SBJ/December 13-18, 2010/Franchises

Indians forecast flurry of Snow Days revenue

The Cleveland Indians drew more than 10,000 people to the first seven days of their Snow Days winter carnival at Progressive Field, encouraging team officials in their attempt to generate additional offseason revenue from the facility.

The winter-themed attractions at the downtown ballpark include a snow tubing hill, an ice skating track and rink, a walking trail, and a snow mountain. According to team officials, the effort has created a low- to mid-six-figure sum of new revenue since the event’s opening on Nov. 26, which was dubbed Snopening Day. Numbers are expected to spike as Christmas and New Year’s Day approach, with the Indians projecting a backloaded attendance flow that could reach 60,000 in total before the Jan. 2 conclusion of Snow Days.

The attendance figures do not include a handful of private parties and corporate events the club has scheduled for Snow Days outside of its windows of public availability. Pricing for Snow Days ranges from $5 for activities not including the ice skating and snow tubing to $25 for an all-inclusive pass and a $100 family pass that includes all activities and a food and beverage credit.

Revenue generated from the attraction stays in Cleveland. The money is not subject to MLB revenue-sharing rules.

“The initial response has been nothing short of phenomenal,” said Kurt Schloss, Indians senior director of merchandising and licensing, and project manager for Snow Days. “The word we’re getting over and over from people coming here is ‘awesome.’ But we’ve got sort of a dual purpose here. We’re trying to create memories for the holiday season and bring people downtown and generate additional revenue, but we’re also marketing the upcoming baseball season and enticing people to come back this summer.”

The ticket sales and marketing component for the club is particularly vital: The Indians in 2010 ranked last in overall attendance among MLB clubs amid a 93-loss season.

A firm decision on reviving the Snow Days effort in future winters is not yet definite, but it’s highly likely. After an undisclosed up-front capital expense to purchase needed equipment, such as snow-making gear, to create Snow Days, future events would help amortize against that initial cost.

“I’d be really surprised if this sizzle didn’t turn into some real steak,” Schloss said. “The goal is definitely to come back with this again.”

The Indians’ effort has drawn interest from other pro clubs. Cleveland presented on the campaign at last month’s MLB industry meetings, and team executives said that over the next week they expect to be hosting executives from the Houston Astros and Milwaukee Brewers about the attraction.

“Every sports facility is trying to maximize their offseasons as much as possible,” Schloss said, “so we’ve had some calls from people wanting to learn more about what we’re doing, which is great.”

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