Fifteen years ago, the Cleveland Indians were the poster boys for how a new stadium could revive a franchise and an entire city. The Indians, whose poor performances on the field and at the gate at ancient Municipal Stadium inspired the classic baseball movie “Major League,” opened Jacobs Field in 1994, made the World Series in 1995 and 1997 as well as set a Major League Baseball record for consecutive home sellouts (455). Their success galvanized a city left reeling by the move of the NFL’s Browns to Baltimore (where they became the Ravens) and the usual mediocrity of the NBA’s Cavaliers.
Today, though, the Indians are just another Cleveland franchise fallen on hard times. The Browns returned to the city in 1999 but have enjoyed just one winning season and just fired their fourth coach in that 12-season span. The Cavaliers were annual NBA title contenders with LeBron James, but he took his talents to South Beach in July and the Cavaliers have the worst record in the NBA (8-30) following a 55-point loss to the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday, January 11.
The Indians are just three seasons removed from falling one game shy of the World Series, but they have lost 271 games the last three years as well as lost marketable stars such as CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez. The once-robust attendance at Jacobs Field (now called Progressive Field) has fallen to levels not seen since the pre-“Major League” days. The Indians finished dead last in the American League in attendance last year at 17,395 per game, which, as Crain’s Cleveland Business noted this week, is a remarkable drop of almost 64 percent since the magical 2007 season.
In addition, Crain’s also reports the season ticket base is down to 8,000, the lowest figure since the Indians moved to Jacobs Field. In hopes of boosting that number, the Indians announced a series of offers Friday, January 7 intended to entice fans to return to Progressive Field.
Fans who purchase two left field bleacher seats (at a cost of $1,458) receive free Terrace Club membership, free club seats for one game as well as the opportunity to rent a suite for one game. The Terrace Club membership normally goes for $900 while it usually costs $2,000 to rent a suite.
The Indians have also slashed prices for lower bowl full-season ticket plans, where seats will be up to 60 percent lower than at single-game prices. Season tickets in every region of the park except the bleachers and upper reserved are at least 20 percent cheaper than those seats at single-game prices. The Indians are also offering 40-game plans that are actually for 42 games—tickets to Opening Day and to one game in a club seat are included free.