With 14 home games remaining, the Indianapolis Indians are again among the leaders in Minor League Baseball attendance.
It remains to be seen if the Tribe can improve upon last year’s attendance. Or if they can run down the Charlotte Knights to top the International League.
After 56 home dates, the Indians' average attendance is 9,057. That’s good for second in the International League, which consists of 14 AAA affiliates of Major League Baseball teams. Charlotte is averaging 9,068 after 52 home dates.
Indianapolis and Charlotte have battled tooth and nail over the last few years for the MiLB attendance title. Charlotte was No. 2 last year, with total attendance of 628,173. That was just behind the Indians’ 636,888, which was tops among 160 U.S. minor league baseball teams.
For 71 home dates last year, the Indians averaged 8,970 per game.
Indianapolis led MiLB in attendance in 2013, finished runner-up to Charlotte in 2014, and was third in 2015 behind Sacramento and Charlotte.
The Indians' toughest challenge might be besting its own mark.
Despite leading MiLB in attendance in 2016, it was still a 4 percent decline from 2015.
Heading into 2016, the Indians, the AAA minor league affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, had increased attendance each of the last six years and set attendance records in each of the last two years. Prior to 2014, the previous attendance record (659,237) was set in 1998.
Despite the slight decline last year, the Indians were far ahead of the team’s season attendance when it started rising in 2009. That year it was 549,552. Team officials credit aggressive sales and marketing for the increase.
While the last one or two games are often sellouts at the 14,200-seat Victory Field, attendance can slump a bit now that many schools are back in session. Last year, the Tribe sold out its last two home games—on Friday night and Saturday—to edge Charlotte.
The Indians close the home slate this season with Friday, Saturday and Sunday games Aug. 25-27 against Columbus.
Indians officials know that just because the team’s attendance is running ahead of last year’s season-ending pace, doesn’t mean they can rest easy.
The 4 percent decline in 2016 came despite the fact that the Indians were running more than 8 percent ahead of 2015’s record pace headed into the second week of July.