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04/03/09 3:13 PM ET

Indians ease fans' financial burden

Tickets cut by an average of 3.1 percent from last season

When it comes to team construction, the Indians' front office has been exploring every avenue to build a championship club on a fixed budget.

And in these tough economic times, the Indians recognize many of their fans are working with a fixed budget, too.

With that notion in mind, the Tribe is targeting value-based opportunities for its fans to enjoy the action at Progressive Field in the 2009 season. Be it through a variable ticket pricing strategy with discount prices on lower-profile games, or combo and kids meals in the concessions or the ever-extensive promotional schedule, the Indians are hoping their fans stay educated about all the cash-saving choices available to them.

"We've had to add value all across the board, because we're all navigating some unchartered waters here," said Bob DiBiasio, the Tribe's vice president of public relations. "And value is what will continue to be a driving force for all entertainment-seekers. We think we've put together a pretty wide-ranging plan to take care of our fans and create interest for a team that we believe has a legitimate chance to get back to the postseason."

According to Team Marketing Report's MLB Fan Cost Index, released Thursday, the Indians are one of just 10 teams in the big leagues showing an average ticket price decrease from a year ago. The average price is down to $22.12, a 3.1-percent drop from '08.

That drop is attributed to the value-based ticket pricing structure, which was unveiled last fall. In this unique structure, which is detailed at indians.com/valuepricing, four pricing categories have been established -- Spring Super Savers (13 games in which the best seats in the house are 50 percent off), Spring Value (eight games), Summer Value (29 games) and Prime (31 games).

The idea behind the pricing is that not all home games are created equal. Generally speaking, fans are willing to pay more for a weekend game against the Yankees than they are for a midweek game against the Royals.

"Value-based ticket pricing is truly innovative, responsive to the current climate and true to what we heard from our fans in fan-forum sessions," DiBiasio said.

Fans have plenty other avenues to save. View Box season tickets are available "buy one, get one free," and fans who purchase a Six Pack ticket plan get a bonus seventh game (June 1 against the Yankees) free of charge.

For those who come to the ballpark not just for a good game, but also for some good grub, the Indians are now offering an "ampm All You Can Eat Seats" section in the upper deck, along the first-base line. For $32 a ticket in this section, fans take in the game while chowing down all the hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, nachos and soft drinks they can handle.

Other options with concession considerations include the new Go! Foods healthy menu items available near Gate A in Section 162, and the KeyBank Fun Bunch Four Pack at all Sunday home games. The Fun Bunch plans start at $51 and include four game tickets, four Pepsi products and four hot dogs or slices of pizza.

Fans will be offered combo options when they buy a hamburger, chicken sandwich, chicken fingers, pizza or hot dog. If, for example, you get a burger and opt for the combo with fries and a Pepsi, you'll save 35 percent off the concession price had you bought all three separately.

The Indians have also added smaller-sized concession menu items at smaller prices, with a particular eye on portions suitable for children. A hot dog goes for $3, popcorn goes for $2.50 and a Pepsi goes for $2.75 in these sizes.

"We think families will really enjoy that," DiBiasio said, "so that your little kid doesn't have to buy a 32-ounce pop."

Other kid-friendly additions include the Progressive "IRV" (Immediate Response Vehicle) claw machine in the Step 2 Kidsland Section, located in the mezzanine level near Section 317. For $1, kids of all ages can try to nab a plush toy with the claw, with all proceeds benefiting Cleveland Indians Charities.

The IRV itself will become a featured part of the experience of taking in a Tribe home game. When the Indians hit a home run, an IRV positioned on a platform at the top of Section 101 will light up and shoot out T-shirts to the crowd.

If you want to buy your own T-shirt and you live in the Canton area, the Indians are opening a new Team Shop in North Canton (6698 Strip Ave. NW) on April 8. If you prefer free Tribe gear and novelties, the promotional calendar includes some type of giveaway, ticket deal or special event at 76 of the 81 home games. Full details are available at indians.com/promotions.

Lastly, fans can attend a game and simultaneously help out a good cause, as the Indians are partnering with 13 local non-profit service agencies for the "Fill the House for Charity" initiative. The charities will generate revenue through the sale of discounted tickets for their specific Wednesday home game, and the Tribe will donate $5 from each ticket sold and $1 from every overall ticket sale for that game to the charity. For more information on that, visit indians.com/fillthehouse.

Clearly, there's a lot going on at Progressive Field this season, and much of it is geared toward lightening the financial burden on fans wanting to come out to a ballgame.

"It's truly important to be an educated consumer," DiBiasio said. "That's certainly no different when you're purchasing baseball."

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.