The Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting (based on that old favorite source, “it has been learned”) that even though attendance for the postseason-bound Cleveland Indians was down this year, ticket revenues were up by 20%. How’s that? Apparently the Indians, who as previously noted are trying to be more scientific about their marketing this year, have stopped giving so damn many tickets away for free:
It’s believed the Indians could have drawn more fans this year, but the organization reduced the number of free tickets available through promotions. This way the tickets they did sell generated more actual revenue because they weren’t discounted.
The Tribe’s dynamic ticket pricing system, which is used by at least 20 big league teams, will remain in place for next year. It has drawn criticism from some fans, but the Indians will continue to offer people cheaper tickets as an incentive to buy early instead of expecting to get cheaper priced tickets on the day of the game.
If this strategy really works, it’s interesting from a sports-marketing standpoint — and a fan standpoint, because you’re going to see lots of other teams copying it. But it’s also a valuable reminder that you can’t just look at attendance figures as a sign of a team’s financial health, because that’s just about how many tickets were issued, not what fans paid for them. Not to say that the Tampa Bay Rays are secretly rolling in dough — not until they can cash in on a new TV deal, anyway — but there are numbers more important than turnstile count.