Indians On Pace For Worst Attendance Totals Since 1992

The Cleveland Indians are officially on pace to have the worst home attendance totals since the 1992 season.

With 59 home games in the books, the Indians have drawn 1,051,837 fans – a number which has been boosted as of late thanks to back-to-back (rockin!) firework nights and the induction of former center fielder Kenny Lofton into the team’s Hall of Fame.  While these events have been beneficial for walk-up sales and all-around fan morale, every other non-event game since opening day has been sparsly attended at best, compounding the term “non-event.”

Using the pace which has been set thus far, the team will draw approximately 1.43 million fans for the entire 2010 season.  For comparison purposes, the team drew almost twice this number as recent as 2002 when attendance totals were north of 2.6 million fans.  Coincidentally, 2002 was the last year that the Indians were above the American Leauge average – a number that typically flucutates around 2.4 million.

If these figures hold up through the duration of the regular season, it would provide the team with a 23-percent decline year-over-year as the 2009 season provided the Indians front office with 1.76 million fans.  It was also the 2009 season where team owner Larry Dolan claimed that they had lost $16 million, forcing them to cut ties with players like Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez.  Despite another bout of cost-cutting trades this past summer, it is safe to assume that the financial situation would be similar, if not worse, for the 2010 season.

In 1992, at the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium, the Indians drew 1.22 million fans – not counting the 81 appearances by the Marlboro Man out in deep center field.  While the team would win 76 games that season, it was one year removed from a 105-loss season after Hargrove took over following John McNamara being relieved of his duties.

Currently, the Indians are on pace to win 66 games for the 2010 season, one game better than last season’s 65-win mark.

Image ourtesy of Couting Baseballs

  • Brett

    cheap owner, cheap fans

  • http://twitter.com/mikeammo Ammo

    Bottom line = poor product equals no customers.

    Sure, you’ll have your loyalists, see: how many people bought domestic cars in the 80’s through the 1st part of this decade. But that number of loyalists will dwindle over time as the quality of the product suffers…which is why Ford was on the brink of bankruptcy and GM and Chrysler did go bankrupt.

    Now, Ford has turned it around, is selling very well and is profitable. Why? QUALITY PRODUCT.

    It’s the same thing in sports. The Indians blow and the fans have zero faith in ownership. The ownership has come out and blamed the fans for not showing up…what the hell kind of approach is that? Sports fans have the ultimate customer loyalty, but the Dolans continue to stomp on it.

    They’re not only cheap, they’re clueless.

  • MrCleaveland

    If the fans don’t want to come out, you can’t stop ‘em.

    –Yogi

  • The Conductor

    Cliff Lee trade was like pouring gas on Dolan’s face. The Victor trade was like lighting a match.

    After having a season ticket package last year, I personally gave $0 to the Cleveland Indians this year. I got free tickets to two games, but bought nothing inside the park. I see no reason to change my ways. Dolan needs to find a new business.

  • Mike

    Fans don’t go to games to see bad product. The Indians have been a very bad product for three years. The fact that Dolan blames the fans for their losses, rather than looking at the decisions of the organization and the front office, is exactly the wrong approach.

  • http://www.redright88.com Titus Pullo

    Oof, you know attendance is bad but it doesn’t really hit home until you see the numbers in black and white.

    Percentage wise, the Dolans are spending as much of their revenue on payroll as other teams, they just don’t have as much revenue. Unless they can figure out a way to bring in more money, this is just going to continue to feed on itself.

    But I don’t know where the extra revenue is going to come from, especially in the NE Ohio market.

  • Alex

    I know of a few ppl who canceled their season tickets this season for poor on field product, and i cant blame them one bit. I havent been to jacobs field in over 2 years, i would love to go back, but i cant bring myself to spend any money there. Not with these owners and the farm team on the field. The Indians are a class-AAAA team with a major league park…

  • http://blog.clevelandsportstorture.com/ doug1121

    Fans recognize an a$$-backwards business model and they’re sick of seeing the Dolans w/ their pockets turned out, their palms turned up, and a “Whatta ya gonna do?” expression on their faces. People won’t blindly support a product that has virtually no sense of direction other than hope for the best and trade off your best players when things get tough. The cynicism fans have for this team is astronomical–people are already wondering when ownership will trade Santana. It’s no wonder nobody’s showing up to games.

  • CLESportsFan

    It’s sad to see such a beautiful park so empty. I still love the game of baseball so I still go to games, but boy is it hard to find people to go with ! LOL!

    And I completely understand people not going.

    Money is tight for everyone so why waste your entertainment budget on something that has the potential to be far from entertaining?

  • Scott

    Well… Looks like Mr. Dolan has taken a page out of Rachel Phelps’ handbook. Fortunately though, we were able to stay above the minimum 800k fans for the season.
    That said, this team is clearly built for being able support a cheap owner for years to come. The payroll has to be at, or near the bottom of all of baseball coming in to 2011. I don’t get what Mr. Dolan gets out of owning the team. 90% of the city has to hate what he’s done (thus hating him) and the team is just never going to amount to anything more than “potential.” I lived through the sullen years of the 80s and early 90’s and it sucked. Is there ANY way Cleveland fans can unite to get this guy to sell the team to an actual baseball fan?
    And no, this is not an opportunity for people to come out and tell me how good things are and how good this team will be in 2-3 years. I’ve heard that argument a thousand times. Yeah, I know there is SOME talent. But that doesn’t mean crap. Hey management, let’s pull our collective heads out of our asses and figure it out. It all starts at the top: PLEASE STOP GETTING RID OF YOUR BEST EMPLOYEES!
    Ok, I’m done venting…

  • Craig

    Anyone who says no one shows up because the team is horrible should tell me where the fans were in ’07. They were near the bottom of the barrel in attendence that year too, despite a 90+ win season. Although the Tribe shouldn’t have to fight so hard for the dollars against the Cavs next year…

  • MattyFos

    Dollar Beer night, every night, will bump ticket sales!!!

  • MP34

    Just curious Scott, do you know what the attendance numbers were like for the 2007 and 2008 campaigns?

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    We refuse to buy tickets to mediocre products.

    /looks at last 15 years’ worth of Browns season tickets enshrined in shadow box
    //thinks about irony
    ///nods head anyways

  • Alex

    I would love to see Mark Cuban own the team. The dolans are clearly horrible owners considering how crappy the tribe is, and just look at the dysfunction around the knicks organization. Theyre a joke

  • Craig
  • chuck r.

    Laying an egg @ KC these past couple of nights is not helping ticket sales either!

  • CLEFAN4LIFE

    My family had season tickets either with a group or solely since 1987. This is the first year we said enough is enough. Indians baseball is a passion for our family, but Victor being traded was the final straw. I will listen to Tom on the radio, but I won’t spend a dime at that park until the Dolan’s are out. I won’t buy $4 waters or $12 subway sandwhiches. I won’t pay for seats that have a view of advertisements on every square inch of the park, including the outfield wall. I’m tired of the apologists making excuses about our market size because they apparently slept through the 90’s. Since the Dolans bought the team we have had awful drafts, awful signings and mediocre trades. The Dolans blamed the fans for their mismanagement, which was an insult. Their marketing plan is to keep payroll as low as possible while promising a brighter future. I’m done with this decade of up and coming stars who get traded away once they are. The Dolans are clueless and anyone making excuses for them can be titled the same.

  • Luca

    Living in NY I don’t get the opportunity not to buy tickets to see the Tribe. Instead I express my disgust by refusing to buy the MLB Extra Innings package on cable (to which I have subscribed since it started). The increasing drumbeat by many bloggers about the talent coming along simply isn’t credible. There are no Belles, Ramirezes, Thomes, Baergas, Sexsons, Gileses, etc. coming along who can anchor the middle of the lineup. And while there is quantity in the pitching ranks there is very little quality. This, of course, is a direct consequence of the horrible drafts and the inability of Shapiro to get real value for Sabathia, Lee, Victor, etc. Bottom line–where is the hope?

  • http://www.redright88.com Titus Pullo

    According to a study in Forbes, the Indians spent 53.5 percent of their revenue on payroll in 2009. The Yankees spent 54 percent. The difference is the Yankees had $440 million in revenue while the Indians had $170 million.

    How will a new owner generate additional revenue to close that gap? Unless you’re willing to believe a new owner would dip into their own pockets to pour money into the team, what would a change in ownership accomplish?

    People like to beat the drum that the Dolans are “cheap,” but the numbers just don’t back it up. If they had more revenue then the payroll would increase.

    The question is, where is that new revenue going to come from?

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com DP

    The irony of the “Larry Dolan is CHEAP!” argument is that he might not be in such a rough position if he hadn’t WILDLY OVERPAID for the franchise ($323 MM) between the 1999 and 2000 seasons. Think it’s worth anywhere near that now?

    You could say that Dolan overspent at the outset, and has been trying to recoup the steadily mounting losses since then.

    Smart Businessman Dick Jacobs wrote the book on “selling high” in that deal.

  • CLEFAN4LIFE

    Shakes his head @ Titus. You simply don’t get it. First an foremost, maybe it’s time to look up the definition of revenue. Dipping into your own pockets is not creating new revenue. Secondly, a good business owner always looks at the situation and says, “how can I generate more revenue and more profit.” Never have I heard a successful business owner say, “There’s just no way to generate more revenue. I guess we’ll just stay the course.” Those businesses always fail as the Indians and it’s ownership are demonstrating.

  • Tommy

    @18

    The irony of you calling others clueless is amazing. Incompetence in drafts, signings and trades has nothing to do with the Dolans, (Not to mention being partially inaccurate).

    If you thought the 1990’s was always going to continue, than you and the Dolans have a lot more in common than you think.

    I’m not going to the defend the Dolans as businessmen, but the ignorance and laziness on the part of most Tribe fans on this topic is ridiculous.

  • Paul

    There are numerous other cities that would LOVE to take the tribe off of your hands, so by all means, don’t show up.

  • Luca

    I don’t think we’d be as tough on the Dolans if they hadn’t consistenly said that they won’t add to payroll until the attendance picks up. This has never worked for Cleveland baseball. The fans here will not support losing baseball like they do on the North Side of Chicago. An owner is simply going to have to spend beyond his means at first in order to put a winning team on the field. I understand that the attendance didn’t regain 90’s levels when the team played well in ’05 and ’07 but it was certainly on an upward trend.

    The only alternative for our market is to be insanely good at drafting and trading for prospects and being patient enough to wait for the results. That hasn’t worked in recent years, though, and the prospects of the current rebuild are by no means assured.

  • Bridgecrosser

    This is the 3rd year of the past 30 I haven’t gone to a Tribe game. The other 2 I lived in California.

  • http://www.redright88.com Titus Pullo

    OK, Clefan4life, since you have all the answers:

    How will a new owner generate additional revenue? Where is this secret pot of gold that the Dolans can’t find?

    I never said spending your own money as an owner is revenue. What I said was a change in ownership would not magically mean new revenue.

    So, please, enlighten us.

    Certainly the current situation is not working, but the hoopleheads who think that the Indians will somehow transform into a winner if the Dolans sell the team are not grasping reality.

  • MP34

    @ Craig, thanks for the links.

  • Karsten

    Welp, attendance won’t fall below 800,000 for the year, so at least the team’s not moving to Miami!

  • CLEFAN4LIFE

    Incompetence in drafts, signings and trades has nothing to do with the Dolans, (Not to mention being partially inaccurate).

    So you don’t think a business owner has control of his business from top to bottom? Does he not employ those who scout, draft and develop these players? If I’m wrong, then point me in the right direction to do some reading.

  • Tommy

    @30

    Of those 3 things, drafting was the only long term problem that I’ve seen during the Dolan regime. As such, our amateur scouting director was replaced before the 2008 draft with Brad Grant. Since then, our drafts have improved tremendously and currently supply us with most of our exciting young talent in the minors like Chisenhall,White and Kipnis, who will probably be our top 3 prospects going into next year. This doesn’t even mention this years draft which I think by almost all accounts was a huge success.

    If you want to point to signings and trades being a consistent problem, than go ahead, but I’m very confident that for every bad trade/FA you would point to, I could counter with a good one and probably more.

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