Sunday, January 11, 2015

Indy Eleven Attendance Figures Don't Add Up: Stop Believing The Press Releases

Every print and TV news report discussing Indy Eleven owner Ersal Ozdemir's renewed legislative plan to force state taxpayers to subsidize the construction of a new, $87 million soccer arena for his North American Soccer League team, the equivalent of a minor league professional sports franchise, has stated as fact that every home game during the team's inaugural season was a sold-out event with 10,465 in attendance. Here are some examples:
  • "The Indy Eleven drew an average 10,465 fans during their inaugural season," IBJ
  • "Team officials are pointing to its success in selling out the IUPUI track stadium’s about 10,500 seats for all 14 games during its first season as a sign of support for professional soccer." WISH-TV
  • "This time, the Eleven can point to having sold out all of its 14 games at IUPUI's Carroll Stadium, averaging 10,450 fans per game, and having aggressively built itself into a presence on Indy's sports landscape." Indianapolis Star
  • "Team officials are pointing to its success in selling out the IUPUI track stadium's about 10,000 seats for each game during its first season as a sign of support for professional soccer." WTHR-TV
Each of these news organizations is merely regurgitating claims made in press releases put out by the self-serving owner of the Indy Eleven. Do you know what the average game attendance last year was at the eleven teams which make up the NASL? It was about 5,600 per game. Other franchise teams didn't even come close to matching the attendance figures claimed by Indy Eleven during its inaugural season, and some of those teams are in larger markets and have been playing for many years. 

People with first-hand knowledge know for a fact that other than the season opener there were empty seats at most of Indy Eleven's 14 home games. The camera operators of the televised games on WISH-TV stopped panning the stands at Carroll Stadium after the first few games so people couldn't see how many seats were empty. People in the know will tell you the team's attendance success could not have been achieved if thousands of tickets had not been given away for free. Yet the backers of this arena believe the team can support a new arena holding nearly double the number of people who attended inaugural season games. But it really doesn't matter how many people attend the games because the taxpayers will be footing the bill for the 18,500-seat arena regardless of how many people show up for the games.

Would it be asking too much to expect the lousy news media in this town to perform real reporting about anything related to sports other than spouting rosy statements fed to them by greedy sports team owners who expect the rest of us to subsidize their businesses? If lawmakers have an extra $87 million sitting around they want to give away to one of their big campaign contributors, then why don't they think about giving that money to people to help pay for their health care instead? We didn't elect you to use our taxpayer dollars to promote anything sports-related. 

Atlanta Silverbacks
Carolina RailHawks
FC Edmonton
Fort Lauderdale Strikers
Indy Eleven
Jacksonville Armada
Minnesota United
New York Cosmos
Ottawa Fury
San Antonio Scorpions
Tampa Bay Rowdies


Anonymous said...

How did State Rep. Tim Brown get compromised? He won't even allow any serious questions to be raised about it this idiotic idea. He's not the lawmaker he used to be before he became chairman of Ways & Means.

Anonymous said...

Funny you mentioned that average.

I was just looking up the Butler Bowl which holds 5,700.

That would be a perfect spot for the Eleven to play.

Anonymous said...

It's not about the attendance, what you need to understand is :

1. The teams owner (Ozdemir) , will use his own construction company to build the facility(thus making $).
2. After the facility is built, Ozdemir will then be eligible for additional taxpayer $, because the powers-that-be, cannot publicly acknowledge that they supported a failure (note Pacer's CIB payments).
3. If he is given the same type of deal as the Pacers / Colts Owner, he will be given all gate receipts, for whatever event is held at the facility.......

Sweet deals, it literally pays (one way or another)to be a sports team owner in Indianapolis.

The return on political contributions is logarithmic, better than the loaves and fishes.

Gary R. Welsh said...

They've already said the arena will become the property of the Capital Improvement Board, and we know what has become of every other sports facility that has been managed by the CIB.

Anonymous said...

For reference, Victory Field cost 20 million to build in 1996, which is 30 million today. The CIB paid for half of the costs and the Indians paid the rest. Sine the completion of the stadium, the Indians have paid for upgrades to the stadium, unlike other teams in this city.

Now the Eleven are asking for 80 million for a new stadium, yet somehow the best minor league park in the country cost less than half of that to build. Of course, this post questions the Elevens actual ticket sales. I actually believe that the team has been successful in promoting themselves and has a good following. Even if you give them the benefit of the doubt, inaugural seasons usually have the best attendance. However, to believe the Elevens' backers, you have to believe that a minor league soccer team will essentially double their current attendance and draw more fans on a nightly basis than an NBA team. Give me a break.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, anon. 5:51, but it appeared that Indy Eleven's games were cutting into attendance at Indians games when they were playing at the same time, which I think is unfortunate given the contribution the Indians franchise has made to the city over many decades.

Anonymous said...

Indy 11 needs to pack it's bags and find a sucker somewhere else.

Why would we fund soccer when we have a fancy Cricket field?

Anonymous said...

Nice work finding the attendance stats for teams in similar markets. A few months ago I read stats about what teams such as those paid for their stadiums... I don't recall any price tags that were close to $87M. I'm not a soccer fan but I do think having a minor league team will benefit the city.
Everyone reading this blog knows Ozdemir will eventually get a stadium. He plays the game too well and politicians here love to brag about being a "sports town". Our only hope is to drive the conversation away from $87M. Let's demand our politicians make his team prove itself viable over at least a few years. Ozdemir can't give away free tickets forever.
The team will never come close to utilizing 17,000 seats. They may have good attendance on weekends but they will never match the Indians' numbers. It's soccer, not baseball. And a half empty stadium makes the team look bad. Ozdemir knows this. He will end up building a stadium with 6,000 or so seats, a few luxury boxes, picnic areas, etc, creating a similar experience to what the Indians offer. He's asking for $87M but will settle for much less, say 15-20, because he knows that's all he really needs.

Flogger said...

Our local Media has long subscribed to Press Release and Copy and Paste Journalism.

An important question raised is what was the actual paying attendance at each game??? Our Local Mega-Media cannot seem to find the intestinal fortitude to ask that question.

Just like during the age of the old Soviet Union when the Media there dutifully reported the increase in tractor production at some plant in Kaliningrad without questioning the source or accuracy. Our "Free Press" without question reports as a fact the attendance figures for the Indy Eleven provided by the Indy Eleven. Our Media asks no questions.

Further our Mega-Media never points out or uses the word Subsidies when discussing all the tax dollars diverted to Professional Sports in this City. The Corporate Welfare is categorized as an Investment. I have Investments in Stocks and Mutual Funds. I receive a statement each quarter on my Return on my Investment. No such statement is ever provided to the Tax Payers. Indeed the Profit and Loss Statements for Colts and Pacers are redacted from Public Scrutiny.