Opinion: Why all the empty seats?

Robert Thomas Young

The Cleveland Indians took on the Kansas City Royals Friday night, and this was my first game of the season.

The weather was perfect. The mugginess of the day had faded into a nice warm evening. The smell of popcorn filled the air, and the tribe fans were pumped up. Thousands of people were decked out in Indians apparel to celebrate the day by watching the great American pastime.

I started to think about how I used to follow the Indians. I could name most of the players, and I would go to a dozen games or more a season. Now I go to one or two, and Hafner was the only name I recognized in the starting lineup. What changed?

It was the third inning when I looked around and really noticed the empty seats in the stadium. There were some entire sections with no fans. The whole row in front of me was empty, and I was in the lower reserve.

This was a beautiful Friday night. The air was warm, and the sun was still shining. The Indians have done pretty well this year. Where were all the people? I couldn’t help to think that it would behoove the Indians to fill up these seats, if not for the food revenue alone.

I know there are $10 specials for certain seats, but Progressive Field looked sparse. Is the economy affecting ticket sales, or is it something else? Expensive beer and food doesn’t exactly help, but it was dollar hotdog night. Where did all the fans go?

As we ate some peanuts and pistachios we purchased outside the stadium, we watched Kansas City hit homerun after homerun with the Indians doing very little to come back. However, they’ve had a good season, and everyone loses. There are a lot of games in a season of baseball. My issue is with the turnout.

I loved playing baseball as a kid, and I loved going to games. Cleveland should encourage its residents and its sports teams to come together in a way that is more productive for both.

I don’t see a reason why the Indians can’t reduce ticket prices in order to fill the stadium. Like I said earlier, the food and retail revenues would increase, and it’s not like the team is making any money from the empty seats.

Not only would this make financial sense, it would create more fans and give them a chance to enjoy the Indians. I’m sure that this has been discussed at some point, but I don’t know why it hasn’t been implemented.

While players get traded a little too quickly for me to keep up, I still plan to go to a few games each season. I’m not always happy about some decisions, like changing the name of Jacobs Field, but I still want to see the team succeed, both in wins and ticket sales.

While I often gripe about people being too caught up in sports and not caught up enough in politics or philosophy, I can’t help to think that the experience of going to a sporting event is a good thing for our culture, especially when the economy is pressing people to cut recreational spending.

Hopefully, the Indians will hear the message and reduce ticket prices. And, with any luck, more people will come out from their air-conditioned living rooms and go to a tribe game. This city needs a cheap way to relax, and a stadium full of fans couldn’t hurt the motivation of the players.

Robert Thomas Young is a senior philosophy major. Contact him at [email protected].