SBJ/January 23-29, 2012/Franchises

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  • Snow go? Indians to evaluate winter carnival after it doesn’t spin profit for second year

    The Cleveland Indians face an uncertain future with their Snow Days winter carnival at Progressive Field after the second edition of the offseason attraction ended with another financial loss.

    The Indians expanded the Snow Days event, which features ice skating, tobogganing and other winter activities at the ballpark, by nearly two weeks and added an outdoor college ice hockey game between the University of Michigan and Ohio State University, branded the Frozen Diamond Faceoff.

    The Ohio State-Michigan hockey game that was part of Snow Days drew 25,864 and was profitable on its own.
    Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
    That game drew 25,864 and by itself was profitable, but attendance for Snow Days fell to an undisclosed mark below last year’s draw of about 50,000 and did not generate a profit.

    “We’re evaluating this on many levels, most of which were successful,” said Mark Shapiro, Indians president. “Operationally, it went very well. We definitely improved the event, we continued to bring people to downtown Cleveland and the ballpark, and all of our fan feedback has been extremely positive.

    “But in terms of driving incremental revenue, it was much more mixed. Attendance for Snow Days just didn’t gain the kind of traction that we had hoped.”

    The Indians were hampered by an unusually mild winter that has brought warm, rainy weather to much of the Northeast and Midwest. The financial losses will be mitigated somewhat by the value of marketing exposure for the Indians during the winter events, where the club continually promoted the availability of tickets for the coming season. Single-game Indians tickets go on sale Feb. 20.

    The Indians will now determine their next steps for Snow Days over the next several months. A decision is unlikely before late spring, but Shapiro hinted strongly at the possibility of taking at least a year off from Snow Days.

    “You do strain a staff, and essentially over the past year, we’ve done two Snow Days, an outdoor hockey game, and a major concert event at the ballpark [last June featuring country music star Kenny Chesney],” Shapiro said. “So whether we continue exactly in this fashion remains to be seen.”

    Progressive Field was one of three MLB ballparks, joining Fenway Park in Boston and Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, to have outdoor hockey rinks installed this winter. Several other MLB teams, including the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees, are exploring similar ventures for future years.

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