Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Indianapolis Indians Doing Just Fine And Not Asking For Bailouts

The IBJ's Anthony Schoettle picks up on a theme I mentioned in a blog post a week ago about how the Indianapolis Indians minor league baseball team is doing well in tough economic times and probably contributing as much, if not more, to the downtown economy than Herb Simon's Indiana Pacers. Schoettle writes:

Late last September, the Indianapolis Indians stared down the barrel of financial disaster.

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.
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.

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.


Downtown Indy said...

The Indians work hard to earn respect for their product - instead of lazily reminding us we'd be 'nothing without them,' like a couple other local sports franchises do.

Blog Admin said...

I haven't been to an Indians game in several years, but I've been hearing good things about their concessions, and I don't mind parking far away or at IUPUI and walking to Victory Field. I might have to go out and support them sometime this summer.

Downtown Indy said...

We had a company outing there once in a suite. Howard Kellman - their long-time announcer - came down, gave a short talk (he does motivational speaking engagements as a 'day job') then we toured the facility and finally went down to the announcer's booth and checked it out before we settled in to watch the game.

All in all it wsa a very nice time and not expensive.

Downtown Indy said...

The attendance figures just caught my eye. Guess what? More people go to Indians games each year than go to Colts games.

2009 NFL Attendance"

Colts: 532,498
Indians: 549,522

So go one, someone, point out 'the Indians play more games so the numbers are misleading.'

What this means is:

(a) More people are downtown (and available to spend their money at downtown merchants) for baseball than football

(b) The cost/benefit ratio of The Vic is WAY more favorable than it is for LOS

In Return On Investment terms, the Indians beats the Colts 'six ways from Sunday' as the saying goes.

But the Colts get all the perks and special considerations. Despite that, for some reason, the Indians are 'doing well in tough times.'

Blog Admin said...

I also think Victory Field is more poised to have people go out afterward (or before the game) and spend money. You can easily walk there from IUPUI or find parking elsewhere in downtown. Or spend an afternoon at the Zoo and then go to the Indians.

Compare that to LOS, which has a few bars nearby, and that's about it.

And hey, a sports team that uses their facility more times a year is fine in my book. I think it's ridiculous we have these palaces that are only guaranteed to be used a few dozen days a year. And the non-sports events always seem to be horribly underbooked.