factories on a huge scale. The amount of waste and unhealthy smells are environmentally unsafe. If they want to do this, they should be forced to buy a boundary around their farm at a premium price to the homeowners and landowners that have to eat, sleep, and live in a cesspool of pig smells. Imagine living in a house that smells like a restroom all the time. Does the state really believe they should take the side of these corporate farms and not protect Indiana citizens. Perhaps justifiable they should force all the management of the farms to live on the farm itself and not live probably far away from there. Would be interesting to investigate the housing locations of those working at and managing the corporate farms.

  4. downtown in the same area as O'malia's. 350 E New York. Not sure that another one could survive. I agree a Target is needed d'town. Downtown Philly even had a 3 story Kmart for its downtown residents.

  5. Indy-area residents... most of you have no idea how AMAZING Aurelio's is. South of Chicago was a cool pizza place... but it pales in comparison to the heavenly thin crust Aurelio's pizza. Their deep dish is pretty good too. My waistline is expanding just thinking about this!

ADVERTISEMENT