Despite Tough Spring, Indianapolis Remains In Attendance Race

The defending attendance champions might be down after a challenging start to the season, but they are not out of the running just yet.

The Indianapolis Indians topped the minors last season by averaging 9,159 fans per game but saw their chances of repeating take a significant hit during a cold and miserable month of April this season. The International League franchise has slowly and steadily chipped away at the lead held by the Charlotte Knights, Round Rock Express and Nashville Sounds, moving up from sixth place last week to fourth place in the current attendance standings.

Indianapolis Indians Victory Field
Victory Field/Credit: MiLB.com

Through Sunday’s games, the Indians were averaging 8,229 fans per game at Victory Field, trailing Charlotte (8,857), Round Rock (8,848) and Nashville (8,450). While the odds of closing the gap between the top three teams remain long—the Indians are currently about 25,000 fans off of their total from last season—a recent homestand in which the team averaged 10,423 fans per game has put them back in the running.

The Indianapolis Indians have been attracting big crowds in July.

“Certainly having a July 4th home game, which has been a sellout for us every year that we’ve been at Victory Field, helps but that number is about what we expect to average at this point of each season,” Indianapolis President and General Manager Randy Lewandowski wrote in an email. “We use the 10,000 threshold as a bit of a barometer as we measure crowd sizes and averages once we get past April.”

Like many teams across the Midwest and Northeast, April is when things went wrong for the Indians. While Indianapolis did not lose any openings during the worst spring the minors have endured in 11 years, they played through unseasonably cold temperatures—even for a region that is used to brisk weather.

Indianapolis ranked among the coldest ballparks in April, with average gameday temperatures at just 49.8 degrees for the month. The team’s opening homestand were played in temperatures of 42 degrees or lower and they reached 60 degrees just three times that month.

“Tough conditions for the players and the fans for sure, which included accumulating snow on Opening Night (which was a first for me in 25 seasons),” Lewandowski wrote in an email. “And overcoming a poor April is tough, but is easier to do than overcoming any other month of the season being less than average.”

Playing at Victory Field also eases the pain a bit. Though not among the newest ballparks in the minors, the Indians’ home remains among the sport’s best. Known for being spotlessly clean and featuring a friendly and accommodating gameday staff, Indianapolis placed sixth in my most recent ranking of the best ballparks in the minors.

“Anytime you can lead your industry in an area that is as measurable as attendance, yes it carries some importance,” Lewandowski replied when asked about the importance of topping the minors in attendance. “But we really work hard at and focus on our internal goal-setting and have always set high expectations for ourselves. We know there are a lot of great operators throughout MiLB and have been proud and fortunate to lead that group the last couple of seasons.”

Top 25 Attendance Leaders

Minor League Baseball Attendance Leaders

Complete Minor League Baseball Attendance

Team Total Openings Average
Charlotte Knights 371,985 42 8,857
Round Rock Express 433,554 49 8,848
Nashville Sounds 371,781 44 8,450
Indianapolis Indians 395,005 48 8,229
Lehigh Valley IronPigs 394,448 48 8,218
Columbus Clippers 326,449 40 8,161
Dayton Dragons 382,947 49 7,815
Albuquerque Isotopes 343,601 44 7,809
El Paso Chihuahuas 362,193 48 7,546
Sacramento River Cats 361,345 48 7,528
Durham Bulls 373,388 51 7,321
Buffalo Bisons 289,788 40 7,245
Frisco RoughRiders 306,843 45 6,819
Iowa Cubs 306,357 45 6,808
Oklahoma City Dodgers 298,513 44 6,784
Toledo Mud Hens 297,391 44 6,759
Louisville Bats 328,635 51 6,444
Birmingham Barons 262,437 43 6,103
Vancouver Canadians 85,174 14 6,084
Salt Lake Bees 266,487 44 6,057
Fresno Grizzlies 271,160 45 6,026
Rochester Red Wings 223,295 38 5,876
Richmond Flying Squirrels 239,418 41 5,839
Hartford Yard Goats 279,175 49 5,697
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders 261,167 46 5,678
Pawtucket Red Sox 249,724 46 5,429
Portland Sea Dogs 211,745 39 5,429
Tulsa Drillers 245,301 46 5,333
Reading Fightin Phils 255,345 48 5,320
Brooklyn Cyclones 84,596 16 5,287
Fort Wayne TinCaps 241,835 46 5,257
Memphis Redbirds 228,368 44 5,190
West Michigan Whitecaps 228,309 44 5,189
Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp 232,466 45 5,166
Spokane Indians 96,462 19 5,077
Norfolk Tides 231,201 46 5,026
Omaha Storm Chasers 211,074 43 4,909
Greenville Drive 213,936 44 4,862
New Hampshire Fisher Cats 198,750 41 4,848
Springfield Cardinals 222,963 46 4,847
Kane County Cougars 193,767 40 4,844
Reno Aces 217,841 45 4,841
Akron RubberDucks 212,972 44 4,840
Corpus Christi Hooks 231,824 48 4,830
Tacoma Rainiers 231,620 48 4,825
Trenton Thunder 245,941 51 4,822
Greensboro Grasshoppers 236,010 49 4,817
Las Vegas 51s 232,234 49 4,739
San Antonio Missions 215,281 46 4,680
Tennessee Smokies 224,573 48 4,679
Lakewood BlueClaws 187,888 41 4,583
South Bend Cubs 228,667 50 4,573
Arkansas Travelers 191,120 43 4,445
Charleston RiverDogs 199,297 45 4,429
Northwest Arkansas Naturals 199,187 45 4,426
Lexington Legends 194,667 44 4,424
Pensacola Blue Wahoos 189,231 44 4,301
Winston-Salem Dash 204,398 48 4,258
Lansing Lugnuts 194,032 46 4,218
Altoona Curve 184,847 44 4,201
Augusta GreenJackets 175,338 43 4,078
Midland RockHounds 179,015 44 4,069
New Orleans Baby Cakes 186,111 46 4,046
Harrisburg Senators 176,877 44 4,020
Frederick Keys 177,489 45 3,944
Columbia Fireflies 177,005 45 3,933
Hudson Valley Renegades 42,361 11 3,851
Syracuse Chiefs 144,507 38 3,803
Potomac Nationals 164,868 44 3,747
Wilmington Blue Rocks 168,174 45 3,737
Tri-City ValleyCats 55,998 15 3,733
Colorado Springs Sky Sox 152,452 41 3,718
Montgomery Biscuits 160,786 45 3,573
Ogden Raptors 62,809 18 3,489
Bowie Baysox 147,975 43 3,441
Boise Hawks 48,125 14 3,438
Aberdeen IronBirds 61,847 18 3,436
Hillsboro Hops 54,696 16 3,419
Chattanooga Lookouts 160,415 47 3,413
Eugene Emeralds 54,338 16 3,396
Gwinnett Stripers 131,531 39 3,373
Binghamton Rumble Ponies 131,381 40 3,285
Lowell Spinners 35,984 11 3,271
Lake Elsinore Storm 147,707 48 3,077
Wisconsin Timber Rattlers 121,921 40 3,048
Peoria Chiefs 138,927 46 3,020
Delmarva Shorebirds 132,689 45 2,949
State College Spikes 50,055 17 2,944
Mahoning Valley Scrappers 46,625 16 2,914
Myrtle Beach Pelicans 130,306 45 2,896
Everett AquaSox 46,093 16 2,881
Lake County Captains 120,077 42 2,859
Idaho Falls Chukars 51,425 18 2,857
Quad Cities River Bandits 129,753 46 2,821
Pulaski Yankees 42,159 15 2,811
Inland Empire 66ers 131,662 47 2,801
Carolina Mudcats 125,455 45 2,788
Billings Mustangs 47,162 17 2,774
Erie SeaWolves 121,914 44 2,771
Clearwater Threshers 125,909 46 2,737
Stockton Ports 127,617 47 2,715
Salem Red Sox 115,681 43 2,690
Bowling Green Hot Rods 115,464 43 2,685
Asheville Tourists 105,455 40 2,636
Tri-City Dust Devils 28,354 11 2,578
Biloxi Shuckers 109,672 43 2,551
Grand Junction Rockies 32,865 13 2,528
Johnson City Cardinals 29,971 12 2,498
Rancho Cucamonga Quakes 117,211 48 2,442
Connecticut Tigers 43,717 18 2,429
Great Lakes Loons 99,146 41 2,418
Rome Braves 98,392 42 2,343
Mississippi Braves 111,723 48 2,328
Modesto Nuts 104,688 47 2,227
Vermont Lake Monsters 26,355 12 2,196
Missoula Osprey 21,841 10 2,184
Lancaster JetHawks 101,806 47 2,166
West Virginia Black Bears 25,927 12 2,161
Cedar Rapids Kernels 103,081 48 2,148
Daytona Tortugas 84,854 42 2,020
Staten Island Yankees 36,330 18 2,018
San Jose Giants 94,720 48 1,973
Williamsport Crosscutters 25,347 13 1,950
Fort Myers Miracle 80,905 43 1,882
Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 26,202 14 1,872
West Virginia Power 79,287 43 1,844
Down East Wood Ducks 82,641 45 1,836
Hickory Crawdads 79,422 44 1,805
Visalia Rawhide 84,161 48 1,753
Lynchburg Hillcats 72,148 42 1,718
Charlotte Stone Crabs 67,324 40 1,683
Great Falls Voyagers 26,827 16 1,677
Jackson Generals 77,563 47 1,650
Clinton LumberKings 79,001 48 1,646
Greeneville Reds 21,196 13 1,630
St. Lucie Mets 71,003 45 1,578
Orem Owlz 17,574 13 1,352
Auburn Doubledays 16,726 13 1,287
Bradenton Marauders 58,349 47 1,241
Mobile BayBears 50,550 41 1,233
Danville Braves 15,873 13 1,221
Burlington Royals 16,386 14 1,170
Tampa Tarpons 51,692 45 1,149
Kannapolis Intimidators 44,699 40 1,117
Hagerstown Suns 37,728 37 1,020
Kingsport Mets 15,821 16 989
Palm Beach Cardinals 40,318 41 983
Lakeland Flying Tigers 39,345 41 960
Jupiter Hammerheads 38,640 43 899
Burlington Bees 33,853 40 846
Batavia Muckdogs 12,344 15 823
Helena Brewers 8,777 11 798
Princeton Rays 8,647 11 786
Bristol Pirates 7,724 10 772
Beloit Snappers 28,547 39 732
Bluefield Blue Jays 10,901 15 727
Florida Fire Frogs 26,795 40 670
Elizabethton Twins 5,647 9 627
Dunedin Blue Jays 22,354 44 508
Buies Creek Astros 15,990 46 348

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