Late last September, the Indianapolis Indians stared down the barrel of financial disaster.Schoettle's story notes the success the Indians have achieved from installing a $600,000 video board near the left field wall that has helped boost sponsorship revenues. “That’s smart business,” said Rick Horrow, president of Horrow Sports Ventures, a Miami-based sports marketing consultancy. “That’s how smart sports business operators are making it in this economy. Not only making cuts where needed, but making strategic investments that will pay real dividends.” By contrast, billionaire Herb Simon is forcing taxpayers to purchase a new $3.5 million digital scoreboard above center court at Conseco Fieldhouse as part of the $33.5 million give-away to the Pacers franchise by the CIB.
Following the 2009 season, three-fourths of the team’s sponsorship deals expired, giving the Indians a tough challenge in an economic climate that’s enough to make just about any sports business administrator hit the panic button.
But Indians officials stood in the batter’s box, dug in their cleats, and didn’t blink. Instead, the team’s front office rolled up their sleeves and went to work.
The Indians re-signed the vast majority of those sponsors and enough new ones to increase sponsorship sales $200,000 over last year, an increase of more than 10 percent. New sponsors include Firestone, Mike’s Express Car Wash, Buffalo Wings & Rings, Frito-Lay and Sharp Business Solutions.
Improved attendance is also boosting the Indians. The Indians drew 549,522 last season and are on a path to top 600,000 this year, surpassing total season attendance for Pacers games. Although the Indians' profit fell below $1 million last year, the team expects to top $1 million this year. I think the public would view public-private partnerships with sports teams a lot more favorably if they worked out as well as the City's positive relationship with the Indians has been and we're not constantly being pestered for more handouts and threats of moving the team elsewhere.