Indians Must Solve P.R. Dilemma

By Dave DeNatale

In the wake of the lowest attendance in Progressive Field history in back-to-back games for the Indians, the best quote I heard from the weekend came from Travis Hafner:

“It’s up to us to play well and get wins and get the fans excited about the team.”

He’s right of course.  The Indians need to seize this opportunity to energize their fan base right now.  The Cavaliers will not be going to the playoffs for the first time in six years.  The Browns are a giant question mark right now due to the NFL labor wars.

The Indians have the chance to own the sports landscape in Cleveland, at least until the Browns return to work.  While the expectation is that the Tribe probably won’t finish higher than fourth in the AL Central, if they can stay around .500 or so, that would at least show fans that things are improving.

But if the Dolans want to see more people go through the turnstiles, they need more than just better performance on the field.  They have to solve their public relations problem.

All weekend long I listened to fans call into the station answering why they weren’t going down to Progressive Field.  And sure, some said the weather had a lot to do with it.  Too cold, too windy, etc.

But the overriding factor as to why people right now aren’t going to the ballpark is a lack of faith in the Indians ownership.  Here were some quotes I jotted down:

“Why should fans spend money when the Dolans won’t?”

“I am a season ticket holder and it’s tough to get people to accept a free tix. The fans will return when we have an owner willing to spend some money.”

“When the Dolans bought this team they said ” we are building this team around PITCHING….than instead of paying 2 cy young winners we traded them away for as of now…NOTHING.”

Fans are tired of hearing the rhetoric like what Paul Dolan told the Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes back in November: “It’s not the right time to spend in the cycle of this franchise. The spending is deficit spending. When New York and Boston spend, they’re spending from their profits. It’s a riskier proposition for clubs like us to spend. We’re taking a far greater financial risk than whatever it is a large-market club spends on a large free agent. It’s the unfortunate nature of our game.”

Fans are tired of the fire sales at the end of July that has seen C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez, and Jake Westbrook get dealt in each of the last three years.  Especially the cases of Martinez and Lee, both of who had a year left on their contracts when traded.

It’s the never-ending push and pull. Paul Dolan says, “our ability to improve the club is based on attendance.”   Fans say, “look up in the outfield and see that 455 (consecutive sellouts) sign, we’ve invested in you, now it’s your turn.”

Maybe Paul Dolan needs to go the route of Dan Gilbert and get on Twitter.  Mark Shapiro, Chris Antonetti, and Manny Acta have already embraced social media and are tweeting.  Gilbert in particular seems to have found some success with his motivational and inspirational tweets in what’s been a bad year for the Cavaliers.

Or maybe Dolan needs to spend an hour with Tony Rizzo and the gang from the Really Big Show or Afternoon R and R with Michael Reghi and Kenny Roda and try to mend fences with the fans.  But he needs to figure out how to connect with the ticket-buying public.  And fast.

Otherwise the biggest crowd at Progressive Field this summer will be coming to see Brad Paisley.

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7 Comments

  1. So wait, this isn’t the right time in the “cycle” to spend? when is?

    What did they do after 2007? nothing. not a damn thing.

    they consider kerry wood to be a major sign in their “cycle”, does anything more need to be said?

    fans don’t trust the dolans. and why should they, they’ve dealt 2 cy young award winners, a fan favorite in v-mart, another solid rotation pitcher in westbrook, and they have hung their hats on signing kerry wood in FA and keeping travis hafner.

    cleveland fans are like no other, they wrap themselves around athletes more than any town. they are afraid of getting attached to some of these young guys with promise, because they know at some point dolan is just going to have his lackeys ship them out. it’s the truth.

    i support manny acta and those players, but i can’t support what goes on in the front office. i don’t expect a 150m payroll, because i know they can’t do that, but they try and hide behind that as well. they could be doing more. 48 million dollars is a joke. just think how decent this team would be had they spent just 20-25 on a pitcher or two. they’d be quite solid.

    • Thank you SO MUCH for saying that! I can’t agree with you MORE! Nothing will get better with this team as long as Dolan owns it! It’s that simple…HE IS BROKE, and refuses to admit it, and is holding us back because of it. I am boycotting the team until he sells.

  2. I don’t give one ounce of care about social media. It’s pretty clear what the fans are saying and Mr. Dolan still doesn’t get it. In this business, you have to spend money (bring in the talent) to make money (achieve favorable attendance figures). You bought the Cadillac, but you can’t afford the upkeep. Furthermore, you want us (the fans) to pay for an inferior product. It doesn’t work that way. You need to put the cart behind the horse and get it together. There are plenty of wonderful collegiate and high school sporting events I’d rather spend my time and money on in Cleveland.

  3. […] assistance from agencies. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but if you’re going to use the same business plan, year after year, season after season, you aren’t really changing with your target […]

  4. Get on the radio with Rizzo or Roda…yeah, that’ll help attendance.

  5. Seeing as how much the tickets are for the Concert that wont even be a sellout but you are right in your statement.How Dolan can NOT see what the issues are is Asinine and beyond me.It also shows how out of touch he is.One of the main problem was he kept Mark Shapiro in office entirely to long and without much success might i add.a few decent moves but overall not very good.Then after a horrible yr last yr you promote everyone.That doesnt look good at all on you or the team.Th trades recently that have been made have netted us pretty much nothing as of now.The Lee trade to Philly was one of the worst of recent memory.As of now its as bad as the Colon trade was good.I can go on and on.The bottom line is Dolan is out of touch and needs to spend a lil money and better decision making from the GM and himself.Im pretty sure the team could of afforded to spend a few million on a veteran starting pitcher(which is much needed)

  6. With all the money Dolan is making off of shared revenue from the MLB, there is no reason for him to spend money to make the team better. This is stupid though, because Cleveland fans know that there isn’t anything better than playoff baseball in Cleveland (short of playoff football, but it’s been too long to remember) If the Dolan’s would shell out the cash for a good team, they would make a bunch of money with the ever loyal fans of Cleveland. Like it was said in other posts, there is no reason for the fans to invest their time and heart into a team that will be chopped and sold off in a couple of years. The way they build the team is so they have a year to win and after that it’s time to rebuild. We’ve seen expansion teams become better than our team and with ever rising ticket prices, there is no reason for working class Clevelanders to spend their money on a lackluster franchise.


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