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OK, dare I even go here?

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OK, dare I even go here?

Unread postby jb » Sat Jun 30, 2007 10:15 am

http://www.ohio.com/mld/ohio/sports/columnists/terry_pluto/17420224.htm

Just curious....

How much of this piece by Pluto is spot on?

And how much is true that in medium markets with declining populations, it is getting harder and harder to max out with 3 pro sports' teams ? Just not enough sports fan dollars given how they've crushed us w/ ticket prices.

How much is that C-topwn just isn't a good baseball town like Gnati used to say?

How much of it is the question PLuto is afraid to tackle: that while this is a good team of good guys playing v good ball, the borderline fans who aren't the hard core who'd pay to see a 90 loss team, but aren't the casual Caffe Latte Field fans who will never be back except on the championship bandwagon, are just flat out cynical about the ownership's desire to really sacrifice to win it all, so they withhold true fan puppy love and $ ?

How much has the total smoking ban in Ohio impacting things?
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Unread postby Jumbo » Sat Jun 30, 2007 10:59 am

I think there's an Occam's Razor answer to this, that doesn't apply just to Cleveland: it's fairly well settled (I think) that the major attendance impact of winning seasons isn't in the season during the winning, but the season following the winning. Aside from drafting or signing a superstar, it takes some time for the "awareness of winning" to filter through the stages of occasional TV-viewer, to won't miss a game on TV, and finally buying tickets. (I'd be curious to know if STO's ratings have moved upwards at all lately.)

Apparently, there was a decent walk-up crowd to last night's game (noted, that it was a fireworks game) - and with CC on the hill, and (according to weather.com) perfect weather, I think you might see something similar again tonight. (Unless fans are turned off by the fact that the Indians are playing the Devil Rays..but hey, with CC pitching against a last-place team, that's about as good a chance to see a W as you're going to get.)

Anyway:
2004 80-82 1.8M
2005 93-69 2.0M
2006 78-84 2.0M
2007 47-32 ~2.2M (according to the article)

If anything, the only surprising trend was that there was attendance stagnated leading into 06, but then again that was the season of the last-week collapse and the offseason that saw Millwood and Howry leave and the Crisp trade, all of which turned off a fair number of people. After a sub .500 season, a continued stagnation in attendance isn't that unusual.

I do think that 24th out of 30 is a little low, but that given a fanbase that is (rightly or wrongly) slower to get interested in the baseball team, I think you could see that trending upwards over the rest of the season. The bigger test is if the Indians do make the playoffs this year. I think you'd get a better read on things then.

And one other thing...if you always feel the other shoe is about to drop (like, say, the Tigers sprinting out to an 8-game lead by mid-July)...there simply isn't as much of an interest in investing in that first step. And I get that.
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Unread postby ArtGold » Sat Jun 30, 2007 11:34 am

Average Per Game Attendance:

1994 - 35,313
1995 - 39,483
1996 - 41,220
1997 - 42,295
1998 - 42,806
1999 - 42,820
2000 - 42,670
2001 - 39,204
2002 - 32,308
2003 - 21,358
2004 - 22,400
2005 - 24,861
2006 - 24,667
2007 - 23,614

Jacobs sold the team to Dolan in 2000 for $323 million, and Forbes April 2007 valuation for the Indians is $364 million. This is driven by a couple of factors, the general economic conditions and trends for the Cleveland metro market and attendance. The other "poor" clubs have the following purchase prices and current (Forbes) valuations:

Tampa Bay $140 million 2004, current value of $267 million
Florida $158 million 2002, current value of $244 million
Kansas City $96 million 2000, current value of $282 million
Pittsburgh $92 million 1996, current value of $274 million
Oakland $180 million 2005, current value of $292 million
Cincinnati $270 million 2005, current value of $307 million
Milwaukee $223 million 2005, current value of $287 million

You can clearly see that the Indians have the worst franchise appreciation rate per year according to actual purchase price, and that the decline in attendance is causing a financial pinch. Based upon a current value of $364 million, and the attendance and general trend in the Cleveland economy, the future valuation of the franchise appears problematic. It still appears to be somewhat highly valued as compared to the other franchises is similar type of markets or with lower attendance. Based upon the high Dolan purchase price, spending on players appears to be somewhat of a challenge. This assumes you look at the franchise as an independent entity, not including other Dolan income or investments.


Note - Source for franchise purchase price is Cot's
Source for current value is Forbes
Source for attendance is Baseball-reference.com
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Unread postby TribeinLA » Sat Jun 30, 2007 2:13 pm

Good article and very true.

I remember in the early to mid 90's when I'd come to Cleveland and the Indians and the Flats were happening.

Now, the Flats are pretty flat, eh?
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Unread postby psk678 » Sat Jun 30, 2007 2:26 pm

Pluto pretty much hit it on the head, but it takes a numbskull not to see why.

Of course we are never going to have the "Indians of the 90's" again. It was the perfect storm, of sorts. New stadium, the tribe was as hot as a pistol (with loads of young, farm raised talent), and the two other sports teams were non-existent (one literally, the other, well the Cavs were bad, I mean bad in the 90's)

You also have to look at the yuppy fans, all they saw was an awesome team and this shiny new stadium. Plus the fact that we had unprecedented success, making the WS twice in 2 years. That sustained success made the Jake hip and the place to be.

Now, fast forward to the early 00's.... Browns are back, LeBron James enters. Indians are in the dolldrums and are mediocre at best. Regardless of the success the Tribe has, it has to make another WS appearance and sustained winning seasons to come remotely close to the 90's. Which could concieveably happen.

And another point....

This is a FOOTBALL town, no matter which way you slice it or dice it. Baseball would be a second. Followed by Basketball, even with the emergence of the Cavs and LBJ, or just LBJ.
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Unread postby furls » Sat Jun 30, 2007 4:36 pm

Great post and interesting thread, i touched on this topic about a week ago on the front page.

You can clearly see that the Indians have the worst franchise appreciation rate per year according to actual purchase price, and that the decline in attendance is causing a financial pinch. Based upon a current value of $364 million, and the attendance and general trend in the Cleveland economy, the future valuation of the franchise appears problematic. It still appears to be somewhat highly valued as compared to the other franchises is similar type of markets or with lower attendance. Based upon the high Dolan purchase price, spending on players appears to be somewhat of a challenge. This assumes you look at the franchise as an independent entity, not including other Dolan income or investments.



I think what you clearly see by the appreciation numbers is that Dolan overpayed for this team by about 50-75 million based on inflated attendance/revenue projections. Basically, the run of sell outs was going to end one day. I think it just recently "grew" into his purchase price and has probably been appreciating at about the same rate as the other mid market teams.

I
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Unread postby ArtGold » Sat Jun 30, 2007 7:33 pm

I agree that Dolan paid too much, but when you look at the revenue the team was generating the 5 years before he bought it (which is why I went back so far in attendance) you can see the value was perceived on at least a 2.7 million gate. The decline in attendance is the main driver for the value loss, and I maintain that all of the promotions he has done has lessened revenues more than the attendance drop alone would lead you to believe.
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Unread postby jb » Sun Jul 01, 2007 10:15 am

AG - great info. Personally, I think this makes one hell of a statement:

2001 - 39,204
2002 - 32,308
2003 - 21,358


Replay the events why this happened.

Cleveland fans just don't forgive. Long ass memories.
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Unread postby hermanfontenot » Sun Jul 01, 2007 10:22 am

Some thoughts I posted on the Tribe board. This is probably all academic to you guys:

- With the exception of this year, the club has gotten off to mediocre-to-terrible starts and has fallen way behind in the race very early in every season since 2003. That hurts attendance down the line.

- This season’s hot start comes on the heels of a terrible 2006 season, which affects attendance this year.

- Since 2002, the Indians have contended in September in one season- 2005- and that run was marred by a last-week meltdown which, again, affected attendance the opposite season.

- In three straight seasons, the club pulled the rug out from under its fans’ hopes- in 2004, when it collapsed after getting to within a game of Minnesota, in 2005 when it went into the last week of the season ahead in the wild-card race and fell apart, and last year when it was expected to contend and was out of the race by the All-Star break.

- The hot streak of 2005 came after the opening of Browns training camp, the traditional time when Cleveland fans tune out non-contending Indians teams.

- Not making the playoffs in any year since 2001 means there has never been a following-year attendance bump that often accompanies playoff appearances.

- This club has been unable to sustain on-field momentum that drives attendance up: 2004 and 2005 are case studies.

- The decisions not to re-sign Millwood and Howry, as well as the trade of Coco Crisp, negatively affected the club’s perceptions among the fans in the off-season following the most successful season of the new Dolan-Shapiro era. Dolan said he’d spend when the time was right. The time appeared right to fans. He didn't spend.

- Larry Dolan’s name is mud among the casual fans of this city. Flat-out. He has never recovered from the notion, fair or not, that he put the onus for raising the club’s payroll on them (if the fans show up, then we’ll raise the payroll). To a lot of the fans, Dolan was like a restaurant owner that told them they had to eat his crappy food first before he’d take steps to improve it. This was intolerable to them.

Yes, this is a football town. No, this is not Cincinnati or St. Louis, where the fans will show up just to watch baseball. The Indians need to win to draw. They have not won. A two-month hot stretch in 2005 followed up by a last-week home meltdown doesn’t count. A good start in 2007 doesn't count. Division championships and postseason berths- those count. A season like the Tigers had last year would have a VERY beneficial affect on attendance. But you never blame the customers for not buying the product. And the bottom line is, the club has not done nearly enough to bring them in. That’s on the club, not the fans.
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Unread postby furls » Sun Jul 01, 2007 12:56 pm

That Larry Dolan soiled his name with casual fans is a given. He overpayed for this team and when push came to shove, he could not get the level of talent on the field to sustain the winning that he promised and that the fans demanded. This is obvious.

To say that fan attendance does not at least in some way affect the pay roll is ridiculous. Fans and their hesitance to support this team is kind of like cutting your nose off to spite your face. If people don't show up to support a winner, than that tells Dolan that no matter what he spends, revenue will be unaffected.

Then, if he has any business sense at all, he will find the point of diminishing returns (based on talent on the field) and operate at the marginal cost threshhold. That is how I would run the business if the revenue/profit mattered to me.

Dolan has apparently convinced himself that he is content to take the profits every year for putting a .500ish team on the field and the fans are voting for him to continue this practice by not demonstrating that winning draws fans (at a rate that causes revenue to well surpass additional spendings).

While fans are disillusioned, I count myself among this group, not going to the ball park not only affects long term spending and payroll, but is silly because there is currently some terrific ball being played on the corner of E 9th and St. Clair. If you are not willing to go see the Indians because they or their owner have let you down in the past, then I have to question your reasoning as a Cleveland fan. As Cleveland fans, we are not new to disappointment (owner and team induced) and we should understand the importance (and rarity) of winners in Cleveland.

- With the exception of this year, the club has gotten off to mediocre-to-terrible starts and has fallen way behind in the race very early in every season since 2003. That hurts attendance down the line.

- This season’s hot start comes on the heels of a terrible 2006 season, which affects attendance this year.

- Since 2002, the Indians have contended in September in one season- 2005- and that run was marred by a last-week meltdown which, again, affected attendance the opposite season.


All these conclusions run dangerously close to the "post hoc, ergo propter hoc (After this therefore, because of this)" logical fallacy. These same conclusions could be drawn based on lackluster free agency periods, increased fan interest for other Cleveland sports teams, and further complicated by a horrible local economy over the same period. Bascially, there is more competition for ever dwindling entertainment (expendable) income in the Cleveland area.
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Unread postby consigliere » Mon Jul 02, 2007 11:24 am

JB wrote:AG - great info. Personally, I think this makes one hell of a statement:

2001 - 39,204
2002 - 32,308
2003 - 21,358


Replay the events why this happened.

Cleveland fans just don't forgive. Long ass memories.


Yep, good point JB.

Although, what explains the 3K attendance drop from 2000 to 2001? We were still contending, had a top 5 payroll, and inflated payroll to a frachise record $92 (almost $15M more thanany season)......yet they drew 3K less fans that year.

While the attendance drops in 2002 and 2003 show that the fans had lost faith in their owner and were holding a grudge so to speak......one thing is certain, and that is that attendance was already declining before the fire sales even started or were even a thought.
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Unread postby Crash Davis » Mon Jul 02, 2007 11:42 am

IMHO a 3K drop in attendance is not a big drop in attendance. 3K divided out by 81 games is roughly only 37 people per game and could be attributed to a lot of different things as again that's not a lot of people. Heck you could blame it on Bush getting elected and probably get away with it.
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Unread postby consigliere » Mon Jul 02, 2007 11:50 am

Crash Davis wrote:IMHO a 3K drop in attendance is not a big drop in attendance. 3K divided out by 81 games is roughly only 37 people per game and could be attributed to a lot of different things as again that's not a lot of people. Heck you could blame it on Bush getting elected and probably get away with it.


That is 3K average attendance drop PER GAME and not the season. THat's a season total attendance drop of almost 250K, a quarter of a million. I think that is significant.
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Unread postby furls » Mon Jul 02, 2007 12:22 pm

I would attribute that to Jacob's field losing its new park luster coupled with the return of the Cleveland Browns. Every city that gets a new park goes through the same thing...

Attendance spikes, plateaus, then comes back to some higher level than previous (but lower than its apex when capacity was the only limiting factor).

Face it, attendance was going to come down eventually, and five years is about the norm for the new stadium luster to wear down. Camden went eight years before establishing a new equilibrium, the Skydome went five, etc.
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Unread postby Crash Davis » Mon Jul 02, 2007 12:26 pm

Maybe the fans saw the handwriting on the wall as the team was getting old and they knew that new ownership from a year early was bound to make some changes. The 2000 season was the first season that the Tribe didn't make the playoffs since 1993 (no playoffs in '04 when the team finished one game behind the White Sox.)

I know personally 2001 was a horrible year for me economically speaking as that was that year I was a victim of a mass layoff from a company I had worked at since graduating college in '94. I know not only myself but a lot of my colleagues that were also victims of this layoff moved out of the state that year for greener economic pastures.
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Unread postby jb » Mon Jul 02, 2007 2:40 pm

Consigliere wrote:
Crash Davis wrote:IMHO a 3K drop in attendance is not a big drop in attendance. 3K divided out by 81 games is roughly only 37 people per game and could be attributed to a lot of different things as again that's not a lot of people. Heck you could blame it on Bush getting elected and probably get away with it.


That is 3K average attendance drop PER GAME and not the season. THat's a season total attendance drop of almost 250K, a quarter of a million. I think that is significant.


Didn't we fail to re-sign Manny and we replaced him w/ Juan Gone? Grated Juan produced, but we still let a HOFer walk just before he hit his prime over a refusal to go the last mile.

Whereas for whatever reason fans blamed Belle for leaving, they blamed Dolan for Manny leaving.
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Unread postby pup » Mon Jul 02, 2007 4:00 pm

JB wrote:
Consigliere wrote:
Crash Davis wrote:IMHO a 3K drop in attendance is not a big drop in attendance. 3K divided out by 81 games is roughly only 37 people per game and could be attributed to a lot of different things as again that's not a lot of people. Heck you could blame it on Bush getting elected and probably get away with it.


That is 3K average attendance drop PER GAME and not the season. THat's a season total attendance drop of almost 250K, a quarter of a million. I think that is significant.


Didn't we fail to re-sign Manny and we replaced him w/ Juan Gone? Grated Juan produced, but we still let a HOFer walk just before he hit his prime over a refusal to go the last mile.

Whereas for whatever reason fans blamed Belle for leaving, they blamed Dolan for Manny leaving.



Excellent observation JB.

People seem to forget the Indians blew up the team before attentance fell off big time. We were told we would be good to go in 2005. Well, then the fans shold be expected to return in 2005. They were a little slow to get back, but at the same time the org was slow to add a championship piece at the deadline that year. That equals more fans staying away.

This is total chicken/egg debate. Fans have to show to give money to the org to get better players. Fans won't come back until there are better players.

As for this year, to this point the fans have still not returned. Am I surprised? A little bit. I just think it is bad timing with so many people paying mad cash to fill The Q for double digit playoff games. When the Indians have had a good series, or promotion the place has seen solid crowds. When they play the Royals/Rays/Orioles and teams of that caliber there isn't much of a draw.

Finally, if Shapiro adds a piece at the deadline the fans fell they need and battle into August in this race, people will show up. If the fans don't show up at that point, Dolan has a fair gripe. If they fail to add that piece and stay in it into August fans will show up. If they fall short though, without adding anything, they might never come back in full force.

It is the fans responsibility to support the team to the level the organization does. If that means they go on the cheap at all times, so will the fans.
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Unread postby Crash Davis » Mon Jul 02, 2007 4:55 pm

We still have Foulke's $5 mil to work with don't we? I hope this doesn't turnout to be another season like '04 and '05 when we were on the brink of the division and didn't nothing at the deadline to help us get over the hump.
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Unread postby MadThinker88 » Mon Jul 02, 2007 5:12 pm

Crash,

It appears that you want a deal made regardless of how good or ill it bares on this and future tribe teams.

Name me a player that was dealt already this season that Shapiro should have interceded and gotten instead.

It's known that Shapiro has money to spend (thanks to the Foulke retirement), but I would rather see the money spent wisely then like a drunken sailor. If the right deal cannot be made, I would accept using Cliff Politte, Adam Miller (begrudgingly) and others in the bullpen to make it stronger.
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Unread postby leadpipe » Mon Jul 02, 2007 5:26 pm

OK, I'm going to throw another angle out there. I will say that many of the things recapped here by Font, Furls and Pup are very valid, my reason, I feel is a contributing factor if for the fact that "I can't be the only one."

I can't be the only one that doesn't go as much because of cost.

Now, here me out. I understand that the Jake, in general, has some pretty affordable situations, (The bleachers for example are a nice seat and good value) and I'm not short on expendable income. (By this I'm not claiming to be Rockefeller-just that I work, aren't cheap, don't live above my means so I'm short etc. The type of guy that ordinarily can get up and go to a game without cost being a focus) In recent years thoguh the cost has grown to where a guy like me thinks. I used to have access to season ticket package where I took advantage of about 10 games a year. They were field box tickets, I believe 48 a pop. (All I know is it was around a hundy a pair) Long story short is that if you start looking at the cost of what I payed for 10 games a year, food and parking and I look out at my patio now, where I watch many of the games, all of the sudden I see a patio wired for sound and cable, some adorondack chairs, nice outdoor speakers, a fire pit etc. - all for the cost of missing a season or so worth of those games.

I know I'm rambling a bit, but what I'm saying is the cost of going to those games FOR ME has risen to the point where the money seems real enough that I should do something else with it. And, I don't think I'm the only one.

One last thing, maybe I would feel different if I didn't have access to a certain amount of freebies during the year, but I think that is related to attendance as well. There still seems to be many corporate freebies out there compared to years past. That's only a guess.
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Unread postby pup » Mon Jul 02, 2007 5:39 pm

MadThinker88 wrote:Crash,

It appears that you want a deal made regardless of how good or ill it bares on this and future tribe teams.

Name me a player that was dealt already this season that Shapiro should have interceded and gotten instead.

It's known that Shapiro has money to spend (thanks to the Foulke retirement), but I would rather see the money spent wisely then like a drunken sailor. If the right deal cannot be made, I would accept using Cliff Politte, Adam Miller (begrudgingly) and others in the bullpen to make it stronger.


Not to answer for Crash, but somebody (Detroit) is going to make a move around the deadline to improve their team.

Both teams are going to compete for a bullpen arm or two. IMO, the Indians should come out on top of that battle. To improve the team in both an area of need and an area of our biggest competitors need, their are only two names in the entire organization that should not be used: Grady Sizemore and Adam Miller.

This is not to say I want them to get fleeced, but that is Mark's job, to not get fleeced. If Detroit adds their missing piece, which happens to also be our missing piece it had better cost them their Sizemore/Miller. If not, that will be a sad day.
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Unread postby Crash Davis » Tue Jul 03, 2007 8:32 am

Thanks Pup. Your spot on saying Detroit is gonna make a move or two to acquire some pen arms. Jones is not their answer as a stopper and we need to step up and make a deal (not just to make a deal) but to improve the team. Nothing personal to anyone but I just don't see how a Cliff Politte improves your team. Also we not only have guys we can move from the big league club but our farm system is supposed to be one of the best. I keep hearing how great our organization is top to bottom and how much money we spend on the farm system so lets move some prospects at positions we're deep at and get this team over the hump and into the playoffs. We have evolved we just need to tighten up a few loose bolts.

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Unread postby consigliere » Tue Jul 03, 2007 5:11 pm

Crash Davis wrote:Thanks Pup. Your spot on saying Detroit is gonna make a move or two to acquire some pen arms. Jones is not their answer as a stopper and we need to step up and make a deal (not just to make a deal) but to improve the team. Nothing personal to anyone but I just don't see how a Cliff Politte improves your team. Also we not only have guys we can move from the big league club but our farm system is supposed to be one of the best. I keep hearing how great our organization is top to bottom and how much money we spend on the farm system so lets move some prospects at positions we're deep at and get this team over the hump and into the playoffs. We have evolved we just need to tighten up a few loose bolts.

GO TRIBE!


All well and good, and I am certainly on board with that.

But, the players we want to acquire to make a difference also have to become available. I don't want any Kevin Seitzer type trades, which is pretty much all that is available right now. If an A-Rod or a Texeira really do become available, those types of players are the only ones I am interested in.
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Unread postby pup » Wed Jul 04, 2007 1:56 am

But, the players we want to acquire to make a difference also have to become available. I don't want any Kevin Seitzer type trades, which is pretty much all that is available right now. If an A-Rod or a Texeira really do become available, those types of players are the only ones I am interested in.


And that is soemthing even WE can agree on!

There is no point in adding a marginal guy, we have those. Go out and find a difference maker. Bullpen, corner OF, starter even. Get someone that makes every other team say, damn, those Indians are goint to be a very difficult out now.
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