A Youthful Approach to Getting Your Money’s Worth at an Indians Game
Laurel Wilder | On 05, Dec 2013
This week the DTTWLN staff is doing an in-depth look at the Cleveland Indians attendance. While everyone knows the Indians have an attendance problem, how they necessarily got to this point appears to be an explanation with many answers including play on the field, population and economic changes and improvements in technology. Regardless of the reasons, one thing is certain, the Indians have an attendance problem. This afternoon, we examine how young people, 20-somethings, can afford to attend Indians games.
Previous Stories This Week:
From the Perfect Storm to the Indians Attendance Disaster by Bob Toth
Times Have Changed While Indians Attendance Issues Have Worsened by Mike Brandyberry
Indians Attendance Issues Have Spanned Over 65 Years by Vince Guerrieri
The Tipping Point in this Generation’s Attendance Decline by Vince Guerrieri
The Dyamics of Dynamic Pricing by Mike Brandyberry
Why is Cleveland a Browns Town? by Bob Toth
The attendance problem. Young people not showing up to events. Empty seats and the lack of a crowd. No, I’m not talking about a school function or classroom the day before a holiday break. I’m talking about baseball.
I’m part of the young age group that is not quite adult, not quite kid – the unfortunate age group that would rather spend their time hanging out at someone’s house or apartment or at a bar instead of heading out to an Indians game on the weekend.
This, everyone, is what I mean when I talk about the “attendance problem.” People my age aren’t going to baseball games. When I was first approached to write this story, my first thoughts were, “What do you mean I’m in the age bracket of people that has stopped attending Indians games? I’m always at the stadium!” I paused after thinking this, and realized that my thought process defined the entire problem – yes, I was going to a high number of Indians games. But, were my peers? My coworkers? My friends? The answer, I realized, was no.
As a girl in her early 20s, when someone asks me what I’m doing on any given evening, I know the last thing they expect to hear is that I’m going to a baseball game. At work, I get many the incredulous stare when I step into the elevator in the evening in my Tribe gear, heading down the street to Progressive Field instead of over to East Fourth for happy hour. Maybe it’s because I’m a girl, maybe it’s because I’m a young 20-something, but I’m always greeted with surprise when I state my plans. Hardly any of my friends or co-workers seem to attend games as much as I do, and I’m not sure why. They express desires to go to games when I tell them where I’m off to, yet, when it comes down to it, they don’t make the same efforts to get down to the field.
Hence, an attendance situation.
I got to thinking. What makes my age group so reticent to attend Indians games in person? Aren’t we that group that should be relishing the opportunity to head down to a sporting event, drink some $4 beers, and be in walking distance of some great bars for an after-game extravaganza? Downtown Cleveland has all the makings of a perfect place to be to attend a baseball game during the season. Why are my friends not going?
Yes, many people around my age are still trying to make ends meet after graduating from college. They are trying to figure out their full-time jobs and what they can do with their degree, or trying to fit in time to even just breathe amongst their graduate school classes and workload. While they’re saving money and trying to maneuver through higher education, a baseball game may be the last thing on their mind.
And, yes, maybe people my age just aren’t interested in watching a baseball game. But I can attest to the fact that many of my friends – who are part of this “no-show” crowd – are very big baseball fans. They simply do not come to the ballpark. It’s upsetting and disappointing to hear people talk about how much they love the Tribe, but how little they are willing to do about it. It’s easy to make it down for a game or two. Personally, I get tired of going to the same bar with the same people every weekend, and enjoy doing something that’s more exciting and attention-grabbing. A baseball game is the perfect option for that “something different,” for a date, for a group outing.
This past season, I attended about 15 games. While this may not seem like a lot, especially compared to season ticket holders, it was a high number of games for me to attend during my first full season as a college graduate. I finished college last December and only started working full-time in March. By the time the season rolled around, I had been earning a paycheck for a little over a month. Since I graduated early, I started paying my student loans back early. I had to shell over cash for parking and bus fare every month to get downtown for work, plus spend gas money to head from the west side of Cleveland over to the east side to cover the Lake County Captains. This baseball season, I was hardly swimming in money. Yet, I was still able to attend games at the stadium and do so in a way that didn’t leave me broke or disappointed.
I will start off by saying that I lucked out. The job I happened to land in March is with a law firm that happens to have season tickets for the Tribe. If I put in a request about a week in advance, as long as an attorney or client does not need the tickets, the number of tickets I requested were mine for the taking. However, I did not go to 15 Indians games on my employer’s dollar. I only used those free tickets four times throughout the season. For the other 11 games, I was on my own.
It’s not difficult to find tickets in a decent price range. Most of the games I went to and paid for out of my own pocket were with tickets I bought through the Indians website – meaning I was usually paying full price. To me, if the seats are good, I am not going to be a stickler for price. In my mind, a seat in the lower section of the stadium that is selling for around $27 is a good deal. I bought tickets through the Indians for the last game of the season for section 172 and paid $28 per ticket. I wasn’t complaining. If I had gone out and watched the game at a bar, maybe gotten a burger and a beer to enjoy while watching on TV, I probably would have spent between $10 and $15. For $13 or so dollars more, I was able to watch the game in person, four rows from the field. I was able to be part of the giveaways being offered and to enjoy the atmosphere of the stadium. To me, those extra $13 were completely worth it.
For other games I went to throughout the season, I tried to buy my tickets smartly. I looked for special events the Indians were hosting, such as Tribe Social Media Night, where my ticket got me not only into the game, but also food, a coveted Brohio t-shirt, automatic entry into a raffle for Indians souvenirs, and a chance to listen to a talk from front office staff and a player themselves. For only $30 dollars, this was a bargain. It’s events like this that make it possible for young people like me to attend a high number of Indians games.
Throughout the season, I also went to games through the Social Suite (more freebie tickets), sat in the bleachers ($10 tickets) and in the mezzanine level ($25 tickets). By sitting in different areas throughout the stadium, taking advantage of great deals and special promotions and using options to score free tickets, I was able to make it to a large number of games and still have money left over for parking, food, drinks, and even Tribe gear.
It’s not impossible to attend a high number of games at Progressive Field without working with a ticket package or freeloading off friends and family. By strategizing and choosing your options, it’s easy to make it to games and not break the bank. Furthermore, it’s just a fun way to spend an evening.
For my friends and co-workers who did go to games throughout the season, they relied on similar options. My friends hand-picked the games they wanted to go to in order to be able to pay for decent tickets for games they truly wanted to see in person. My co-workers used firm tickets when possible or used options such as StubHub or other third party vendors to score less expensive tickets.
However, the question still stands as to why people don’t attend games when, as is seen, it’s quite easy to make it downtown for a reasonable amount of money. I had one person tell me that parking once he made it downtown was enough of a deterrence for him. Yes, lots close to the stadium will be more expensive, but just drive a little further north of the stadium and you come across buildings with garages that charge only $5 for game parking. Some garages, I found, are even free on weekends. People will spend just as much money to park in lots near West Sixth to go out on the weekends, so why not get the most for your money and park in a lot, head to a game, and then go out for some drinks? You can stay in one lot and have access to all the options you need for a great evening!
The friends I took to games throughout the season hardly went to games on their own. It made me start to wonder – do people my age not go to games because they think other people our age don’t want to be there? Are they afraid to ask because they’re afraid no one else will want to attend, because it doesn’t hold the same draw as going to a Browns game after you’ve been tailgating all morning? I don’t have a clear answer.
I wish this could change those people’s minds. I wish people my age realized how much is truly available to you at the ballpark when in attendance at a game. All young 20-year olds really want is to fit in and be part of something. What better place to start than at the ballpark?
Photo: Chuck Crow/Cleveland.com