SBD/May 3, 2011/Franchises

MLB-Best Indians Using Social Media To Better MLB-Worst Attendance

Indians drawing MLB-worst 14,275 fans per game at Progressive Field this year
With MLB's best record, the Indians should have Cleveland "in a frenzy and the stadium packed with fans," but it "isn’t that simple anymore -- not in Cleveland, not in this economy," according to Dave Sheinin of the WASHINGTON POST. The Indians rank last in MLB attendance this season, averaging just 14,275 fans per game at Progressive Field, and the team's attendance has "declined by nearly" 60% in the last decade. For the Indians, drawing 2 million fans to home games this season "would represent a great year," and 2.5 million is the "outer limits of their market." Still, the Indians are "determined to get to those numbers -- one fan at a time, one tweet at a time." Manager Manny Acta is the "public face of the organization’s new, fan-friendly, social-media-intensive approach." Indians President Mark Shapiro, who along with Acta is a frequent Twitter user, said, "We’re trying to connect to our fan base. And Manny’s sincerity and authenticity, and his positive outlook come through when you read his tweets. It’s part of the strategy. It’s not going to change everything. But that’s what we have to do to compete." Acta: "This is the future. This is where it’s heading. Especially the young people -- that’s how you connect with them these days." Shapiro added, "Our (television) ratings are higher than they’ve been at any point, since, really, our last era of success -- and better than in ’07 when we won 96 games. So people are watching and noticing. ... We just have to look at our business differently" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/3).

SLOW OUT OF THE BOX: In N.Y., Ken Belson notes after two straight seasons with more than 90 losses, season-ticket sales are "at their lowest since the Indians moved into their current stadium in 1994." Shapiro: "We’ve dealt with some extreme weather and a very low season-ticket base, and that creates challenges because there isn’t a sense of urgency to come to the ballpark." The Royals face "a similar challenge." They have the "second-lowest attendance this season -- 16,985 a game -- even though they are right behind the Indians in second place" in the AL Central and "almost as much of a surprise as Cleveland is." Conversely, several teams have had "significant increases in attendance to offset some of the gloomier news elsewhere." The first-place Rockies have "sold 19.8 percent more tickets" this season than at the same point in '10, while the Reds have had a 21.3% increase in ticket sales. Overall, MLB attendance is 1.3% lower than at the same point last season, and 20 of 30 teams "have drawn fewer fans." Belson notes attendance "traditionally picks up in the summer when school is out and pennant races start to take shape," and teams also "add more promotions when the weather improves." Whether that will help MLB "reverse a three-year decline in attendance is unclear" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/3).
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Cleveland Indians, Franchises

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