IU-Notre Dame game at Victory Field deemed success despite attendance dip

Though attendance for this year’s Indiana University-Notre Dame baseball game at Victory Field was down compared to the inaugural match-up at the Vic last year, Indianapolis Indians officials are calling the event a big hit again.

On Tuesday night, 6,607 turned out to watch the Hoosiers and Irish slug it out on a stormy night. That’s down from 8,727 for the game last year—the first time the two teams clashed in Indianapolis.

Still the game beat original expectations when this event was first conceived. Before last year’s game, Indians officials said they expected around 4,500 for the IU-ND game.

Indians officials told IBJ Thursday they are already in talks with officials from both schools about scheduling the game for 2017.

The game has become a huge networking event for IU and Notre Dame alums, and IU Athletic Director Fred Glass told IBJ after last year’s game he’d like to see it become an annual event. 

Financial terms of the deal for the Indians to host the game were not disclosed, but sources familiar with it said there is a ticket-revenue sharing component.

The game isn’t a huge money maker for any of the three parties involved, Glass told IBJ, but he added that it gives both schools' baseball programs exposure in an important market. The Indians, too, will benefit from the exposure, team officials said.

Despite the weather, Tuesday's game went a full nine innings, with Notre Dame winning 5-0. But, no doubt, the band of storms, which hovered along Interstate 70 from late afternoon through most of the evening, had an impact on attendance. It drizzled during much of the first part of the game.

In addition to the weather, the game’s attendance was likely hurt by the Indiana Pacers-Toronto Raptors first-round playoff game, which tipped off an hour before the baseball game began. The Raptors won a nail biter to take a 3-2 series lead.

And while IU and Notre Dame both entered the game with solid 23-15 records, they aren’t the powers they were in recent years, when both were candidates to play in the College World Series. That success, of course, drove a lot of fan interest.

The atmosphere at Tuesday’s game was stellar, Indians officials said.

“It was fun. There’s a different vibe than at a typical Indians game,” said Indians spokesman Jon Glesing. “There is cheering at both types of games but there was just more of a college feel [Tuesday] night. What I enjoyed the most was the ping of the aluminum bat. You don’t hear that hardly ever at Victory Field.”

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