Believe it or not, the Indians were at one point recently one hell of a good ball club - a juggernaut, even. For about six years you just couldn't wrangle a Tribe ticket at Jacobs Field unless you knew someone. For good or bad, it was the precise six years that I lived in Cleveland. Sure, you got to watch some great baseball on TV - Belle, Lofton, and Ramirez in the outfield, Alomar, Vizquel, Matt Williams in the infield - but the place was banged out every night. In fact up until just recently the Indians held the record for most consecutive sell-outs; 455 straight, in fact, or about 5.5 full seasons. That's right - I leave and seats start becoming available. Awesome.
Anyways, these days thanks to a downturn in the economy and in the quality of play of the Indians, good tickets are, shall we say, available. For the recent game against the Boston Red Sox, which the Tribe won 3-1, there were just over 9,000 tickets sold. Because of the weather over half those seats went unused.
It was jarring to see that stadium so empty. What could it be? Was the team that bad? Were things that bad that you couldn't afford tickets to the game? Maybe the tickets were overpriced. Yeah, that's it. They were still priced like they were contenders. I hopped on the site and took a look around.
Quick aside: Progressive Field, as it's now called, is an absolute gem of a ballpark, very much in spirit like Camden Yards in Baltimore. Comfortable and modern, yet retro-styled, great sight lines, so very different from Municipal Stadium, the oval pile of shit that the Tribe used to play in. One great feature of the new field (I'll call it Jacobs Field because that's what it started life as) was the Terrace Club - a restaurant and bar cut into the left-field foul line, and designed in such a way so as to allow dining in an all-glass area which let you have a good meal and watch the game at the same time. You needed to be a season-ticket holder and shell out an additional thousand bucks to join, and dinner was extra. If you were lucky enough to be greased a set of tickets and passes to the Terrace Club, it was a fantastic experience, a great way to see a game, especially in the cold Cleveland Spring.
Anyway I navigate to the page where the Tribe are hawking their season tickets and discover to my surprise that whatever the problems they had selling tickets, the price wasn't one of them. To persuade fans to become season-ticket holders they are now - right now, if you want - offering several very generous enticements.
For any purchase of season tickets (down to bleacher seats, at the jaw-droppingly low price of nine bucks a seat), the Indians will give you:
1. A free yearly membership to the Terrace Club, current value $900.
2. The rental of a luxury suite for one game, including 16 tickets and parking passes, current value $2,200.
3. A pair of club seat tickets, to give you a taste of that, current value about $200.
4. Depending on what category of seats you buy, a stored-value card with between $2 and $10 per ticket per game, to be spent on concessions.
And most jaw-droppingly, seats in the Infield Lower Box, and "View Box" (The first five rows of the upper section, directly behind home plate) were -- I can't believe this is true -- BUY ONE GET ONE FREE. When I say they are giving these seats away I'm not kidding.
If you are a salesperson, a businessperson, an entrepreneur, anyone who wants to impress anyone, why on earth would you not drop two measly grand on a whole summer's worth of client entertainment? It doesn't matter if the Indians suck (they do). There are a million parking spots downtown, all of which are under $10, even the closest ones. You can get to it from three interstates, maybe five or six exits get you there easily. You can enjoy an evening of rare good weather or spend the game indoors if it's cold or wet and have a good meal. For what you get, I'm shocked more people don't jump all over this.
Now, let's spend just a moment or two talking about the Red Sox and their season ticket policy, shall we?
First, don't bother. I've been on a waiting list since 2003 and I'm still not near the top of the list. But let's just suppose they were available. This is what you get for buying season tickets:
1. tickets to 81 games.
No free games, no suites, no club seats, and for the love of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, no Buy One, Get One Free. If you want to get tickets for the first row of the upper section right behind home plate, a pair of which in Cleveland would cost $2,010, you'd need to pay about thirteen thousand dollars.
Now all Cleveland needs is, you know, a good team.
To close, my favorite Cleveland jokes:
* What's the best thing about being traded to the Indians? No road trips to Cleveland.
* I called the park and asked them what time the game started. They said, what time can you get here?
* You hear about the contest they had recently? First prize, a pair of Indians tickets. Second prize, four Indians tickets.
Hope you enjoyed them. Until next time, please remember that, yes, the Cuyahoga River did actually burn, but only for a little while.