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Volume 24 No. 235
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Indians' Revenue Climbing In Ranks Of MLB Following Back-To-Back Trips To Postseason

The Indians in '14 were in "the bottom third of the bottom third" among the 30 MLB teams in revenue, but after consecutive playoff appearances, they are "well above the norm" in the league, according to Kevin Kleps of the CRAIN'S CLEVELAND BUSINESS. President of Business Operations Brian Barren in '14 developed a plan to get the team to 15th in the organization's "key business metrics within five years." Barren said making significant improvements in three crucial revenue segments -- tickets, premium suites and corporate partnerships -- creates "as much flexibility as possible for our baseball operations team and our ownership to field a competitive baseball team." The team's success in '16, with a World Series appearance, was the ideal version of Barren's business plan -- a "quality on-field product that generated increased sales, which led to significant payroll increases and an improved roster that helped to produce yet another revenue bump." The Indians are 19th in "overall ticket revenue, a seven-spot improvement" from '16, and 17th in the league in season-ticket revenue. The Indians are "eighth in partial season-ticket revenue and seventh in money generated by sales of mini-ticket packages (the popular six packs)." They finished the '17 season with 12,300 "full-season equivalents." As of the second week of January, the Indians had already "topped 13,100 FSEs" for '18. That "marked a 51% gain" from '16 and was 7,100 ahead of the franchise's '12 total of 6,000 (CRAIN'S CLEVELAND BUSINESS, 1/22 issue).

As of the second week of January, the Indians had already topped 13,100 FSEs for 2018. That marked a 51% gain from 2016 (8,700, which ranked 23rd in MLB) and was 7,100 ahead of the franchise's 2012 total of 6,000.

The most significant growth, which is reflected in the revenue rankings, is in the 20-game, or quarter-season, plans.

Indians vice president of sales and service Tim Salcer said 6,000 of the franchise's 8,800 season-ticket accounts are the result of 20-game plans. The Indians had 3,500 total season-ticket accounts as recently as 2016.

"The growth has been strong," Salcer said.

The Tribe VP said more than 80% of the club's new season-ticket purchases are 20-game plans.

That group gives the Indians a much-needed cushion during less-attended games in the spring months, and it fueled a 29% overall attendance gain that was the largest in MLB last season.

It's the spring months that Barren attributed to the lone category in which the Indians weren't in the top 20 in ticket revenue — group sales. The Tribe is 27th in group revenue and 28th in group sales.

From his perspective, those are numbers that illustrate the significant work that still needs to be done for a franchise that believes it's batting above its weight class in a field tilted toward economic heavyweights in New York (the Yankees), Los Angeles (the Dodgers), Boston (the Red Sox) and Chicago (the Cubs).

"Getting to the middle of the pack (in MLB revenue) is absolutely stretching, and it is achievable," Barren said. "We're pleased that we're able to crack into the teens on the metrics that matter on a few fronts, but we have plenty of room to grow and continue to develop and execute plans to get us in that neighborhood of 15th by 2019."

Getting to the middle doesn't guarantee anything, of course.

The 2017 World Series was won by the Houston Astros, who opened the season with the 18th-largest payroll — one spot behind the Indians.

But Barren and the business team, because of their faith in a baseball operation led by president Chris Antonetti, general manager Mike Chernoff and manager Terry Francona, like their odds, as long as those who contribute to the office charts can hold up their end of the bargain.

"What we're really after is putting ourselves in a position to be competitive over the long haul as best we can from a business perspective," Barren said.

Salcer, who joined the Tribe in October 2014 (nine months after Barren), also has a background in consumer goods. He said his boss' "office scoreboard" is inescapable. It's the biz team's version of the stock ticker that was so prevalent during Barren's days at P&G.

"It's ingrained in our heads what we want to do," Salcer said. "Fifteen and 5 is the battle cry for our business team. Like anything, when you have a really difficult challenge early on, it's amazing how people have come to believe that's possible."


As of the second week of January, the Indians had already topped 13,100 FSEs for 2018. That marked a 51% gain from 2016 (8,700, which ranked 23rd in MLB) and was 7,100 ahead of the franchise's 2012 total of 6,000.

The most significant growth, which is reflected in the revenue rankings, is in the 20-game, or quarter-season, plans.

Indians vice president of sales and service Tim Salcer said 6,000 of the franchise's 8,800 season-ticket accounts are the result of 20-game plans. The Indians had 3,500 total season-ticket accounts as recently as 2016.

"The growth has been strong," Salcer said.

The Tribe VP said more than 80% of the club's new season-ticket purchases are 20-game plans.

That group gives the Indians a much-needed cushion during less-attended games in the spring months, and it fueled a 29% overall attendance gain that was the largest in MLB last season.

It's the spring months that Barren attributed to the lone category in which the Indians weren't in the top 20 in ticket revenue — group sales. The Tribe is 27th in group revenue and 28th in group sales.

From his perspective, those are numbers that illustrate the significant work that still needs to be done for a franchise that believes it's batting above its weight class in a field tilted toward economic heavyweights in New York (the Yankees), Los Angeles (the Dodgers), Boston (the Red Sox) and Chicago (the Cubs).

"Getting to the middle of the pack (in MLB revenue) is absolutely stretching, and it is achievable," Barren said. "We're pleased that we're able to crack into the teens on the metrics that matter on a few fronts, but we have plenty of room to grow and continue to develop and execute plans to get us in that neighborhood of 15th by 2019."

Getting to the middle doesn't guarantee anything, of course.

The 2017 World Series was won by the Houston Astros, who opened the season with the 18th-largest payroll — one spot behind the Indians.

But Barren and the business team, because of their faith in a baseball operation led by president Chris Antonetti, general manager Mike Chernoff and manager Terry Francona, like their odds, as long as those who contribute to the office charts can hold up their end of the bargain.

"What we're really after is putting ourselves in a position to be competitive over the long haul as best we can from a business perspective," Barren said.

Salcer, who joined the Tribe in October 2014 (nine months after Barren), also has a background in consumer goods. He said his boss' "office scoreboard" is inescapable. It's the biz team's version of the stock ticker that was so prevalent during Barren's days at P&G.

"It's ingrained in our heads what we want to do," Salcer said. "Fifteen and 5 is the battle cry for our business team. Like anything, when you have a really difficult challenge early on, it's amazing how people have come to believe that's possible."


As of the second week of January, the Indians had already topped 13,100 FSEs for 2018. That marked a 51% gain from 2016 (8,700, which ranked 23rd in MLB) and was 7,100 ahead of the franchise's 2012 total of 6,000.

The most significant growth, which is reflected in the revenue rankings, is in the 20-game, or quarter-season, plans.

Indians vice president of sales and service Tim Salcer said 6,000 of the franchise's 8,800 season-ticket accounts are the result of 20-game plans. The Indians had 3,500 total season-ticket accounts as recently as 2016.

"The growth has been strong," Salcer said.

The Tribe VP said more than 80% of the club's new season-ticket purchases are 20-game plans.

That group gives the Indians a much-needed cushion during less-attended games in the spring months, and it fueled a 29% overall attendance gain that was the largest in MLB last season.

It's the spring months that Barren attributed to the lone category in which the Indians weren't in the top 20 in ticket revenue — group sales. The Tribe is 27th in group revenue and 28th in group sales.

From his perspective, those are numbers that illustrate the significant work that still needs to be done for a franchise that believes it's batting above its weight class in a field tilted toward economic heavyweights in New York (the Yankees), Los Angeles (the Dodgers), Boston (the Red Sox) and Chicago (the Cubs).

"Getting to the middle of the pack (in MLB revenue) is absolutely stretching, and it is achievable," Barren said. "We're pleased that we're able to crack into the teens on the metrics that matter on a few fronts, but we have plenty of room to grow and continue to develop and execute plans to get us in that neighborhood of 15th by 2019."

Getting to the middle doesn't guarantee anything, of course.

The 2017 World Series was won by the Houston Astros, who opened the season with the 18th-largest payroll — one spot behind the Indians.

But Barren and the business team, because of their faith in a baseball operation led by president Chris Antonetti, general manager Mike Chernoff and manager Terry Francona, like their odds, as long as those who contribute to the office charts can hold up their end of the bargain.

"What we're really after is putting ourselves in a position to be competitive over the long haul as best we can from a business perspective," Barren said.

Salcer, who joined the Tribe in October 2014 (nine months after Barren), also has a background in consumer goods. He said his boss' "office scoreboard" is inescapable. It's the biz team's version of the stock ticker that was so prevalent during Barren's days at P&G.

"It's ingrained in our heads what we want to do," Salcer said. "Fifteen and 5 is the battle cry for our business team. Like anything, when you have a really difficult challenge early on, it's amazing how people have come to believe that's possible."