I missed it at the time (thanks to Roldo Bartimole of the Cleveland Leader for pointing it out), but the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Brent Larkin wrote a column last week worrying about the Indians‘ crappy attendance despite being in a wild-card race, and hinted that the team could move if it doesn’t improve:
If this is the new normal, then another crisis over the Indians future here is inevitable.
It won’t happen soon. The team’s lease at Progressive Field doesn’t expire for a decade (though 1995 taught us that stadium leases can be worthless). And it will never happen while the Dolans own the team.
But if attendance remains in the tank, eventually it’ll happen.
Just as it happened here throughout the 1960s, when Seattle, New Orleans and Tampa all tried — and at times came perilously close — to steal the team. And just as it happened in 1990, when baseball’s commissioner came to town and all but guaranteed that if voters rejected the “sin tax” to build Gateway, the Indians eventually would move.
Larkin contrasted the Indians’ lousy attendance (28th in the league, ahead of only the two Florida teams) with that of the Minnesota Twins, who are terrible this year but play in a new sta — hey, wait a minute, don’t the Indians play in a nearly new stadium, too? One that was lauded for having turned the team (and the city) around when the Indians sold out 455 straight games from 1995 to 2001?
Larkin doesn’t actually say that the Indians need a new stadium (again), just that they need to be more “profitable” somehow. And as Bartimole notes, Cuyahoga County residents could soon be asked to extend the sin tax that paid for the Indians’ stadium — and use it for future major improvements for the Indians, Browns, and Cavaliers. Or maybe it would be simpler just to tax beer drinkers and give the money straight to the Indians owners to boost their profits and keep them happy — all the other kids are doing it.