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The Ongoing Attendance Problem

Discussion in '(MLB) Cleveland Indians' started by sgm405, Apr 7, 2012.

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What Is the Biggest Reason for Attendance Being So Poor?

  1. Larry Dolan Doesn't Spend Enough Money

    32 vote(s)
    27.4%
  2. Lack of On-Field Success

    56 vote(s)
    47.9%
  3. Lack of a Marketable Superstar

    12 vote(s)
    10.3%
  4. Cleveland Cannot Support Three Professional Sports Teams

    9 vote(s)
    7.7%
  5. The Economy

    8 vote(s)
    6.8%
  1. sgm405

    sgm405 NBA Starter

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    Before we begin this discussion, a few things I'd like to ask of everyone: If you're going to just make jokes about Larry Dolan, please save them for another thread. They are old and tired, and bring nothing to the debate. With that being said, let's first look at some data:

    Key: Payroll/Attendance/Result

    2012 - 21st ($78 M)
    2011 - 26th ($49 M); 24th (22,726); 80-82, 2nd Place
    2010 - 24th ($61 M); 30th (17,435); 69-93, 4th Place
    2009 - 15th ($81 M); 25th (22,492); 65-97, 4th Place
    2008 - 16th ($79 M); 22nd (27,122); 81-81, 3rd Place
    2007 - 22nd ($62 M); 21st (28,448); 96-66, Division Champion; Lost 4-3 in ALCS
    2006 - 25th ($56 M); 25th (24,666); 78-84, 4th Place
    2005 - 26th ($41 M); 24th (24,861); 93-69, 2nd Place
    2004 - 27th ($34 M); 25th (22,400); 80-82, 3rd Place
    2003 - 26th ($48 M); 24th (21,358); 68-94, 4th Place
    2002 - 9th ($78 M); 12th (32,307); 74-88, 3rd Place
    2001 - 5th ($91 M); 4th (39,694); 91-71, Division Champion; Lost 3-2 in ALDS

    There are a few theories out there for why Cleveland hasn't supported this team in 10 years.

    1) Larry Dolan Doesn't Spend Enough Money

    Dick Jacobs sold the Indians just as free agency was starting to become out of control. When Albert Belle signed with the White Sox in 1996 for 5 years, $55 M, people gasped at the size of the deal, which paid Belle $11 M per year. $10-11 M is now the going rate for a good but not great player. After going hard after Manny Ramirez in 2000, the Indians have largely stayed out of the big-name free agent market. They gave sizable extensions to Grady Sizemore (6 years, $24 M), Travis Hafner (4 years, $57 M), and Jake Westbrook (3 years, $33 M). After their 2007 run, they gave Kerry Wood a big deal (2 years, $20 M). Most recently, they extended Asdrubal Cabrera for 2 years, $18 M. They've also spent heavily on the draft in recent years. Dolan has spent money.

    But has he spent enough? The attendance decline began with the first rebuild in 2003, and has never fully recovered. Cleveland had a league-average payroll in 2008 and 2009 and it had little effect on getting more fans to the park. Even more concerning is that attendance remaining low in 2005 when the Indians won 93 games and just missed the playoffs, and in 2007 when they won 96 games, the Division Title, and were one win away from the World Series.

    Has Dolan's reputation suffered so much that even when he does spend, it's ignored? Will fans only support this team if ownership spends with the "big boys", regardless of the on-field result?

    2) Lack of Sustained On-Field Success


    We know that the team's success in individual seasons hasn't altered attendance much, as evidenced by 2005 and 2007. However, over the past 9 years, they have never had back-to-back contending seasons. In the 90's, the Indians were a World Series contender every single year. Did this continual success raise expectations too high? Do they have to be a consistent contender for fans to come back?

    3) Lack of a Marketable Superstar

    We've had some excellent players in Cleveland since the attendance decline began in 2003. Grady Sizemore (pre-injury), Travis Hafner (pre-injury or steroids), C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez, Shin Soo Choo, etc. However, only Sizemore has brought marketable "star power" to the Indians, and even that was short-lived. Do the Indians need their own Kyrie Irving - a superstar on the field that is also easily marketable off of it?

    4) Cleveland Cannot Support Three Professional Sports Franchises

    The Browns, regardless of the product they put on the field, get full support for Cleveland's sports fans. This is absolutely a "Browns Town", and the return of the Browns may have had an impact on the Indians' attendance. The Cavaliers had huge attendance numbers during the LeBron Era, which may have impacted the Indians. When the Cavaliers were at their best, only die-hard Tribe fans paid attention to the Indians before June. However, even with an owner that most fans love who spends a ton of money on his team and a budding superstar in Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers sit at 19th in the league in attendance. Is there just not enough money to go around for all three teams?

    5) The Economy

    This may go along with #4 a bit. We all know that, while there have been encouraging signs of a recovery lately, the economy has struggled for at least 5 years, maybe more. We also know that Ohio has been one of the hardest hit states by this weakened economy. Has the lower attendance been a simple result of people not having as much disposable income to use to go to games?


    In my opinion, it's an unfortunate perfect storm of all five. I do know that when it's 60 degrees and sunny on a Saturday afternoon and only 18,842 show up (many of them Jays fans), we have a problem. I know that it's an even bigger problem when the Indians have a year like they did in 2007 and still don't draw fans.

    While I also know that there's no easy solution, it's frustrating to watch. I'm afraid to see what the turnout is for the Monday-Wednesday games against Chicago.
     
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  2. RealKingofCleve

    RealKingofCleve Banned

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    One playoff appearance in 10+ seasons.
     
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  3. Apathy

    Apathy shalom

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    Agreed, sgm. People not supporting the team as much is a combination of all these excluding number 4.

    Larry Dolan is cheap, so therefore we don't have a superstar, which leads to being shitty, which makes people not want to spend their hard-earned money on watching a bunch of retards lose in the twelfth inning.

    I think Cleveland can sustain 3 sports teams, I just think those teams are so unexciting that almost no one cares.
     
  4. Marcus

    Marcus Let's go Cabs!

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    Unfortunately, I truly think it is some combination of the five. If the Indians could put a consistently good product on the field, more fans would come. 455 straight sellouts doesn't lie, even if the economy was better back then. The Dolans are spending what little money they want to in the wrong areas, and drafting has been suspect for many years. Even when they were splurging a few years ago (15th and 16th in payroll, lol), they were still tying up money in all the wrong people. 2 years and 20 mil to Kerry Wood? Not to mention the fact that they seem to love signing scraps that other teams let go and washed up veterans near the end of their careers. Who the hell is gonna get excited about that? Who really wants to sign or trade for Bobby Abreu or Vlad Guerrero when they are both in the twilight of their careers? Maybe a team that is close to contention, who needs a backup player. Maybe if they were ten years younger, that would be something to get excited about, to draw fans.

    Marketable superstars are tough to have on a team where the ownership has shallow pockets, especially when they can be outspent by New York/Philadelphia/Boston/Los Angeles/Texas on a consistent basis. It's just not feasible for the Indians, as currently constructed, to have a marketable, respectable superstar player for more than one contract, imo.

    Other than the Cavaliers, Cleveland sports are unfortunately bogged down by bad ownership and front office management (well, the jury is still out on H&H, but people are growing as impatient as ever with little to no signs of improvement after multiple years in the city). And unfortunately, that's just how it's going to stay unless someone offers the Dolans an amount they can't refuse or MLB somehow steps in and forces them out (not happening, obviously).
     
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  5. Shakalu M.D.

    Shakalu M.D. Its Happening!!!!

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    I honestly think more of the problem lies with Shapiro and Antonetti than most do. I'd like the Dolans to spend more, but I'm just not a fam of the personnel moves that our management often makes.

    I also think Indians fans are more loyal than given credit for, but it's hard to drag yourself out to watch shitty baseball when it costs 10 bucks for a beer. People always get amped for opening day, way more so than the Cavs and maybe on par with the Browns. Once we start to suck, enthusiasm dies and attendance goes down. Out a good product on the field and people will show up.

    Just look at opening day, they had record setting attendance. This was supposed to be the year we compete (even if the Tiggers are the favorites) so fans show up and get excited. Turns out, our offense sucks a big one again so we will likely have attendance problems again.

    In a bad economy if you have a shitty product people won't show up. Even if we sucked but were fun to watch people would come. But we suck, we lose, and we get like 2 hits a game. That's just not fun.
     
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    Last edited: Apr 7, 2012
  6. Soda

    Soda Bania'd

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    Shotty fans and a lack of trust. If an owner stepped up and conversed with the fans I think they'd understand the team philosophy better.
     
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  7. Cleveland56

    Cleveland56 Situational Stopper

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    We lost back to back Cy Young winners and what do we have to show for it.....
     
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  8. sgm405

    sgm405 NBA Starter

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    Thank you to everyone for your input. It certainly seems by the responses and votes so far that the reason for poor attendance in a combination of many things.

    A few responses:

    "One playoff appearance in 10+ seasons."

    This kind of goes with the "sustained winning" argument. I can certainly understand this reason.

    "Larry Dolan is cheap, so therefore we don't have a superstar, which leads to being shitty, which makes people not want to spend their hard-earned money on watching a bunch of guys lose in the twelfth inning."

    I can understand the majority of this, but it doesn't explain why people still didn't come in 2007...that was a damn good team, and an exciting one to watch.

    "Unfortunately, I truly think it is some combination of the five. If the Indians could put a consistently good product on the field, more fans would come. 455 straight sellouts doesn't lie, even if the economy was better back then. The Dolans are spending what little money they want to in the wrong areas, and drafting has been suspect for many years. Even when they were splurging a few years ago (15th and 16th in payroll, lol), they were still tying up money in all the wrong people. 2 years and 20 mil to Kerry Wood? Not to mention the fact that they seem to love signing scraps that other teams let go and washed up veterans near the end of their careers. Who the hell is gonna get excited about that? Who really wants to sign or trade for Bobby Abreu or Vlad Guerrero when they are both in the twilight of their careers? Maybe a team that is close to contention, who needs a backup player. Maybe if they were ten years younger, that would be something to get excited about, to draw fans."

    I appreciate the "455", but in my opinion it's easy to support a team that runs away with the division title every single year. A great fan base supports their team, especially in a year they are contending. The Indians had a perfect storm in the 90's - the Browns were gone, the Cavaliers were irrelevant, the economy was good, and they had a group of young offensive talent that may never be matched in Indians history. The 1995 lineup was one of the best in the history of baseball - Three Baseball Hall of Famers (Thome, Vizquel, Murray), two guys who should have been Hall of Famers (Belle missed because of injuries, Ramirez will miss because of steroids), two Indians Hall of Famers (Lofton, Alomar), and one all-star caliber player (Baerga). It was also before free agency created a "have's and have not's" economic climate in baseball.

    I do agree that while the Dolan's have spent money, it hasn't been spent wisely (which, of course, is always easy to say in retrospect). Hafner, Sizemore, and Westbrook all got hurt and Kerry Wood forgot how to pitch for a year. They also never invested in the draft until recent years.

    "I also think Indians fans are more loyal than given credit for, but it's hard to drag yourself out to watch shitty baseball when it costs 10 bucks for a beer. People always get amped for opening day, way more so than the Cavs and maybe on par with the Browns. Once we start to suck, enthusiasm dies and attendance goes down. Out a good product on the field and people will show up. Just look at opening day, they had record setting attendance. This was supposed to be the year we compete (even if the Tiggers are the favorites) so fans show up and get excited. Turns out, our offense sucks a big one again so we will likely have attendance problems again. In a bad economy if you have a shitty product people won't show up. Even if we sucked but were fun to watch people would come. But we suck, we lose, and we get like 2 hits a game. That's just not fun."

    The 2007 Indians were good (96 wins, one game away from the World Series) and fun to watch (led the league in comeback wins), yet they finished 21st in MLB attendance...so I'm not sure evidence supports the argument that building a fun, winning team will raise attendance significantly. I also don't think a hot start will do it - the 2011 Indians started 12-4. The last three wins in that sixteen game stretch were a Friday-Sunday series at home. Attendance was 16,346 on Friday, 10,714 on Saturday, 13,017 on Sunday.

    "Shotty fans and a lack of trust. If an owner stepped up and conversed with the fans I think they'd understand the team philosophy better."

    Could you expand on the "stepping up and conversing with fans" part? I never considered anything like that.

    "We lost back to back Cy Young winners and what do we have to show for it....."


    To be honest, not much...but I think if you look at the bigger picture, they made up for those deals with Casey Blake for Carlos Santana, Eduardo Perez for Asdrubal Cabrera, Ben Broussard for Shin Shoo Choo, and Mark DeRosa for Chriz Perez.
     
  9. elcheato

    elcheato NBA Starter

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    Being a small market team is hard to sell to a casual fan, which makes up most of your attendance. They don't understand the rational for trading star players they can't afford, they just look at it as a stupid move regardless and use it as another reason not to support/go out to games.

    The Dolans can't improve their public imagine unless they spend, retain stars, etc. and that doesn't seem likely.
     
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  10. Chris

    Chris Welcome to the Future

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    Not much else to say.
     
  11. Nom

    Nom Sixth Man

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    I'd agree except the 2nd game of the year is almost always the lowest attended all season.

    Clevelanders love to tailgate and party. That's why the Browns always draw well. It's an event. Most of the people in the Muni lot can't name more than a few Browns players.

    Opening Day is well attended because it is an event and involves drinking. After that, people don care to get involved with the team.
     
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  12. Mad Hatter

    Mad Hatter Weapon of Choice

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    When the same question was posed last year at the start of the season, this was my opinion on it. I still feel exactly the same way. MLB needs major changes, simple as that. Here's what I posted last year:

     
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  13. CavsRules

    CavsRules Get Boobied'

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    Ownership has been a joke for countless years that it's starting to become pretty sad. Whether it has to do with them being cheap or poor, either way the ownership has to change in order for this franchise to be successful in this shitty excuse of a money driven sport.

    Baseball use to be fun.. But with no salary cap, it's impossible to compete with any team that has an owner willing to spend.

    Until a ownership change, the Indians will continue to be a triple A team for the bigger market teams.
     
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  14. Nom

    Nom Sixth Man

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    Ownership isn't any different than most small markets. If the Dolans sell we're more likely to be run like KC than DET.

    The 90's spoiled everyone on what CLE could do. TV contracts changed the game and fans' expectations haven't caught up. They think their owner is the worst in baseball without looking around and seeing he is probably better than a lot of small market owners.

    I asked awhile back and I'll ask again - name all these small mkts spending more than CLE.

    If I'm reading this chart correctly, the Indians have spent more than 11 other teams over the last ten years.

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/ten-years-of-spending/

    Again, this isn't amDolan problem, this is an MLB problem.
     
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  15. The Oi

    The Oi Or Also Schtick

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    How are people defining small, mid and large markets?
     
  16. elcheato

    elcheato NBA Starter

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    The Indians already are ran like KC.
     
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  17. Nom

    Nom Sixth Man

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    I'm on my phone so I can't check - but I think this is the first year that KC has gone over $60 mil in like 10 years - meanwhile the Indians were over $80 mil in '09 and had multiple years over $70 mil lately.
     
  18. elcheato

    elcheato NBA Starter

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    The Royals were over 70 mill in 2009 and 2010, and they now actually have a brighter future than the Indians.
     
  19. Nom

    Nom Sixth Man

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    Well, that point blew up in my face.

    Although by Tribe fan logic - they shouldn't get fans since they haven't made playoffs in forever and haven't signed any FA
     
  20. bushwick_bill

    bushwick_bill Sixth Man

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    Economy and having three teams in a city that is dying. In the 90s during the Tribe's glory years we didn't have a football team and the Cavs weren't so popular...
     
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