Poor Economy Forces Indians Into Desperate Move: Listening To Their Fans

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Camden Yards is of course the godfather of the modern ballpark. It's retro style and top of the line concessions set the standard for nearly every single park built since. Whether publicly or privately financed, franchises across not just baseball, but all sports, have pitched the idea that you're nothing without a shiny new venue.

Implicit in this idea is that no matter what team is playing in it, people will come to the game to see the new digs. In that respect, I don't think Camden that set that standard, but in fact it was Cleveland's Jacobs Field. Casual baseball fans and fans not tied to the Indians in any way still knew about the Indians' home sellout streak. It became a part of the team's identity throughout the 90s and early part of this decade as much as any player did.

The New Park Bubble was stretched to it's breaking point last year when the Nationals were just too lousy to justify any huge new stadium attendance. And now after last season's disappointing finish, and the frightening lack of disposable income hitting baseball fans, attendance is even lacking at The Jake.

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer comes word that the Indians are so worried about renewing season ticket holders that they're (gasp) reaching out to them on a more than purely superficial level.

They've divided up a call list of season-ticket holders who haven't yet renewed for 2009. If you're one, the voice on the other line may be team President Paul Dolan, General Manager Mark Shapiro, executive vice president for business Dennis Lehman or maybe even radio play-by-play announcer Tom Hamilton.

On a few frigid weeknights in January, the Indians front office is also reaching out to fans where they live.

On Monday, Dolan, Shapiro and Lehman fielded questions from about 80 fans at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School auditorium in the first of three "Indians Town Hall" meetings with current and former season-ticket holders.

Questions on Monday ranged from why, at $4 for bottled water, fans can't at least bring one in if it's still factory-sealed (Lehman promised he'd look into it) to whether the team had a contingency plan to add power to the lineup if injured designated hitter Travis Hafner doesn't return to form.

Sure, desperate times call for desperate measures and at the end of the day this is still about trying to get that money back, but it's a genuine exchange. Many sports fans are fiercely loyal anyway, but who wouldn't feel better if the organization just took an hour to listen before taking your money? In an era where press releases speak just as loudly as actions in the eyes of a complicit media, tangible contact and real answers to real questions go a long way.

We cover this stuff every day. As cynical as I am about the entire business of sports, this is refreshing. You've heard a lot of talk about "corrections" during this recession. It's a nice way of saying that the greed and mismanagement of the last 15 years were unsustainable. If that trickles down to a rethinking of monolithic, mechanical sports organizations than that's a correction that will be better for all fans.


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15 Comments

Screw Jacobs Field. I can bring as many water bottles and as much food as I want to Yankee Stadium.

Well, the old Yankee Stadium...

You can do that at Camden too. And the whole stadium isn't filled with a bunch of rockheaded jamooks.

You can also bring in water and a sandwiches/peanuts to turner.

But they still make you buy beer inside.

In a related story Kansas City residents add Dayton Moore to do not call list.

You can do that at Camden too. And the whole stadium isn't filled with a bunch of rockheaded jamooks.

Except when the Yankees are in town. Or the Red Sox. Or the Phillies. Or the Mets.

The Indians signed Carl Pavano, can it get more desperate than that? Something tells me that move didn't sell many season tickets.

You can bring anything into Oakland. From food, to drink, to complex dirty bombs, etc.

THE OPINONS OF FARTHAMMER DO NOT REPRESENT THE OPINIONS OF WALKOFFWALK.COM

What opinion? Farthammer IS a complex dirty bomb, ergo his attendance in Oakland only validates the statement.

Gomer is right, but only after I eat jalapeno-laced nachos.

PS Sorry Hammer, lowbrow jokes are easy.

In my mind I like to pronounce Farthammer like "Farth-ammer."

I am impressed by this. Keep in mind, the current economic crisis has hit Cleveland particularly hard.

I do have one gripe with ownership, though. Fans were able to buy engraved paving stones at the Jake yet they rejected every iteration of "Art Modell can suck my dick" that I submitted.

why, at $4 for bottled water, fans can't at least bring one in if it's still factory-sealed

Lehman : Because then we wouldn't make $3.98 on the sale of that bottle! Do you really not get this? Hello? Is this thing on?

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