August 15, 2014

The NBA’s marketing machine is fantastic … While We’re Waiting

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“When’s the schedule coming out?” This was a text I received every few days since LeBron’s return to the Cavaliers. For weeks and weeks, many have been on edge. No official announcement came at first – the NBA had been said to want to delay the release to closer to mid-August.

Finally, there was news. The schedule was set to be released at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 13 on NBA TV. The NBA’s marketing was brilliant. They had kept the free agency circuit on edge just enough to then kickstart an entirely new news cycle with the schedule reactions on their own network. [Read more...]

Video: Listen to Tom Hamilton discuss the history of and changes occurring at Progressive Field

By now, you’ve seen updates and renderings of the changes happening at Progressive Field. Fewer seats, more social areas, more ties to downtown neighborhoods and a two-story, indoor-outdoor bar. But have you heard Tom Hamilton discuss them?

Now you have.

Cleveland Indians unveil new ballpark amenities (with artist renderings)

The Cleveland Indians announced today that they’ll be doing massive renovations to Progressive Field. Scott was on-hand for the announcements.

And also, for those who are upset about the Thome statue…

Here are the artist renderings.

The view of the right field seats is going to be dramatically different. Gone are the usually-empty upper decks for new facilities like an expanded kids club and a two-story bar. Additionally, the Tribe is moving the visiting bullpen.

Tribe New Right Field


Tribe New Bullpens


The new concourse in right field will try to pull in the character of the city by drawing inspiration from local neighborhoods like Ohio City and Tremont. Tribe New concourse

Similar to what the Browns did, it appears the Indians are making great efforts to improve entry to the ballpark for nights when there are larger crowds. Tribe New Gate C

And remember when there were complaints about the center field bar? Now the Indians will have a two-story bar for younger (legal drinking age) fans to congregate and party at the park.

Tribe New in-park BarWhat do you think?


Indians plan to renovate Progressive Field over next two years

indians stadiumThe Cleveland Indians are planning an “extensive renovation” of Progressive Field over the next two years, reported Tom Withers of the Associated Press on Wednesday evening. The plans are set to be unveiled during a press conference today.

Among the highlights: “interior and exterior modifications to the area stretching from center to right field” and a “modest reduction in seats.” In return, the team would then create more social areas for fans to congregate and mingle.

The first phase of changes, expected to be completed by the start of the 2015 season, will be privately financed. Future improvements could use a portion of the team’s proceeds from the May-approved Sin Tax.

The 43,000-seat Progressive Field is celebrating its 20th birthday this season. Eighteen new MLB stadiums have debuted since the opening of the parks in Cleveland and Arlington, Texas, in 1994.

One of the older stadiums, Kansas City’s 1962 Kaufman Stadium that hosted the 2012 All-Star Game, actually underwent major renovations from 2007-10. And one of those newer stadiums, Atlanta’s 1996 Turner Field, is actually set to be replaced by the 2017 season.

Last week, Crain’s Cleveland’s Kevin Kleps wrote about the team’s efforts to use analytics to study its attendance. The team is averaging an announced crowd of only 18,327 this season, second-worst in baseball only ahead of Tampa Bay.

The team’s top two attended games this season were Opening Day on April 4 (41,274) and the Omar Vizquel Hall of Fame induction on June 21 (40,712). In only two of the other 55 home games has the team surpassed even 30,000 paying fans. So certainly, reducing seats does not appear to be much of a concern.

None of the attendance issues should be news at all, either. The franchise’s average attendance dropped quickly from over 39,000 in 2001 to under 22,000 in 2003. According to past research from Crain’s Cleveland, season-ticket sales dropped from 15,000 in 2008 to only 8,000 in 2010.

[Related from August 2013: Why we shouldn’t be surprised by the Indians attendance]

Photo: WFNY, Jacob Rosen

Are there more Cleveland Indians statues in the works?

Jim Thome Statue

Are Bob Feller and Jim Thome about to have some company? It appears that the Cleveland Indians have some plans that may include a few more supersized bronze ghosts throughout the confines of Progressive Field.

Since the plans were put in place in 2011 for the tater-mashing Thome to get a statue beyond center field, many fans have been wondering where the praise is for others to have donned the Tribe jersey. Larry Doby—he of the retired number, the shattering of the color barrier and, you know, an actual championship—tops many lists. Lou Boudreau and others follow closely behind. The debates and discussions have not always to discredit what Thome accomplished, but to also acknowledge the work (on and off of the field) of many before him. Despite the fan fare directed to a certain era, there were in fact players to wear Cleveland jerseys before the mid-90s.

If team president Mark Shapiro’s tweet is any indication, it appears the team is listening.

The whole multiple statues thing is far from trailblazing; the Indians are one of just a few teams to have had (prior to Saturday) just one player commemorated in statue form. Statues of Pirates’ Hall of Famers Honus Wagner, Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Bill Mazeroski are positioned at various points outside of PNC Park in Pittsburgh; Ty Cobb, Hal Newhouser, Charlie Gehringer, Hank Greenberg, Al Kaline, Willie Horton, and Ernie Harwell can be found outside of Comerica Park in Detroit. There’s also “Teammates,” the four-man statue outside of Fenway Park that commemorates Ted Williams, Bobby Doer, Johnny Pesky and Dom DiMaggio.

What the Indians have planned, remains to be seen, but there may be a lot more bronze in Cleveland within the next few summers. And that won’t necessarily be a bad thing.

[Related: The statue that is and maybe shouldn't be]

(Thomas Ondrey/The Plain Dealer)

Indians implementing analytics to study attendance issues

Indians Opener Baseball

The Cleveland Indians were in the postseason a year ago and are seeing attendance numbers continue to fall on a year-over-year basis. Despite two bouts of October baseball in the last seven seasons, they’re certain to finish outside baseball’s top 20 in attendance for the 12th consecutive year. Alas, the team is taking their use of advanced analytics and implementing a formula-based look into what moves the needle in the way of bodies through the turnstiles and how to best serve those who make it down to Progressive Field.

The formula takes historical data into account and weaves in such critical factors as the weather forecast, opponent, team performance, night of the week and time of year.

It doesn’t get fans through the gates, but it does give the Indians a much better idea of how to best serve their audience. [...] What the Indians are seeking are optimal methods of catering to their fans, whether it’s the 9,029 who showed up for an April 8 matchup against the San Diego Padres or the 40,712 in attendance when Omar Vizquel was inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame on June 21.

As we have covered here many times at WFNY, dynamic pricing and the team’s urging to “Buy Early and Save” was born with similar goals in mind. Nevertheless, the majority of tickets continue to be purchased in the 48 hours leading up to games. Per Crain’s Cleveland, thanks to the formulas being utilized, the Indians now have a “much more concrete idea” of which games are most likely to produce last-minute buying sprees, and which ones will be a more intimate gathering in which the staff size should be reduced and less food needs to be ordered. Crain’s also reports that the team’s season-ticket base stands at roughly 8,000, well behind the average base in Major League Baseball. Since their playoff run in 2007 where they averaged over 28,000 fans per night, the team has trended downward to it’s current level of 18,402.

To little surprise, events like “Dollar Dog Night” and the firework displays drive demand—Friday and Saturdays continue to be the nights with the highest average attendance. Of course, plenty of factors impact the team’s ability to take advantage of such, including the schedule: the team will play nine Friday night games on the road this summer, and five of their eight Friday contests since June have been away from Progressive Field.

The team hopes that the use of analytics will better prepare them for 2015 where they continue to strive toward improving the fan experience.

[Related: Why we shouldn't be surprised about the Indians attendance]

(AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

High Pressure, Home Cooking


This is not an article about attendance at Indians games. Not really, anyway.

Much has been made about attendance in Cleveland the past few years. A franchise that retired No.455 for THE FANS has cobwebs on its turnstiles. As an alleged “Tribe Town” began regularly pulling in less than 10,000 patrons per game, blame was allocated between the 25 men in uniform and the handful in polos and pleated pants. But what happens when the grandstands are bubbling over with the rabid throng?

[Read more...]

Indians and Verizon partner to roll out new wireless and Wi-Fi network


Say what you want about the product on the field over the last week or so, but the Cleveland Indians are undoubtedly listening to their fans. In an effort to better connect with fans at Progressive Field, the team, in partnership with Verizon Wireless, has announced a roll-out of what their referring to as new Distributed Antenna System (DAS) and Wi-Fi network.

 These updates aim to offer fans more reliable access to social media applications while allowing them to check in on ever-growing At The Ballpark app while within the confines Progressive Field.

It was just a season ago when the entire city of Cleveland was essentially blacked out in the way of cell signal when 41,000 fans (plus those who were simply downtown) attempted to utilize their mobile devices. As tweets and image uploads on a variety of networks become a larger part of the in-game experience, the Indians obviously saw this free marketing as an opportunity worth addressing.

“This implementation will significantly enhance fans’ digital experience at the ballpark by making social media and their favorite apps more easily accessible, as well as completing common functions like making a call or sending an email or text,” said Neil Weiss, the Indians Senior Vice President of Technology and Chief Information Officer via press release. At the Ballpark personalizes fans’ trips with mobile check-in, social media, offers, rewards and exclusive content. It comes complete with concourse maps, food and drink menus, player entrance music info (with the ability to purchase songs on iTunes), and seat upgrade functionality. The Indians plan to offer exclusive deals to those who utilize the application. Getcha smartphones ready.

[Related: Indians (once again) among best values in MLB]

Ever wonder how much it costs to propose at Progressive Field?

Ever wondered how to go about proposing to a loved one within the confines of a sporting event? Ever wonder how much it costs to go about such an endeavor? Well, the kind folks at Swimmingly charted out the costs and details of all 30 Major League Baseball teams and it turns out that our beloved Cleveland Indians are among the most expensive in the league.

In the event you want to drop to a knee at Progressive Field, the only time you can do it (apparently) are during one of the team’s 15 post-game firework nights (a romantic option, per Swimmingly) as no in-game proposals are allowed. While this appears to be a change for the Tribe given all of the jumbotron jubilation of years past, these restrictions are at least more lenient than the Blue Jays, Angels, Royals, Orioles and Mets—all teams which do not allow promoted in-game proposals of any kind.

Some teams offer multiple price points, lest anyone need to place a value on their impending proposal. Some teams offer multiple tickets; others offer tours. In Detroit, you can do it alongside “Paws,” the Tigers’ mascot. All proceeds allegedly go to charity.

The Top Five Tribe Rotations of the Past 20 Years

cliff cc

With the 20-year anniversary of Jacobs/Progressive Field almost upon us, we will be taking a look at top-fives in each aspect of the Indians on the field.  We started last week with the bullpens and today we will move to the starting rotations. Coming up with five groups was not an easy task. Let’s be honest here: The Indians have for the most part, been built around their offense and bullpen. That was the John Hart model. Hart’s protégé was Mark Shapiro, who took over the GM reigns during the transition of 2001. Shappy groomed current GM Chris Antonetti, but the landscape has changed over the past six years. When the Indians had their best success, it was because their starting pitching was at its strongest.

And with that….. [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Thoughts on the state of the Cavs

While We’re Waiting is a space on the WaitingForNextYear website where we share links every day. We’ve been doing it for about four years or so. Denny Mayo used to be much more amusing with his intros, if you recall. You know the drill: Email us with suggestions at

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What are the Cavs right now? Who is their core? Looking deep inside their system: “So far this season, despite a near abuse of the words ‘culture’ and ‘process’ in Mike Brown’s renewed jog with the team, the Cavs seem more like a DeMarcus Cousins Kings team than a culture team. Right now, their identity is a cult of personality… and that personality is the Rubix Cube that is Andrew Bynum.” [Robert Attenweiler/Cavs: The Blog] [Read more...]

Tuesday’s best tweets about the Indians AL Wild Card game

With the Indians hosting the Tampa Bay Rays tonight at Progressive Field, I thought it was worthwhile to parse through all of the best pictures on Twitter on Tuesday to share with you on the site. Here, without further bantering, are my favorite 13 best tweets (almost all pictures) from all separate accounts during the day on Tuesday, all about prepping for today’s big AL Wild Card showdown.

This should be a nice bonus! Don’t forget about these, tweeps. [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Fantasy football in NFL stadiums?

While We’re Waiting is a space on the WaitingForNextYear website where we share links every day. We’ve been doing it for about four years or so. Denny Mayo used to be much more amusing with his intros, if you recall. You know the drill: Email us with suggestions at

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Would the Browns ever try out an area like this? Do they need to? “Inside EverBank Field, during the second half of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ lopsided loss to the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday, Carlos Boria finally found a reason to cheer. ‘Yeah, baby,’ he screamed as tight end Jimmy Graham scored a touchdown. But Graham is not a member of the Jaguars. He was playing for the Saints, about 500 miles away, at the Superdome in New Orleans. Boria’s cheer was part of the cacophony in the new 7,000-square-foot fantasy football lounge at the Jaguars’ stadium, where fans were primarily following not the game they had bought tickets to attend, but those in other N.F.L. cities involving players on their fantasy teams.” [Ken Belson/New York Times] [Read more...]

Why we shouldn’t be surprised by the Indians attendance

progressive field

No matter what, it’s disappointing.

That’s a fair statement for any diehard fan of a competing team like the 2013 Cleveland Indians.

You see, these Indians aren’t like the contending teams of the ‘90s for one obvious, over-reported and obnoxious fact: Attendance. This season, through Thursday’s games, Cleveland ranked 28th in the sport with an average number of 19,037 paid fans per opening.

Obviously, this is a deep and exciting baseball team peaking at the right moment and in the thick in the American League playoff race. Heck, they just swept an entire weeklong home stand.

Yet in digging through historical Cleveland Indians attendance and using it side-by-side with existing research on Major League Baseball attendance, this season’s disappointing fan support really shouldn’t be all that shocking.

[Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Cleveland’s continued development

While We’re Waiting is the daily morning link roundup that WFNY has been serving up for breakfast for the last several years. We hope you enjoy the following recent collection of yummy and nutritious Cleveland sports-related articles. Anything else to add? Email us at

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Stories on Cleveland’s revitalization are all the rage on the Internet right now. Next up: The Atlantic Cities, my friend Anna’s favorite site in the world: “The success of East Fourth Street in once-struggling Cleveland was something few people would have anticipated 20 years ago. It took years of collaboration between developers, businesses, local institutions, and government, but today downtown Cleveland is taking off—and giving the old Rust Belt city a future. There wasn’t a market for urban living in Cleveland until developers like the Marons built places where young professionals would want to be.” [Sophie Quinton/The Atlantic Cities] [Read more...]

Indians to unveil new “Teen Suite” at Progressive Field

Indians Teen Suite

The Cleveland Indians will lift the curtain on a new “Teen Suite” at Progressive Field this weekend when the Tribe hosts the Minnesota Twins.

Touted as being “perfect” for birthdays, graduation parties and other special celebrations, the Teen Suite features both indoor and outdoor seating options, in addition to a lounge area with video games and an all-you-can-eat buffet. Those who reserve the Teen Suite will also receive tickets for four club seats for parents and/or chaperones of the group in the Suite.

This new suite is the latest of many group-based ammentities at Progressive Field which now include the Indians Social Suite, the Family Social Suite, the exclusive FanCave Suite, and the recently redesigned 120-seat Collection Auto Group Club.  Six rows of seats in section 151, behind home plate, have also been taken out and have been replaced with tables and chairs for 36 people.

The Teen Suite will be available every Friday and Saturday night starting in May, and could be made available for other select dates as well. It is located in right field, adjacent from the Family Suite.

[Related: Tribe Pen Living Up To Billing]


The Diff: Baseball attendance in April, sellout streaks

Last week’s version of The Diff was tremendous fun as we journeyed through the land of quality starts in baseball. With the Indians’ back-and-forth 5-7 start to the season, that post likely remains incredibly relevant. Now, we stick with the same sport but head to something more external: April attendance.

The Diff

Attendance is always a topical theme in the world of baseball at the beginning of the season. Once the facade of a boisterous Opening Day sellout is lifted, columnists and fans peel back the harsh reality of battling the frigid cold for half-decent attendance figures at the ballpark. Heck, in a sense, that’s exactly why I dedicated The Diff back on Feb. 27 to the topic of Indians attendance (and market saturation). I saw this complaint coming early in 2013. But yet, there’s still a need for much more context in this debate. And that’s why I’m back for more attendance talk today. [Read more...]

The Diff: Market saturation and Indians attendance

In last week’s edition of The Diff, I shared a number of statistical notes about the streaking Cleveland Cavaliers. This week, I’m covering a topic I’ve been trying to get to for a while, but is perfect for right now: Cleveland Indians attendance.

The Diff

Cleveland Indians attendance is a topical news item this week. Firing right off the Nick Swisher arrival and the surprise signing of Michael Bourn, the Indians unveiled their new promotional schedule and then sold out of Opening Day tickets in six minutes on Monday. Excitement about the Tribe is as palpable this February as it’s been in the last decade — save maybe for right after ’07′s surprising playoff run. And that brings people to the age-old question: Will it show up in the ticket booths? Fortunately, I’m here to help — as I teased in Monday’s podcast. [Read more...]

Cleveland Indians to roll out “Premium Club” at Progressive Field

On Sunday, it was the Cleveland Browns who borrowed a page from Dan Gilbert and the Cavaliers. Come this April, the Cleveland Indians will be doing the same as they will raise the curtain on what will be called the “Premium Club,” a 120-seat area of the stadium located along the first base line that will feature the most exclusive of ballpark amenities.

A step up from the current club area located along the mezzanine, the Progressive Field Premium Club will feature 5,000 square feet of gourmet food, top shelf alcohol, 20 high-definition televisions, leather high-backed seating for season-ticket holders, and surroundings which have been deemed private and climate-controlled. Also differing from the current “club” level is that those in attendance will have the option to have open-air viewing of the playing field from their table side seating; the mezzanine club is tucked behind the sections of seats, leaving only television viewing as an option.

“We are excited to open this new, exclusive space for the 2013 season,” said team president Mark Shapiro. “It will allow us to better serve the segment of our fan base that research clearly determined desires a more premium experience. The new club features amenities and exclusive benefits that will give our fans a truly premium experience at Progressive Field.”

Attendees will also be granted access to SportsTime Ohio’s pre- and post-game shows, including a live filming of Bruce Drennan’s “All Bets Are Off.” Crains Cleveland reports that tickets will cost $150 per game. The Premium Club is one of the many projects financed by the team that will help improve the 18-year-old Progressive Field. While total cost is not reported, it is estimated that this was a multi-million dollar venture. It is believed that this new Club will provide a similar exclusive experience similar to the Patron Platinum Lounge and Suites located within Quicken Loans Arena which features various types of seating and tables, a full length-of-the-lounge granite-top bar, an array of specialty lighting fixtures, an assortment of large wall-mounted plasma televisions, and a full glass wall facing the arena bowl entry way.

“We understand that a large percentage of our business is based on the team,” said Shapiro, “but of that other small percentage, we have to be 100 percent perfect. The good thing is that we have complet control over that side of things, where things happen on the field that we don’t have control over.”

[Related: Prospect ranking turnover shows that Indians might still be bad at drafting]

Indians working on “Premium Club” seating

The Cleveland Indians, regardless of their on-field performance, continually work to innovate with the stadium to try and create the best possible atmosphere for fans to enjoy a game. It is almost impossible to be positive about the team right now, but with no snark what-so-ever I have to be honest when I say that it is still an enjoyable ballpark experience at the Jake.

The Indians turned their club section into an all-you-can-eat section a few years ago. Now they’re exploring another kind of section between Club and Suite levels of experience.

As part of our continuing efforts to preserve and enhance Progressive Field for our fans, we are researching a new type of seating area, called the ‘Premium Club’, which combines the best elements of both the Club Seats and Suites. The Premium Club will be located on the Suite Level and offer a fantastic entertaining lounge that celebrates the team’s history and provides you an exclusive experience.

The team is currently showing concepts to season ticket holders during games, presumably to gauge interest and feedback.