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The Score - Anthony Schoettle

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Sports Business

Indians have shot at another attendance record

July 17, 2015
KEYWORDS Sports Business

Through 47 homes games, Indianapolis Indians attendance is down about 3 percent this year over last.

That’s not bad considering the team set an all-time attendance record of 660,289 last year, besting the previous record of 659,237 set in 1998.

The monsoon-like summer Indianapolis has experienced also is worth mentioning.

Either way, the Indians still have several things going in their favor as the 72-game home season comes down the home stretch.

So far this year, 391,848 fans have come through the turnstiles at Victory Field on the west edge of downtown, compared with 403,182 for the same number of games a year ago.

Team officials still think theyhave a solid chance of nearing last year’s record.

“We’re optimistic we can finish the season strong,” said Indians spokesman Jon Glesing.

Here’s why:

— The Indians have 11 weekend (Friday-Sunday) games left this year. Those games are by far the best attended.

— This June was the seventh-wettest month in Indianapolis history, which means lots of Indians fans have likely delayed their trip to the ballpark while awaiting nicer weather. This year, the team has had one rainout in June vs. no rainouts last June. And rainouts in June are big hits to attendance. Several other June games were played under the threat of rain, which likely deterred fans from coming.

— Group sales are on a record pace this year. “That’s a good thing,” explained Glesing, “it’s bodies we can count on being here without hoping for a strong walk-up crowd.

— Indians’ picnic ticket sales—the large group areas behind the Coors Light Cove in left field and Corona Light Beach in right field—are projected to surpass last year’s record total by almost 5 percent.

Indians’ attendance has spiked in recent years. The team only drew 549,552 in its 2009 season, in the aftermath of the Great Recession. The annual figure edged to 569,969 in 2010, 580,082 in 2011 and 595,043 in 2012. The 2013 total, 637,579, was the highest in Minor League Baseball.

Team executives said that in the last five years, they’ve taken a more aggressive approach to sales and marketing. There’s also the theory that the Indians’ moderately priced tickets became more attractive as an entertainment option amid the slow recovery from the Great Recession.

This year, the team—which is averaging nearly 8,400 fans per game—is third in the 14-team International League in attendance, and is very nearly second. The team is expected to be near the top five in attendance in all of Minor League Baseball.-

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