By Kevin Kelley
Except for the one at Progressive Field, all of the Cleveland Indians team shops will close by Jan. 27, including the one at Westgate Shopping Center.
In addition to the Westgate shop, the team is closing locations at Southpark Mall in Strongsville and The Strip in Jackson Township, in Stark County. In the late 1990s, the Indians had nine team shops.
Officials for the American League baseball team said the closings have to do with the increasing amount of sales – both of tickets and team merchandise – that is now done online.
Pricing for team merchandise has become incredibly competitive, said Curtis Danburg, the team’s senior director of communications.
“You can go to any big box store. You can go online,” he said of the competition.
And single-game ticket purchases made at the team shops have dramatically decreased, Danburg said. A few years ago, a quarter of all single-game tickets were purchased at the team shops. This past season, that figure was just 10 percent, he told West Life.
The decreasing margins on both merchandise and tickets made the operation of the stores “not economically viable for us anymore,” Danburg said.
About 10 individuals currently work at the Westgate store, Danburg said. Store employees will have the opportunity to apply for other jobs in the Indians organization, he added.
The trend has been for professional sports teams to only operate a team store at its stadium or arena, Danburg said.
“We were in the minority to begin with,” Danburg said of the team’s outlying retail stores. The fact that previous owner Richard Jacobs was a retail mall developer was a factor in the previous strategy of operating satellite team shops, he added.
Neither the Westgate location nor the other two outlets to be closed will hold any clearance sales, Danburg told West Life. Merchandise will simply be transported to the Progressive Field store, he explained.
The Indians team shop at Westgate opened in June 2010 after relocating from Great Northern Mall.