This week, the Indians closed up shop on another edition of Snow Days, their yearly winter wonderland setup inside the hallowed walls of Progressive Field. Sure, it might seem a little cheesy or stupid depending on how you feel about ice skating, tubing, and snowball fights, but Snow Days signifies something else that people seem to be overlooking. (By the way, if you think ice skating, tubing and snow ball fights are stupid, then we can’t be friends.)
What some people fail to realize is that Snow Days is more than just holiday family fun: it’s the Indians’ attempt to combat the stigma of being a small market team in a large market world.
Like most teams in similar markets, the Indians struggle to draw large attendance figures on a consistent basis. There are quite a few reasons for this: the economy, ticket prices, and the invention of HD TV, to name a few. So the Indians can’t sit idly by and wait for the fans to return to Progressive Field on a consistent basis the way they did in the mid-90′s. Those days are gone, and the team has found itself trapped in a “chicken or the egg” type of problem: fans won’t show up until the Indians win, but they can’t afford to pay a winning team until the fans show up.
Yeah, that’s a pickle right there.
In an attempt to supplement their sagging ticket sales, Indians have been coming up with creative ways to generate new revenue streams. In addition to Snow Days, various concerts have been held at Progressive Field (most recently the Brad Paisley H2O II tour this past summer), as was the Frozen Diamond Faceoff hockey game between Michigan and Ohio State last weekend.
No, these events haven’t all been successes—it’s been widely reported that Snow Days has actually lost money for the second year in a row. But does that mean we should discount the effort the Indians have put forth to generate enough additional revenue to put a winning team on the field? Absolutely not. That the Indians are actually attempting to fight their way out of small-market syndrome is praiseworthy considering that some of their peers would rather just continue to complain about the imbalance.
The Indians have come to the realization that they are not and never will be the Yankees and the Red Sox. Despite what we all think, the fan base for the the Tribe is nowhere near that in New York or Boston, and media deals won’t bring in enough cash to narrow the gap. That’s why we have Snow Days and other off the wall events besides baseball taking place at Progressive Field.
All of that being said, what else could the Indians do to generate additional revenue and pull themselves out of the small market funk? I thought long and hard and this is what I came up with. And before anyone ridicules the absurdity of some of these ideas, I say to you, did you ever think you’d see a winter wonderland inside Progressive Field? Exactly.
Bring the Ohio high school state baseball championships to Progressive Field. Right now, the state baseball semi-finals and finals are held in Columbus at Huntington Park, home of the Columbus Clippers. Yes, it makes more sense to hold the state championships in the state capital and Columbus’ central location is convenient for travel purposes. But wouldn’t it be worth the trip to play in an MLB stadium? This would add revenue through ticket sales, concessions, and sponsorship opportunities and while proving the players with a once-in-a-lifetime experience (unless, of course, they are drafted and signed by the Indians).
The semi-finals and finals are held over a two-day span at the beginning of June, so it could easily be held on a weekend when the Indians are out of town.
Turn Progressive Field into a glorified movie theater: The Indians have one of the largest and most impressive video scoreboards in Major League Baseball, so why not take advantage of it? They’ve shown movies in the past after games, but what I’m suggesting goes a step further.
Why not get the rights to new movies and hold one-night-only screenings? If people lined up for days to see Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars, imagine how enthusiastic they’d be to watch them on one of the biggest screens in town. If they could incorporate 3-D into this, even better.
More concerts: The Indians play 81 games on the road every year. That’s a lot of open dates in which Progressive Field just sits empty. Why, then, should they limit themselves to one concert per year? Cleveland Browns Stadium isn’t a concert venue either, so the Indians would have the market to themselves. And speaking from experience, I’d much rather go to Progressive Field for a concert than try and navigate my way on back roads to see a performance at Blossom.
Get a Bowl Game: This is the most outrageous idea I could come up with, but is it really that outrageous? The Yankees just held the second annual New Era Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium. Why couldn’t the Indians acquire the right to a bowl game to be held in Progressive Field?
Wouldn’t Progressive jump at the opportunity to slap their name on a bowl game near their corporate headquarters? They could call it the Progressive Auto Insurance Great Lakes Bowl or the Progressive Insurance North Coast Bowl, something like that. It would provide an interesting setting for a football game and depending on the teams involved could generate a pretty decent chunk of change.
So what do you think? Are any of these ideas crazy enough to work?