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April attendance, Akron arena and antagonizing alliterations… While We’re Waiting

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QUICK NOTE ON ATTENDANCE: Last night, the Indians announced an attendance of 9,311 at Progressive Field. That was seen as a good thing. That’s because Tuesday’s crowd of 8,848 was the second-lowest in stadium history. Many were outraged. But really, it’s all all right and we will all be OK.

Welcome to 2014, where the Indians are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the opening of Progressive Field as well as their 12th straight season of sub-30,000 attendance. The “honeymoon effect” of the shiny new downtown ballpark is all over. The stadium is now regarded as slightly below average in terms of age and overall look-and-feel.

That’s where life is today for the Tribe. We all better get used to it. Specifically, attendance sucks in April. It’s pretty terrible. That’s how it works for teams in the cold and unpleasant Midwest. In general, attendance also isn’t too hot from Monday-Thursday on any given week throughout the year. That logically spells trouble for mid-week April games against mid-market teams like Kansas City.

But what does it all mean?! Not much. I’ve written about Indians attendance many times before (here, here and here) and don’t really care for writing much more about it. My undergraduate thesis was on minor league baseball attendance, so yes, I’ve analyzed this field and read up quite a bit on the topic.

Again, this segment is just to note that I’m not surprised. The Indians of the late ’90s had an amazing run. That will never, ever be the scene for Cleveland baseball again. The team knows this, for better and for worse, and they’re working on new strategies to make it fun and exciting anyway. Fans should know this too and stop acting so stupidly shocked at every single turn.

ARENA IN AKRON: Exciting news in the 330 yesterday: The city, county and the University of Akron are teaming up for a new downtown arena. For years, as the Akron Zips men’s basketball team got better and better, this was seen as a major need for the university. This plan might actually be creative enough to finally make it happen.

Crain’s Cleveland’s Timothy Magaw has the details: an $80 million, 9,000-seat arena that would be funded by a 0.25% increase in the county’s sales and use tax, which will be placed on the ballot in November. The university has been in some financial difficulties of late, so it was expected they’d have little financial weight. The county would officially own the arena.

It is expected to be located across the street from Canal Park, home of the Akron RubberDucks. The arena also would serve as a new venue space for downtown Akron, which sorely lacks any state-of-the-art facility. If this all works out, it could be really, really neat to see the future development of downtown around Canal Park and the arena, much like Gateway.

WHO IS FELIX SALMON? Y’all know I love me some data journalism and media news. Yesterday’s big splash: Reuters finance writer Felix Salmon is officially headed to Fusion (?), a millennial-focused cable network owned by ABC and Univision.

Salmon explained his move in a post over at Medium. He shared more tidbits in an article in The New York Times.

The eye-catching line that Salmon used to conclude his Medium post and promptly led to a chorus of FASCINATING-esque tweets:

But the core of what I do at Fusion will be post-text. Text has had an amazing run, online, not least because it’s easy and cheap to produce. When it comes to digital storytelling, however, the possibilities — at least if you have the kind of resources that Fusion has — are much, much greater. I want to do immersive digital stuff, I want to make animations, I want to use video, I want to experiment with new ways of communicating in a new medium. I can do all of that at Fusion.

Is text dead? Is it better to be unshackled from the confines of traffic-based revenue maximization? Is there actually a potential for attracting millennials consistently to a cable network’s brand? We’re left with lots of questions. This was a shocker.

CAVS BLOGGERS EVERYWHERE: Red Right 88’s Thomas Moore organized a roundtable with five Cavs bloggers: Brendan Bowers, Demetri Inembolidis, Michael Mayer, Wade Foley and our very own Ben Cox. You should check this out.

CHAOS IN PACERS-LAND: There was a major #WOJBOMB late on Tuesday night: Indiana’s Lance Stephenson and Evan Turner exchanged some blows after a practice last week, reported Yahoo’s Adrian Wojanrowski.

The article noted that “These scrapes aren’t uncommon in the NBA.” It certainly will remind Cavalier fans of the reported altercation during a players-only meeting way, way back in November.

TWEETS OF THE WEEK: I’ve been having fun with this segment the past few Thursdays, so let’s keep it going, shall we? Here are some of my favorite bad, good, amusing and whatever type of tweets from the past week. They’re all over the place. There’s no rhyme or reason for why I selected these tweets. As always, they’re not necessarily endorsements, but I’m just throwing out there for your amusement and comments.

  • “The stadium is now regarded as slightly below average in terms of age and overall look-and-feel.”

    Just curious who regards it as slightly below average. I don’t recall having seen or heard that anywhere. Speaking as to my own personal experience and having seen most of the current ballparks, I wouldn’t consider the Jake to be in below average. It may not be Top 5 anymore, but it’s still easily in the top half.

  • booby

    I was at the game Tuesday. Part of the season ticket package I go in on with some friends. Section 156 Row F. My ticket read 56 and change.

    I talked to my cousin working the ticket booth. Walk up prices for the “good” seats. 114.00

    10.00 bleacher seats were 17 and change.

    Royals for Tuesday night in April when they have sold 8k out of 40.

    They get exactly as many fans as they want.

    They could “fix” the problem by simply saying the tickets are always $17.00 but if you buy season tickets you get a 40% discount.

    dumb dumb dumb….don’t tell me they are 10 and will go up…even when there is nobody sitting there.

    Tell me they are 17 and I get a bigger discount the earlier I buy them.

    Use the carrot and not the stick.

    And they get paid for these decisions?

  • YeahImFromOhio

    Having been to Camden, the Nats ballpark, old RFK, Fenway, Yankee Stadium, and Citi Field, Progressive Field is my favorite ballpark. The food at Yankee Stadium and Citi Field blows all the other places away, though.

  • BenRM

    I can’t do another season of talking about attendance. I couldn’t even do the first two.

  • MrCleaveland

    NOOOOO! NOT THE “A” WORD!!! PLEASE, NOOOOO!!!

  • Garry_Owen

    Moreover, how would a comparison of the Jake to other ballparks impact local fans’ attendance? It’s irrelevant.

  • Garry_Owen

    THEN FAN UP AND GO TO THE GAMEZ!

  • boomhauertjs

    Agreed, I think the Jake is as great as it’s always been, if the product on the field doesn’t always match its greatness.

  • FearTheRoo

    Although an $80 million arena that seats over 9k sounds perfect for Akron. I had hoped they would build it next to InfoCision Stadium, slightly closer to campus.

    Unfortunately I don’t think the Akron arena will pass. As much as the Zips need a new home, the deal seems way too one sided. The city pays and UA benefits without paying a dime.

  • WFNYJon

    At the risk of sounding like an old man, let me stand up a moment for the dignity of text.

    Infographics are wonderful and movies are neat and I love good TV as much as anyone. But in the end we negotiate our existence with words, language, text–in fact, the words we choose when interpreting pretty graphs or talking about lovely TV shows *create* their meaning: audiovisuals are nice *aids* to cognition, but they are not self-explanatory packets of knowledge. If there is one thing I rankle at as the rise of process analytics and big data comes nearer, it is the occasionally implied promise that the thinking will now be done for us. For all sorts of reasons that’s a dangerous assumption, not least because we are forfeiting our responsibility to interpret–an act so intrinsically tied to language and text that I challenge anyone to interpret something outside of language.

    New media’s promise to give us more data with better methodology and more thorough understanding is, well, promising. But none of it happens without the thoughtful introspection of reading and writing and thinking in words and text. Language is what we are, it is how we are. And thank goodness that it isn’t going anywhere.

  • MrCleaveland

    Bravo, Jon. Bravo!

  • This was my exact thought after reading that. Maybe it’s because these days the Trop is the place where I do most of my baseball watching in person, and being a Tribe fan certainly may bias my opinion, but I am always happy to spend a day at the Jake. I think it’s a gorgeous facility from the outside, and I’ve never managed to find a bad view of the game. Sure, the amenities could use some upgrading (though going to Camden. Yards or AT&T Park makes just about any place look behind the times in that regard), but I’d still consider it a superior venue to a good number of parks. If the Jake became Cleveland’s Wrigley Field (though maybe we could do a better job of structural upkeep than they do on the North Side), I would have no complaints. Maybe the honeymoon phase is over in terms of drawing new folks in (sustained team success might help reduce the need for that crutch anyway), but we still have a great place to see a game.

  • Assenmacher?

  • Well done, sir. Couldn’t agree more. And now to show my approval in the most appropriate way

    http://img4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20110625131858/icarly/images/e/e0/0001st50.gif

  • Garry_Owen
  • WFNYJon

    The inherent irony of this appreciative GIF is not lost on me.

    It’s like rain. At your wedding day.

  • WFNYJacob

    It is indisputably below the league average in age: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Major_League_Baseball_stadiums. 11th-oldest with Arlington. So maybe not bottom third, but below average.

    In terms of overall look-and-feel being below average, yeah, I wrote that (quickly and perhaps eronneously) anecdotally based on my knowledge of the MLB stadium environment. Several of the older stadiums are generally more well-liked; among the newer stadiums, Progressive Field isn’t that jaw-dropping.

    To get a general sense after hte fact, I only now looked up a series of links. Here’s what I found from a random sample. I’m sorting them by date. Generally, the Indians are in the bottom half. None rank the stadium in the top 10. That is similar to my anecdotal evidence, although I didn’t share the necessary caveats for me making such a blanket statement.

    Page 2 ranking of all stadiums in 2003: 12th. http://espn.go.com/page2/s/neel/030910.html

    FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver on Yelp from 2011: 16th. http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/29/ranking-baseballs-best-ballparks/

    Based on Yelp rankings in 2013: 26th. http://www.rsvlts.com/2013/10/21/mlb-ballpark-yelp-ranking/

    Grantland’s Jonah Keri on baseball experiences in 2013: 12th. http://grantland.com/the-triangle/ranking-the-best-ballpark-experiences-part-2/

    Athlon Sports’ slideshow in 2013: 19th. http://athlonsports.com/mlb/ranking-best-and-worst-mlb-ballparks-2014#12

    BaseballParks.com in 2013: 21st. http://www.baseballparks.com/MLB1-30.asp

    Stadium Journey in 2013: 21st. http://www.stadiumjourney.com/news/10-21-2013/490/2013-mlb-ballpark-rankings/

  • WFNYJacob

    Age matters to a huge degree. Look-and-feel, obviously not as much and barely just a bit, yeah.

    I think mostly my point was in regards to where the stadium ranks in the MLB environment. It’s not as amazing as some people think it is. For MLB, 20 years is kinda old these days.

  • Garry_Owen

    I still think it’s basically irrelevant in the “Big A” discussion. Locals are either going to go see the Tribe play baseball or they won’t. A shiny new stadium might help, but only incrementally in comparison with the Jake.

    And for the record, this sentence is one of the most mesmerizing things I’ve seen in a long time (well, since B-bo’s comment on the Bernie Kosar business):

    “Look-and-feel, obviously not as much and barely just a bit, yeah.”

    Sublime.

  • Garry_Owen

    Isn’t it ironic?
    Well, no, it isn’t. That’s just bad luck.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Where’s the love for the Columbus Blue Jackets who evened their best of seven series at 2-2 with the Pittsburgh Penguins after a thrilling 4-3 win in OT last night? This team has heart now if they can get Bob to play like he can they just might be able to pull of the upset!

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/0/04/Columbus_BlueJackets.svg/293px-Columbus_BlueJackets.svg.png

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    It never was as amazing as people here thought but it was a significant upgrade to the previous home. It is amazing how at just 20 it’s considered old. These sports leagues have done a tremendous job at getting cities to pay the freight as much as they do.

  • JNeids

    Coincidental? Because no scenario in that song is actually “ironic.”
    True irony: the hall of fame is filled with busts.

  • The_Real_Shamrock
  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Or on your wedding day!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    AMEN!

  • mgbode

    PacBell/AT&T Park (SF’s) has the best ballpark food in the nation. Not only do they have a ridiculous amount of great options, but the garlic/parmesean cheese fries’ scent wafts into the lower bowl and fills you with hunger for them that you must wait to fulfill until between innings.

  • WFNYJacob

    I’ll be at AT&T tomorrow for Indians-Giants. Super excited. Will be my second game at the park.

  • mgbode

    bad luck? no sir, that is good luck. don’t diss the Hindu.

  • mgbode

    perhaps you should read what Jacob posted. he did include some love for those penguin killers.

  • mgbode

    and I am now officially jealous.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    It must be very small downright tiny certainly not representative to what the Jackets have accomplished so far. Who’s Jacob? LoL

  • Steve

    Those fries are manna from the heavens.

  • BenRM

    I do!!!

  • YeahImFromOhio

    I should have said blows all the other places I’ve been to away. I’ve heard that SF’s park has great food.
    Of Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, Citi has better options. That said, I just found out you can bring food into both parks, so I’m definitely doing that from now on.

  • nobody

    For fans, based on the parks I’ve been in (both in LA, both Chicago, Toronto, Milwaukee, and SD), the site line and views are only better than two of them. So, I’d agree with Jacob’s field being below league average.

  • That’s pretty interesting. I just hadn’t ever heard it referred to a below average in terms of look and feel. I guess some people do think that. Funny how varying opinions can be on something like this.

  • Garry_Owen

    NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!!

  • BenRM

    ALL THE GAMES!

  • Garry_Owen

    EXCUSES!!!

  • WELL THEY AIN’T THE CLEVELAND BLUE JACKETS, SHAM!

  • MrCleaveland

    Are you going with a group of your fantasy baseball buddies?

  • WFNYJacob

    I’m not a fantasy baseball guy. Nice try tho. Some friends live out here.

  • MrCleaveland

    Oh, okay. I know a guy who is in a fantasy league and he and some of his fellow owners are flying to S.F. Friday morning to watch the Tribe tomorrow night and then bum around California for the weekend. Thought you might be one of the guys in their league.