Indians’ Attendance Woes Continue…But Why?

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David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

1. The weather is awful. Ok, I’ll give you that one. April and May aren’t always the best months of the year for Cleveland’s weather. It’s just as likely to be snowing as it is to be 70 degrees and sunny. Case in point: both White Sox series have been marred by awful weather conditions.

Then again, this is coming from the same group of people who have no problem venturing down to the Factory of Sadness when it’s -20 degrees in December to watch the Browns lose to the Steelers 35-3. Who wants to sit in a great stadium and watch good baseball in April when you can watch football in subzero temperatures directly on the lake?

2. School isn’t out yet. This argument is a little more valid. I understand parents not wanting to keep their kids out till 9 or 10 on a school night. Then again, it’s not as if it’s an every-night thing for parents to take their kids to a baseball game. Plus, the Indians have had plenty of afternoon weekend games thus far and those games haven’t fared any better attendance-wise.

3. Local media bias. People like to complain that attendance is so bad because the local media shuns the Indians in favor of other local teams. This is partly true. The amount of emphasis placed on the Browns can be a bit over the top at times. Why we need four Browns-related guests on local talk radio almost every day is beyond my level of comprehension.  When LeBron was in Cleveland, the Cavs were the “it” team, and they’re threatening to regain their throne now with Kyrie Irving. The Indians get put on the back burner, and people pay attention to baseball only if they’re in the hunt in August and September.

The problem is, the Indians have been around since the turn of the 20th century. They’ve played baseball every single season practically since the dawn of time. It shouldn’t take a media frenzy to get Clevelanders to remember that the big stadium at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario is there for a reason.

4. The 1995 effect. What do I mean by this? Everyone is still hung up on the 1995 team that lost the World Series to Atlanta. It’s been 17 years and still people are trying to compare the current team to 1995 team. News flash: that was a once-in-a-lifetime collection of talent. Albert Belle, Carlos Baerga, and Kenny Lofton aren’t walking through the door. Dick Jacobs and John Hart aren’t spending mountains of money on talent.

Let it go. That was a different time and baseball is a different game then it was in 1995. Please, put down the Wayne Kirby jersey t-shirt and snap back to reality. This is your team. Embrace them.

Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE

5. We’ll show up when they’re winning. That’s great and all. But this team is winning. Look at the standings. We’re in first place and we’re over .500. I could understand this if we had just come off of our 19th-straight losing season like the Pirates, but I can’t wrap my head around it given where the Indians currently stand and the expectations that were placed on this team heading into 2012.

The people of Pittsburgh would kill to have this team. You know how I know this? Because despite their 19 straight losing seasons, last year’s brief glimmer of hope was enough to get those people to the ballpark. They’re currently ranked 19th in attendance (25,154) even though they are headed for their 20th straight losing season. That’s right Cleveland fans…even Pittsburgh is beating you.

6. Spite against the ownership. Fact: The people of Cleveland are frustrated with the Dolans even though he didn’t relocate the team or hold a self-glossing TV special to stab us all in the back. Why sugarcoat it and try to make it sound any different than it really is? Fans of the Indians are unhappy with the lack of urgency in offseason moves, the constant trading of star players, and the failure to repeat the successes of the previous regime.

While I understand these arguments, it shouldn’t be enough to keep people from coming to the ballpark. It’s not the players’ fault, yet the fans feel the need to punish them through a silent protest of sorts. There is a collective failure to realize that without fans in the seats spending money on tickets and concessions the team can’t generate the necessary revenues to compete with the big boys. Don’t let that Forbes report from a few months ago fool you. This argument really is cutting of your nose to spite your face. It serves no purpose. Plus, going back to point #1, people have no problem watching the Browns go 3-13 or 4-12 year after year.

What it comes down to is that the Dolans have chosen to build a team in a manner that a lot of people don’t understand and don’t agree with. Again, this isn’t 1995 where the long ball wins all. The current baseball landscape is all about youth, value, and sabermetrics. Unfortunately, most fans don’t want to embrace this new way of thinking and rather than try to understand it would rather complain.

And to anyone that thinks this sort of argument in hopes of driving out the current ownership is the surefire solution, how about you go ask the people of Seattle how it worked out for the Supersonics.

7. Economy: This is probably the biggest factor affecting the current attendance figures and the one they can’t control at all. It’s no secret that the city of Cleveland is struggling economically. It has been for some time now. The city’s population has decreased, people are unemployed, and as a result families are forced to make their entertainment dollars stretch further than they ever have before.

All things considered the Indians have done a phenomenal job making ticket prices more affordable, but that still doesn’t make a cheap night out for most people. Throw in the fact that there are two other pro teams competing for everyone’s hard-earned dollars and its understandable that attendance would struggle. I’m sure it happens in other markets too.

I myself am a victim of this. I live in New Orleans because of my job and obviously can’t attend games like I used to. But you better believe I have tickets for when I go home in July. I’m not alone in this either. Many of my friends have moved away, more so because of necessity than anything else. How do the Indians go about fixing that? Other than continuing to put a competitive product on the field that should appeal to fans, I honestly have no idea.

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Topics: Cleveland Indians, Progressive Field

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