Apr 13, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; A fan stands in the upper deck in the ninth inning of a game between the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Indians Fans Among the Least Engaged


Indians Fans Ranked Second to Last in Engagement

This shouldn’t be much of a shocker, but maybe you should all sit down… and by all, I mean probably the dozen or so of you that seem to care about the Cleveland Indians after Opening Day every season.

In a recent survey of the most engaged fan bases in all of baseball, fans of the Cleveland Indians came in second to last. When you consider that the Mimai Marlins had the least engaged fan base in all of baseball, a glorified minor league team and vortex of apathy for much of their existence, it’s hard not to say that the Indians came in dead last among real Major League teams.

If so many of you don’t care, I’m not entirely sure what that means for myself and the rest of my staff. Are we the metaphorical tree that’s always falling in the woods that no one is ever around to hear? It sure seems like it most days.

Anyways, the survey, carried out by TicketCity.com, rated team fan bases on six categories and assigned each category an appropriate weight. For instance, home attendance and percentage of stadium capacity held more weight than social media contributions on Facebook or Twitter. Here is the full explanation of the process as it can be found on TicketCity.com:

Fan engagement is evaluated in terms of the following metrics. The data is based on the 2013 season, based on games played and data available prior to July 30th. Each metric was given a corresponding weight, listed in bold, which was determined based on how indicative the metric is of fan activity. For example, home attendance, capacity and average ticket price are weighted higher because they are a better direct reflection of home team behavior. Similarly, online metrics are not weighted as high as offline metrics because they reflect only the team-sanctioned social channel and do not account for other fan communities.

Average total attendance, all games (5)
Average home attendance (10)
Average home game ticket price (10)
Percentage of stadium capacity filled at home games (10)
Facebook likes & Facebook “talking about” (6)
Twitter following (3)

So how exactly did the results turn out? Well, take a look at the chart below for a full detail of who finished where and how far behind the rest of the pack the Indians were. Also worth noting, the Tampa Bay Rays finished one spot higher than the Indians. That’s a major accomplishment for them, but also makes me feel bad for staff writer Steve Kinsella. Living in Tampa, Steve is an avid fan of the Rays as well and knows all to well the pain that comes with being one of just a handful of die-hard fans for not just one, but two franchises.

Indians fans

overall rnakings

So just what are we to make of these findings? Well, in all honesty, nothing presented in these results is all that surprising. We have seen fan involvement steadily decline each and every year over the past five years or so. The constant struggles to get fans into the stadium has been an on-going battle and a riddle that no one has been able to solve. Everyone has analyzed it, trying to find a reason or a solution, but to no avail.

Perhaps the most revealing aspect of these results is facing the reality of where the fan base is right now with the Indians. While no one would expect the Indians to finish in the top 10, finishing in the middle of the pack would not have been the worst thing ever. Instead, the fan base came in second to last. That result might as well have an asterisk next to it that states in bold typeface – crappy fans.

I’m sorry. It’s true.

While admittedly the Indians have fallen on hard times of in recent years, they are by no means any worse than the Browns or Cavs and yet those teams continue to draw attendance. Meanwhile, the best run organization in the city and a team coming off of a playoff appearance is forced to deal with issues concerning how many fans are showing up on a given night. You could go insane trying to find the answer to why, but as time passes on it appears that the situation simply is what it is.

As for myself and the staff here at Wahoo’s on First, we’ll continue to do what we can to promote fan engagement with the Indians. It’s what we do. We’re hopping on the ride for the long haul from the very beginning and we’re going to see it through to the end. Just don’t cry to us when you can’t find room on the bandwagon come July.

Tags: Attendance Cleveland Indians Fan Base

  • DC

    Yeah, I’m thoroughly shocked. Not. Crappy fans indeed

    Maybe we’d (and this use of “we” is apropos, unlike the way sports fans normally use it) have beaten the Rays and Astros’ fans if the survey had used the entire 2013 season, considering that attendance picked up down the stretch, albeit far less than I’d have liked to see. Still wouldn’t have reached anywhere near middle of the pack, which would be the blowful Twins–who also play outdoors in chilly weather in April BTW–who’ve been bad for a couple seasons, too. Wow.

    I go to the Opening Series every season, and I will be seriously surprised if Games 2 and 3 break 20,000. This team made the playoffs last year, too! If they break 50% capacity (they’re weekend games, man!) that would be the first sign that maybe Tribe fans are becoming less crappy.

  • Letterman007

    Maybe if ownership would put a competent team on the field year after year they might get some fans loyality! As it sits now, can you name me the face of this franchise!?? Don’t say Masterson as he may be gone by years end. Swisher, yeah an Ohio boy but did he even live up to his career stats last year? NO he and Bourn were below even their career stats. Probably the best two players on the team are Brantley and Kipinis and most of the world of pro baseball don’t even know them! So I guess it comes down to Tito and isn’t it sad that the face of your franchise is the manager!! Where is the Manny or Alomar or Thomey or even Albert Bell!!

    • DC

      How are the Cubs #9 and the Rockies #12 then? They haven’t been competent for over 5 years and yet their fans are still engaged. The Cubs’ title-less curse is longer than the Indians’ and the Rockies have yet to win a game in a World Series, so that doesn’t explain everything.

    • Letterman007

      The Cub fans are just ardent and I even root for the Cubs, they are like Brown’s fans, good or bad they show up! The Indians haven’t had a team the fans think has a chance, since the mid to late 90′s. Even then they came within a pitch of wining a World Series! The city of Cleveland last won a championship in 1963 and that was the Browns beating the Baltimore Colts in the NFL Championship game!! Yes that was before the First Super Bowl!!!
      The Indians fans have been lead on by present ownership, who had promised when the team got close they would spend money to going to the Series they would spend money to put them over the top!! They made the one game playoffs and got booted to the curb. Couldn’t even score a run in the game!! So the owners went out, this year and the top free agent they got was Murphy from Texas and a bunch of has beens and never will be’s! Time after time they have been lied to and then told show up to the park and give us your money and we will spend more. Doesn’t happen, like the kid that cried wolf!! The fans are now in the I’ll show up when you put a quality product on the field consistently!! There is no face to this franshise unless you consider Tito Francona, the manager, the Indians face! He doesn’t bat or play the field!!