Will Edwin Encarnacion Boost The Cleveland Indians Attendance?

Jan 5, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Newly acquired Cleveland Indians player Edwin Encarnacion speaks to the media during a press conference at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 5, 2017; Cleveland, OH, USA; Newly acquired Cleveland Indians player Edwin Encarnacion speaks to the media during a press conference at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

The combination of Edwin Encarnacion and a contending Cleveland Indians team, should help attendance figures at Progressive Field in 2017.

The defending AL champs ranked No. 28 in attendance last season. There’s 30 MLB teams. This is troublesome considering the Indians were in contention all season, posted a franchise best 14-game winning streak.

Don’t let the low numbers fool you, though. Clevelanders loves them some baseball. Tribe fans had Progressive Field rockin’ all throughout the playoffs. The crowds conjured up memories of the Indians incredible run of selling out the ballpark 455 times from 1995-2001.

Now, that the Indians won the pennant, came within one game of winning the World Series, boast one of the game’s best young players in Francisco Lindor and signed big free-agent slugger, Edwin Encarnacion, the attendance needle has to move a little, doesn’t it?

Encarnacion certainly has reason to become a fan favorite. After Oakland tried to steal the slugger with a two-year, $25 million contract, the Indians offered the 34-year-old attendance boosters to sweeten his deal.

EE’s agent, Paul Kinzer, said this was one way the two sides “bridged the gap” on a deal.

Encarnacion would earn bonuses of $150,000 each when the Indians reach 2 million, 2.15 million, 2.3 million, 2.5 million and 2.75 million in home attendance. He can make another $250,000 for 3 million butts in the seat.

The Indians, as you’d expect, would be happy to pay the man.

The club hasn’t drawn 2 million fans since the 2008 campaign. If you’ll recall, the Tribe was coming off an AL Central title in 2007, and had a 3-1 lead on the Boston Redsox in the ALCS.

Ever since then, the community’s been hesitant to support the Tribe at the box office. Fan interest hasrecained high, though. The Indians are among the highest rated teams in baseball’s regional ratings. People just weren’t turning out.

Encarnacion, along with the winning the culture established by Terry Francona, should change that.

Tito’s never had a losing record in his four years as manager. He’s made the postseason twice.

Now he’ll return one of the best rotation’s in the AL, a dominant bullpen, and a lineup, which if you look at 1-6 in the batting order, could be downright scary.

Meanwhile, Encarnacion brings the star factor to Cleveland. Chicks just don’t dig the long ball. Everybody does. Home runs are fun. Fans love coming out and seeing athletes do the super-human, like launching a baseball 400-feet on a regular basis.

Mike Napoli kind of showed this last season, although it wasn’t reflected in the attendance. Entering Spring Training, Tribe fans though of him as the team’s latest lottery ticket. Maybe he’d be good, maybe he wouldn’t. No one expected him to jack a career high 34 homers. When it became clear he was the slugger the fan base desperately craved, a movement began. A catchphrase was born, and an ungodly amount of “Party at Napoli’s” t-shirts were sold.

When Encarnacion started his five-year run of mashing, the Blue Jays were drawing 1.9 million fans. In his last season, Toronto drew 3.4 million.

“…Well, if Edwin contributes to that, then we should be rewarded for it,” Kinzer said.

Encarnacion wasn’t solely responsible. Jose Bautista was hitting moon shots, too. The point is that Blue Jays baseball was fun.

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Indians fans are already anticipating the excitement that awaits at the ballpark.

From when the Encarnacion signing news broke, to Jan. 5, the Indians sold 600 full season-ticket equivalents, according to Crain’s Cleveland’s Kevin Kleps. These are the “six-packs” and “20-game” packages the Tribe markets. For example, if the Indians move four 20-game packages, they count that as one season ticket.

The Indians have sold 10,800 full season-ticket equivalents–“about 2,100 ahead of 2016 and 4,800 better than 2012. Their best total since 2009),” according to Kleps.

As previously noted, the Indians last drew 2 million people in 2008. That year, they sold 15,000 full season-ticket equivalents. There’s still a lot of time before Opening Day, and the Tribe will likely add more season ticket holders before the first pitch.

Next: Early Look At The Tribe's 2017 Lineup

The Indians will play in front of more people in 2017. People are excited about the team. The community got to identify with the club’s personalities en route to the franchise’s run to the World Series. Encarnacion’s home runs, along with prospect of watching a World Series contender, will only boost the walk-up attendance numbers this season.