Indians need to don rally caps to keep status as league attendance leader

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The Indianapolis Indians will need to don their rally caps if they want to reign again atop Minor League Baseball attendance list.

Right now, the Indians' 8,245-person average attendance places them at No. 3 for the International League's 14 AAA affiliates of Major League Baseball teams. With 49 home dates in the books, 404,011 total visitors have visited Victory Field so far.

The Indians led the International League in average attendance last year with 9,159 fans per game. The tribe also topped the league in total attendance, with 641,141 fans for the season.

The team’s per-game attendance this season lags behind the No. 2-ranked Columbus Clippers, who have racked up an 8,397 average after 47 home games. The Charlotte Knights lead the International League with 8,898 fans per game over 49 contests.

General Manager Randy Lewandowski called this pace "typical" for the Indians.

"We've got a larger ballpark … and will be able to bring in around 13,000 to 14,000 people this weekend and make some ground," he said in a phone call. "We're bullish.”

The Indians have 21 home games left on the schedule. The regular season ends on Sept. 3. After a loss on Tuesday, the team has a 52-47 record and is a half-game behind the Toledo Mud Hens in the International League West division.

Victory Field has sold out three times this season, Lewandowski added. Crowd-drawing staples include the Indians' July 4 game and themed superhero nights, which feature characters from the Marvel and DC comics universes.

Lewandowski said if there's any setback to blame for the team’s No. 3-ranked average attendance so far this season, it would be the cold, rainy April that flooded the state for weeks.

"It was a hole we had to dig ourselves out of … and something other teams don't have to deal with," he said. "But this is the time of year we shine."

Victory Field has seating for about 12,200 fans, and another 2,000 on the lawn.

In the offseason, the Capital Improvement Board, the entity that owns and operates Victory Field, spent $2 million to renovate 24 of the stadium's 29 suites as part of an ongoing $6 million stadium upgrade.

The majority of the stadium's suites—23 of 29—are reserved on a season basis, where guests will use them across multiple games. The rest are sold for single-game uses.

Lewandowski said that since the renovation single-game reservation sales are up between 4 and 5 percent.

The updated suites come outfitted with larger serving spaces, two large-screen televisions, mobile charging stations, and a sleeker design colored by the Indians' signature black, green and red, the IBJ reported in April.

"Our suite level has always been huge, but sponsors and fans seem delighted with the renovations," Lewandowski said.

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