SBD/July 28, 2014/Franchises

Indians Battling Attendance Woes, Turn To Analytics To Forecast Crowds

Indians' attendance ranks 29th in MLB this year despite a '13 playoff berth
The Indians, coming off their "surprising run" to the playoffs last year, rank 29th in MLB attendance this season, and the team's "analytically inclined front office is trying to tackle the problem," according to Kevin Kleps of CRAIN'S CLEVELAND BUSINESS. The team has "numerous methods it's using to study its fan base." Indians Manager of Business Analytics Gabe Gershenfeld has "developed a program the Indians use to predict attendance." The formula "takes historical data into account and weaves in such critical factors as the weather forecast, opponent, team performance, night of the week and time of year." It "doesn't get fans through the gates, but it does give the Indians a much better idea of how to best serve their audience." Indians Senior VP/Strategy & Business Analytics Andrew Miller said, "It's certainly helpful information to have. If you're ordering food, you have a certain amount of lead time. If you're calling up staff members to work the game, you have a certain amount of lead time, but there are still things we're changing on the fly. If we get to the last day or two and expect a big walkup, we need to be prepared for that." Miller added Gershenfeld's attendance forecast prior to the '13 season "wasn't that far off" the 1.57 million fans the Indians ended up drawing last season. The Indians now "have a much more concrete idea of which games are most likely to produce last-minute buying sprees, and which ones will be a friends-and-family type of gathering in which the staff size should be reduced and less food needs to be ordered." Gershenfeld "begins forecasting the Tribe's attendance as soon as the schedule is released, then continues to update it as the season advances" (, 7/27).

THE THIRD WHEEL? In Cleveland, Paul Hoynes wrote under the header, "How Do The Cleveland Indians Compete With Glare From Browns, Cavs?" Indians President Mark Shapiro said, "It's not good for us to react to what other teams and organizations do. We have to focus on our situation and what we need to do to win as many games as possible and enhance our fans' experience." He added, "I think LeBron coming back and the Browns commitment to building a winning organization can only help get more people downtown and create a more vibrant sporting scene in Cleveland. We have a lot of Browns and Cavs fans working for the Indians" (, 7/27).
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