Yesterday I posted a story (Dolan Family: Lessons From Bill Veeck on Building Attendance) which discussed how Bill Veeck described how a team should operate to draw fans. He described what should be done in terms of what a team should not do. This description of what a team should not do is the narrative, fair or not, most often used to describe how Larry Dolan has gone about the marketing of the Indians under his ownership.
I had planned on elaborating more on the Veeck strategy but wanted to see the reaction from the original story. The reaction received was that there was not a gap between Larry Dolan and the fans and that winning will cure all ills. The attendance increase of 2011 was proof positive of that point of view. Another popular opinion was that Dolan needs to step up and spend money to get fans to believe he is serious about contending.
Moving forward it is impossible to agree that there is not a disconnect between Larry Dolan and the fan base. Tony Lastoria of Sports Time Ohio and Indians Prospect Insider detailed the gap between Dolan and the fans (even after the rise in attendance of 2011) this way:
It is no secret that there is a huge disconnect between Indians owner Larry Dolan and the fans. He is viewed by many fans as “cheap” and a “liar” and a lot of people simply refuse to get over his decisions to tear down the team not once, but twice during his tenure as owner. This town holds grudges and is not about handing out forgiveness so freely. Larry Dolan made his own bed, and once you make it in this town the way he has, it pretty much stays that way forever. (Indians need to give the fans reasons to support them)
The Cleveland Indians have 100 years of history and a beautiful stadium in a prime location. and I believe that winning will ultimately get the fans to return to Progressive Field. But I am not so certain that with increased attendance and winning that the fans of Larry Dolan will change to the same degree. I do not know if the fans will come to Progressive Field when they aren't winning--while they are in the process of building a winner. That is the area that Bill Veeck understood to be of paramount importance as we will see in his own words after the jump.