Amid uncertainty, Colts sell fewer season tickets

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Uncertainty surrounding the Indianapolis Colts is evident in the large number of season-ticket holders who chose not to renew their seats for the upcoming season.

Just 82 percent renewed their tickets compared with 87 percent last year, said Pete Ward, the team’s chief operating officer. That equates to 3,000 fewer season tickets sold.

“It’s honestly better than many of us expected, after going 4-12,” he said. “The last three years have been frustrating years, and our fans are accustomed to winning.”

The 82-percent renewal rate means the Colts have more than 12,000 tickets to sell for each of their 10 home games, including two preseason games, at 67,000-seat Lucas Oil Stadium. That is a total of more than 120,000 tickets, which would carry a value of at least $7 million.

For more than a decade during Peyton Manning’s playing days, the Colts had season ticker renewals well above 90 percent, only dipping to 87 percent following the 2011 season—the season Manning was out with an injured neck. But after Coach Chuck Pagano jump started the Colts to an 11-5 season record in 2012, season ticket renewals jumped to about 95 percent.

Of course the big question mark surrounding the Colts is the status of franchise quarterback Andrew Luck and whether he’ll be healthy enough to play this season. Colts brass expect he will be.

The No. 1 overall pick in 2012, Luck missed all of last season after having surgery for a partially torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. Without him, the Colts endured their first losing season since 2011 and missed the playoffs for the third straight year.

Interestingly, the team’s poor on-field play isn’t the only reason keeping some season-ticket holders from renewing. Players kneeling in protest during the national anthem is a factor, Ward said.

Numerous holders have told Colts officials that’s why they’ve chosen to return their tickets.

“I’m unable to quantify a number,” Ward said, “but it is a factor to some extent in our renewals.”

On a brighter note, the number of seats sold to new season-ticket holders (not renewals) stands at 1,330, nearly double the 700 sold for last season, Ward said.

“That’s a good sign,” he said. “The feedback we’re getting from our fans is that they have optimism. It’s a young team with a lot of upside.”

Still, the Colts are now saddled with unloading unsold season tickets. The first priority is allowing other season-ticket holders to upgrade their seats. Remaining tickets are marketed to large groups and companies. Then, in July, leftovers will go on sale to the general public as single-game tickets.

“There’s no getting around it,” Ward said, “we have a lot of tickets to sell.”

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