Batter up: Indians score big profit

While it’s still frigid outside, it will be heating up inside the corporate offices at Victory Field today, where the Indianapolis Indians will conduct the franchise’s annual shareholders meeting at 3 p.m. It’s difficult to say how the team will do on the field this season, but Indians executives anticipate a banner year financially.

Team profit grew from $810,000 in 2006 to $1.27 million in 2007. Last year marked the first time in three seasons the club’s profit surpassed $1 million. Fueled by an aggressive marketing campaign, attendance hit its highest mark in six seasons. Ticket sales increased 15 percent, merchandise sales rose 10 percent, and concession sales were up 33 percent.

Walk-up ticket sales were so brisk, the team this off-season spent $250,000 to add three ticket windows to the six existing. Indians board members are expected to give an update on other revenue-driving projects at today’s meeting.

Indians stockholders will be just as eager to hear about the franchise’s most recent stock buyback. Board members agreed in late November to significantly increase their offer in an ongoing stock-buyback effort, from $15,329 to $21,832 per share. Since the team retires shares it buys, shareholders who decide not to sell own a larger slice of the team.

At last count, there were 789 outstanding shares of Indians stock remaining, held by 210 stockholders. That would give the franchise a $17.2 million value. One stockholder estimated the value of the franchise at nearly $24 million.

In this time of economic uncertainty, can the Indians expect to improve on last year’s fiscal performance? And what is the team’s true value?

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