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Who Wants To Go To Progressive Park?

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So, I'll see you there?
So, I'll see you there?

There's already been a lot of good discussion on this site about the hows and whys of attendance at Indians games. From jhon's rundown of the numbers, to rolub's posting of the promotional schedule (and Bogalusa's Bomber assertion that better marketing towards children is the answer), to odradek's suggestion that Mark Shaprio get arrested for public urination. I'm no marketing professional, but all these discussions have pointed me towards two conclusions. First, the Indians do not draw well. Second, many believe the Indians could draw better with improved marketing strategies. Of course, not everyone thinks they could improve through creative salesmanship—as Adam points out, if people won't pay $48 for an eight game pack, how much is a better pitch going to help?

I do think the Indians could sell some more tickets if they'd let their hair down, promotion-wise, every once in a while. I suspect that price point matters a great deal but it's not the whole story. So, humbly, a few ways to get bodies into the seats. Read through them, tell me why they're idiotic, and then tell me what you'd do instead.

  1. Trash Lebron, Early and Often: As the national media loves to remind us, Cleveland is a sports town running on fumes. Between the Cavaliers' historic losing streak, the Browns continued incompetence, and the Indians sporting BP Playoff Odds around 3%, there's not much to cheer for in the Metropolis of the Western Reserve these days. But, even in the face of losses stacked as high as a Slyman's Corned Beef, Clevelanders are still passionate about sports. So, with nowhere positive to put that energy, a substantial portion of it appears to be funneled into despising Lebron James. Scott Raab has turned this into an cottage industry on twitter (warning: profanity ahead). However, twitter isn't easily monetized so everyone's spitting bile while nobody makes money off it. Well, forget your scruples Mr. Shapiro. Tell Mr. Dolan to trust you and then set up some version of the following: Trade Your Lebron Merchandise for $10 Off Your Ticket Night, Lebron Sucks Night (replay of Cavs-Celtics Game 5 or, if appropriate, Heat playoff loss on jumbotron after game), Lebron's Elbow Was Fine Night (first 5,000 fans get an elbow brace to fake their own injury).
  2. The Indians Are Cleveland (and will buy you a beer): Detroit is suddenly back on the national map and posturing itself as a hard-nosed place, ready to roll its sleeves up, make doubters look foolish, and remind the world what makes America hum. Whiners need not apply. Well, hell, that sounds like Cleveland. I don't have it all worked out, but the Indians need to find a way to make showing up at Indians games a way to show pride in the city. This is going to be a tough sell for a team without a native son, with Ivy League educated out-of-towners running the show, and with an ownership group that seems pathologically unable to display charisma of any kind. Many Indians fans, rightly or wrongly, have long felt that the Dolans and Shapiro were running a con on them, taking fans for a ride that ends with lining the Dolans' pockets, not with the championship Cleveland wants so badly. That narrative has to change, now. The Dolans and their marketing people need to show up to places where 'real Clevelanders' are drinking beers, buy a few rounds, and listen. Before they leave the bar, give out a few dozen tickets. Do this enough, learn enough from the conversations, and they might figure out how to align the team's marketing strategy to the city's ethos. Cleveland has pride about things that are deeply broken—the Indians need to be a part of that culture.
  3. Rock n' Blast is not Rock n' Roll: Cleveland supposedly has something to do with Rock n' Roll. The Indians have to know this: their bullpen coach is in a punk band. Use Radinsky's knowledge and contacts, tap into the best of the city's music scene, and put together a show after a game in August. You'll be engaging in the city's culture, taking a lottery ticket on being associated with a band that hits it big, and, along the way, you might accidentally sell some tickets to a few people who never would've gone to an Indians game otherwise.