Explaining the Cleveland Indians Attendance Problem

One of the biggest things that are talked about when you mention the Cleveland Indians is the word ‘attendance.’ Attendance has been a form of voodoo for the MLB in the last couple seasons, especially last year.

In a YouTube video done by UrinatingTree, he highlights just how bad the attendance problems have been in baseball this past season. Give the video a look as he summarizes just how bad of a problem it’s becoming.

Across the board, the MLB’s attendance went down 6.5 percent in 2018. The biggest culprits for this were teams like the Orioles, who had their sights set on moving their superstar shortstop, Manny Machado, before the trade deadline. The Orioles’ attendance went down 10,000 per game and they offered children nine-years-old and younger free admission.

If you look at the Toronto Blue Jays, you see a franchise that had 11,000 fewer fans at each game in 2018. Their record wasn’t the greatest and they didn’t see the light of the playoffs, but their fan base had been supportive in recent years. Playing in a dome helped them still land at 13th in attedence.

You look at the Miami Marlins, who were abysmal from the start. They had 9,793 fewer fans each game. This can be contributed to the team selling off their better players. This is something that should worry the Indians and make them think for a second before dealing their better players just in order to rebuild.

Taking a closer look at the Indians own division, the American League Central, you see that the White Sox, Tigers and Royals all suffered horrendous drops in attendance. The White Sox had a grand total of 974 people at one game, while the Tigers had 7,392 fewer fans at the games. The Royals are on their way down a vicious decline, seeing 5,792 fewer fans at the games.

Now, when you look at the teams that I highlighted, there’s one thing in common. They aren’t winning and they won’t be winning for years to come. When you look at the last four years, Cleveland has increased their attendance year by year. Cleveland finished 29th in 2015 compared to 21st in 2018. But in the bottom 10 of attendance, Oakland is the only other playoff team that low in attendance.

When you look at the Yankees and Dodgers, arguably the two most popular franchises in baseball, you see that no matter what the record of the team is, they are selling tickets. 

The Dodgers have finished first in attendance in each of the last four years. Their average attendance over the last four years is 46,433. They filled on average 82.9% of their stadium. These numbers seem outrageous when you compare them to the four-year averages of 21,706 and 49.9 for Cleveland.

Cleveland has seen an average of 92 wins per year over the last four years. The Yankees come in with a 90.5 win average and the Dodgers have won on average 94.75 games.

While you may find it difficult at first to figure out why the Indians dwarf in comparison when looking at other cities attendance, the evidence isn’t too hard to find. Cleveland is a small market team, you definitely hear those words thrown around during this time of the year. People go to the Yankees game to talk business or just to catch up with friends. People can go to a Dodgers game anytime during the year and be comfortable considering the LA weather is amazing between April and October. Cleveland, on the other hand, can’t relate to any of those things.

Cleveland misses out on the casual fan, when you go to an Indians game you are more than likely wearing your Indians gear and cheering for the team throughout the game. I personally hate missing the first pitch, but when you look at a Dodgers game, everyone misses first pitch no matter the traffic.

The common excuse is that people don’t have the money to go out and watch an Indians game. Which unless you don’t have enough money at all for leisure activities, this is untrue. Taking someone on a date for an Indians game can be fun and only be $70, which is cheap for most stadiums. 

Cleveland has been among the American League’s best in the past three years, but yet still find themselves at the bottom of the league in attendance. They’ve added star power and they have two MVP candidates on their team, they have two Cy Young candidates on their team. All of this talent but no fans at the games, makes you wonder what the problem is?

The problem is that Cleveland is Cleveland and not New York or Los Angeles. Cleveland has the most wins among American League teams in the last three years yet they still can’t fill 60% of their stadium.

With the recent moves by the Indians, fans are becoming suspect and suspicious of what the team is doing. A horrid outing in the 2018 playoffs has left a sour taste in their mouth and could possibly give the Indians their first decline in attendance in five years. 

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