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The Score - Anthony Schoettle

Welcome to The Score, your place for hard-hitting sports business news, fast-breaking updates and fuel-injected debate.  Buckle up.  I'm your host, Anthony Schoettle, IBJ sports reporter.

Sports Business

Colts fans want a little pay back

January 25, 2010
KEYWORDS Sports Business

During the good times for any professional sports franchise there’s a lot of talk about not taking your team—and what they’re accomplishing—for granted.

And true to form, I’ve heard that refrain more than a few times this year among local media folks and some of the Indianapolis Colts’ faithful.
 
But you know, there’s a flip side to that.
 
Teams too need to be careful not to take things for granted; namely, their fans’ loyalty—and willingness to part with hard earned dollars to support the home team.

I’m not saying the Colts haven’t done a fine job with fan relations so far. What I am saying is that they’re sitting in the locker room at half time, and adjustments always need to be made.

This era of on-field productivity is a rare opportunity for the Colts to foster some true blue loyalty with their fans. Again, they’re on their way. But I’m not convinced they’ve hit maximum pay dirt yet.
 
And I’m not just talking about the big-money backers. Those front runners melt in your mouth faster than the overpriced chocolate candies sold at the stadium’s concession stands.

And I don’t want to hear about long season ticket waiting lists. Those evaporate faster than cotton candy on the end of your tongue. Anyone in sports sales should know that.

The delicate balance between a team and its fans is why the handling of something as seemingly innocuous as the disbursement of Super Bowl tickets can be such a slippery slope.
 
By the way, the drawing for the tickets was done long ago, so if you’re a season ticket holder and haven’t been notified yet, you didn’t get drawn.

Anyone can do the math. There are about 60,000 Colts season tickets sold. Dolphin Stadium holds 75,540, and the Colts and Saints each get 17.5 percent of those. That means the Colts sales staff gets about 13,320 Super Bowl tickets to disburse.
 
Here’s how the rest of the Super Bowl tickets are disbursed: 1.2 percent to each team not in the game, 5 percent to the host team/city, 25.2 percent to the NFL—which hands them out to sponsors, broadcast partners and the host committee.

So, you can see, not every Colts season ticket holder is going. But they all want to feel like they had a fair shot. If they don’t, they won’t be shy about hollering louder about it than they would a Peyton Manning benching.
 
During the good times, fans will let teams know of their displeasure, but will likely continue to come back. But that bad karma during bad times always comes back to bite the home team in the butt—and the pocketbook.

I hear from season ticket holders—and not just Colts—all the time, and little things matter. The Colts know this. For the most part, they’ve done a great job bonding with their fans. Who could forget the statewide tour the Colts took the Lombardi trophy on when they last won the Super Bowl.

But just as many fans remember a pile of Super Bowl tickets that year being distributed to state lawmakers. Some fans think they get pushed aside for fat-cat sponsors. Several told me they were still steamed that fewer than half of the allotment for Peyton Manning’s first Super Bowl went to actual season ticket holders.

Colts sales staffers are smarter than your average bear. That’s probably why when I called to get details of the dispersal Friday, it sounded more like I was talking to a Secret Service agent than a Colts sales executive. Colts officials wouldn’t even tell me how many tickets the team would have to disburse. The NFL divulged that tidbit.

The only thing I was told is that the team conducts a drawing weighted by seniority of season ticket holders. Colts officials wouldn’t tell me what that formula is, how season ticket holder would be notified or where fans would pick up their Super Bowl tickets.

OK. Fair enough if you don’t want to tell the media. But season ticket holders may demand more.

A fair shot. A measure of loyalty given back. That’s all fans want. In some ways, they’re no different than the athletes and coaches they cheer.

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