Hope runs high that Andrew Luck will return next season to quarterback the Indianapolis Colts, but not high enough to persuade some season-ticket holders to renew their seats.
The deadline to renew seats was March 8, and, although some stragglers are still trickling in, the renewal rate is about 80 percent of last year's total of about 57,000 seats, Colts Chief Operating Officer Pete Ward said. That would put the total number of renewed seats at about 46,000.
However, Ward expects the number of seats claimed by season-ticket holders to eventually climb well above 50,000 for this season, as the team works to secure new season-long patrons.
"We could be between 53,000 and 55,000," Ward said. "We're actively selling."
Lucas Oil Stadium sells out at 63,000, although temporary seats can be added to get capacity up to 67,000 if necessary.
While the renewal rate might seem low, Ward is encouraged by the response, given that the team is coming off a 4-12 season without its star quarterback—not to mention the controversy last year surrounding the decision by some players to kneel during the national anthem.
“I think fans are excited about [Coach] Frank [Reich], our draft position, having Andrew back and having a smart, young GM in Chris [Ballard],” Ward said.
The Colts have the third pick in the draft and $72.8 million of salary cap space available, third-most behind only the New York Jets ($90.9 million) and Cleveland Browns ($83.9 million). Reich, the offensive coordinator for the Super Bowl-winning Philadelphia Eagles, signed on as the Colts' head coach in February.
During the Peyton Manning era, season-ticket renewal rates for the Colts typically were higher than 90 percent every year. It dipped six percentage points to a decade low of 87 percent in the 2012 season, after the team went 2-14 and released Manning. Percentages rebounded above 90 percent in the early years of the Andrew Luck era.
The league-wide average percentage for season-ticket renewals was about 90 percent for the 2017 season, according NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. That tracked with other recent years: for example, 90.6 percent of season-ticket holders renewed their packages in 2012, surpassing 2011's final renewal rate of 89.3 percent.
Anecdotally, the Minnesota Vikings say they are expecting a 95 percent renewal rate for the 2018 season, despite a 7 percent price hike. The team, which plays in a new stadium that debuted last year, finished the 2017 regular season with 14-2 record.
This is the second consecutive year the Colts have experienced a decrease in the team's season-ticket renewal rate. But given what shakes out in the next few months, maybe the team can reverse the downward trend.
“It’s incumbent upon us to give our fans a reason to be there,” Ward said.
A new high-end viewing area for Indy 500 race fans will be available in May outside Turn 3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, due to increased demand for premium seating for the race, IMS officials announced Wednesday.
The new Turn 3 Club will have capacity for 500 spectators, although the area potentially could be expanded. Suites are sold out for the race, while limited availability remains in the upscale Hulman Terrace Club.
“The Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil continues in its second century to show its strength as the world’s greatest spectator sporting event,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said in a prepared statement. “Adding the Turn 3 Club as a new way to experience the Indy 500 gives another option for our fans who want that traditional race experience with more than just a grandstand seat.”
Tickets to the Turn 3 Club are $750 each. Existing ticketholders can upgrade to the area for $700 each.
A Turn 3 Club seat provides:
• views of the track from an elevated location;
• pairing with a reserved seat in the north vista for each customer;
• all-inclusive food, beer and wine, with liquor available for purchase;
• tented deck area with tables and limited seating;
• parking passes in the North 40 lot;
• souvenir event program for each customer;
• dedicated restroom facilities;
• live TV and audio feeds
Fans can email [email protected] to discuss purchase options in either the Turn 3 Club or Hulman Terrace Club.