Indians’ financial outlook sky high as attendance soars

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The Indianapolis Indians finished their 2013 season with the highest overall regular-season attendance of all 176 Minor League Baseball teams.

This year, the Indians drew 637,579 fans (8,980 per game) through the turnstiles. The Tribe’s home attendance was the fourth-largest in Victory Field history and the best single-season total since the team’s championship campaign in 2000.

The Indians’ record home attendance was 658,250 in 1999. Victory Field opened July 11, 1996.

Victory Field saw a record-setting eight sellouts this season, which surpassed the previous high mark of six capacity crowds in 1997. The Indians this season hosted 25 crowds of 10,000 or more spectators.

As the season progressed, the Indians drew consistently larger crowds, drawing more than10,000 fans per game since the beginning of May (55 games), 10,500 plus since the start of June (43 games) and 11,000 plus in each of the last 24 home contests dating back to July 4.

The Indians weren’t done blazing a trail as the regular season concluded. Along with leading all of the Minors in regular-season attendance, the Indians also boasted Victory Field’s largest playoff crowd of 11,327 fans on Sept. 6 against Durham. The single-game record-setting crowd was larger than all other International League team’s combined home attendance for the postseason, with the Tribe outdrawing Pawtucket through the Red Sox’s three combined games (9,518), Rochester through two combined games (8,587) and Durham through two combined games (7,357).

This season’s regular season attendance was a 7 percent increase over last season, when the Indians drew 595,043 for 70 regular-season home games, averaging 8,501 fans per game. Two post-season home games pushed last year's total attendance up to 605,575 , which was fifth among all Minor League Baseball teams.

Attendance has been on a steady rise the past five seasons, hitting 549,552 in 2009; 569,969 in 2010; and 580,082 in 2011.

Though year-end financial data for the publicly traded team is not yet available, ticket sales revenue this year should be near $5 million, and overall team profit should be near or above $1.7 million. That's a considerable increase in profits from just a few years ago. In 2010 the team had a profit of $944,286.

The Indians, a farm club of the Pittsburgh Pirates, saw profit grow to $1.57 million on operating revenue of $11 million in 2012, compared with profit of $1.06 million on revenue of $10 million in 2011.

Ticket sales increased from $4.3 million in 2011 to more than $4.6 million in 2012. Ticket sales are a key indicator of the franchise’s overall financial health, since they directly affect parking, concession, souvenir and other ancillary revenue streams.

The Indians consistently find themselves in the black while paying the city $500,000 annually to lease Victory Field, paying for all operational and capital expenses at the ball park and receiving no public subsidy.


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