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The Score - Anthony Schoettle

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Sports Business

Colts ticket demand surges in wake of free agent signings

March 18, 2015
KEYWORDS Sports Business

Before they’ve even played their first game for the Indianapolis Colts, running back Frank Gore and wide receiver Andre Johnson are proving to be good for business.

Within days of the Colts’ signing the high-profile free agents, about 300 people paid a deposit to be on the season ticket waiting list. They may wait awhile.

With demand for Colts season tickets climbing, the list now has 8,000 people. That’s 500 more than a year ago.

Chief Operating Officer Pete Ward said season ticket renewals are running 4 percentage points ahead of this time last year. He expects the renewal rate to settle at or above 95 percent.

The deadline to renew season tickets was March 16, but Ward said the renewals will “trickle in for the next week or two.”

Like last year, the Colts  are expected to be among NFL leaders in season renewals.

This year’s demand for Colts tickets is a stark contrast to three years ago, when season renewals fell 6 percentage points to 87 percent following a 2-14 season and the release of quarterback Peyton Manning. That season was the first time in a decade, Ward said, that the Colts’ rate slid below 90 percent.

There’s little doubt that the chatter about the Colts being a Super Bowl contender next year has amped interest in the team’s home market.

Quarterback Andrew Luck has been sensational since he was drafted three years ago, leading the team to the playoffs each year, but optimism is at an all-time high. If General Manager Ryan Grigson can beef up the offensive and defensive lines a little, this team should be among the pre-season favorites to win it all next season.

It’s not just non-premium seats in demand.

All five Lucas Oil Stadium suites coming  up for renewal after the 2014 season also were quickly renewed or sold, meaning the Colts have sold out the 143 suites for 2015, Ward said.

All 7,100 club seats are sold out, too, with a 700-plus waiting list, Ward said. Those premium seats go for between $245 and $291 per game or $2,450 to $2,910 for the season.

“It’s difficult to say what’s attributable to the free agent signings and what was due to the [approaching] deadline,” Ward said. “We usually see a surge near the deadline, but there’s certainly a lot of excitement around the team right now, too.”

Momentum started building last season when the Colts made it to the AFC Championship game.

“Winning is a great marketing asset,” Ward said. “That’s not to say our sales and marketing team hasn’t worked really hard, too. They have, and we’re really happy to have a healthy renewal rate in a small market. I believe we will be sold out for all our games [next season].”

After the renewals are tabulated, Ward thinks 3,100 or so Colts tickets will be left for each home game, adding that those will likely be snapped up by people on the waiting list.

Each year, the Colts hold out about 3,000 tickets for group sales.

Somewhere between a couple of dozen to a few hundred tickets could be sold for each home game as the visiting teams’ and Colts players’ allotment is returned. But there’s no guarantee those tickets will be available. Fans wanting to see a single game next year might have to buy on the secondary market.

On average, ticket prices to Colts games increased 1.3 percent for the 2015 season. The increase over the last two years has been about 2 percent, according to team officials.

For 10 games—eight regular season and two pre-season—prices for non-premium seats range from $440 to $1,400 for the upcoming season.

Lucas Oil Stadium officially holds 62,448. However, the Colts squeeze in more bodies by selling standing-room-only tickets—mostly to people in suites and other luxury areas. Last year, the Colts averaged 65,375 per home game. That was a slight drop from the 65,950 the team averaged in 2013.

Given the demand this year, averaging 66,000 per regular season home game isn’t out of the question.

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