There has been a lot of debate recently as to why the Indianapolis Colts still have 1,800 unsold tickets to each game this year.
The answers are complex and varied, but disloyalty and disinterest are low on the list.
Phil Richards of the Indianapolis Star did a nice job highlighting some of the reasons recently, but there are more issues than even his fine piece raised.
As Richards rightly diagnosed, the primary reason for a lag in season ticket sales is resentment. As I've argued before, many of the biggest Colts fans are the angriest over the way the team treated Peyton Manning.
The fact is that the oldest Colts fans were the ones who appreciated Manning the most. The people who remember the ghastly teams of the early 1990s were the ones who are the most frustrated over Manning's departure. These fans are not permanently lost to the team, but will be slow to embrace Andrew Luck and must be allowed to express their anger.
There are other reasons for slow sales as well. There are macro-issues involving attendance in the NFL league-wide as well as the economy that have led to many teams facing ticket issues for the first time in years.
Of course, the Colts have done little to help themselves with fans. For years, the franchise treated the preseason with contempt, and this year the NFL did them no favors. By giving the Colts home preseason games in the first and fourth weeks, they created a massive incentive for fans to delay purchasing tickets.
At this stage, fans interested in Colts tickets would be wise to wait until after the preseason to make a purchase. Tickets for the preseason can be had for as little as $3. Only a fool would purchase season tickets now, knowing that they'll be discounted by $140 in just over a month.
Furthermore, the Colts have done a terrible job reaching out to fans who are frustrated with the direction of the franchise. Long known as the most restrictive team in terms of media relations, the Colts have recently thawed toward the Indianapolis Star, but have left most other media outlets out in the cold.
Their recent botching of the release of the blackout news is a prime example of the team disregarding public relations. They've repeatedly missed opportunities to get in front of stories, piling up negative publicity in the process.
The Colts still do not credential online writers, meaning that their fans under the age of 40 are not getting the coverage of the team they deserve and demand.
There's little to no evidence the Colts face any long-term crisis among their fans. Everyone agrees most if not all games will sell out in 2012, and the larger economic issues facing the nation will hopefully soften as well.
In the short run, the team could do itself a huge favor by modernizing the way it relates to fans and by creating a more acceptable policy concerning the preseason.
It's too late for those issues to affect this year, but if the team is proactive, they won't be facing the same ticket crunch in 2013.
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