Commentary

Cleveland Indians Add Special (Non-Virtual) Area for Social Media Fans

Social media just seems to lend itself especially well to certain sub-cultures, and sports fandom is one of these sweet spots: there is a lot of text, photos, and video to share, comment on, and argue about; there's the shared TV viewing experience; and then of course the actual communal event of gathering with thousands of other fans in a stadium.

The Cleveland Indians, one of the more forward-thinking sports teams when it comes to social media, is recognizing and encouraging the nexus between social media and game attendance with the creation of a new "social media suite" at Progressive Field, where the biggest social media users can congregate to watch games together from a privileged position.

The suite -- which replaces an earlier version, the Tribe Social Deck -- is available by invitation only; the invitations are issues on a game-by-game basis, and I'm imagining the likelihood of invitation corresponds to how prolific your Cleveland Indians social media fandom is. The Indians are also using MLB.com's At Bat 11 app to enable fans to check in at the stadium, making them eligible for discounts, promotions, and other special offers.

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Last but not least, the Indians are also introducing a new group-buying social media ticket offer: fans can share the special ticket offer with other fans through Facebook and Twitter, getting a better discount as more people sign up. ESPN recently ranked the Cleveland Indians among "MLB's most Twitter-friendly teams."

The team hopes all this will give its attendance a shot in the arm: the Indians were last in attendance among major league teams last season, with just under 1.4 million tickets sold.  Baseball in general could use some help to shore up flagging attendance numbers: total attendance at major league stadiums has declined from 79.5 million in 2007 to 73.1 million last year.

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