Columbus Clippers thinking crowds, not money, with 'outlandish' free admission offer

The Columbus Clippers don’t know what sort of crowd to expect Monday evening at Huntington Park, but it’s likely to be a better turnout than the typical playoff game.

General Manager Ken Schnacke announced Sunday there will be no charge for admission to Monday’s deciding Game 5 of the Governors’ Cup semifinals against the Norfolk Tides, a promotion he calls a first in the franchise’s 39 years.

Sunday’s Game 4 attracted less than 2,500 fans to the 10,000-seat park, disappointing a home club that drew an average of more than 9,000 in 72 regular-season home games.

“It’s a tough time of year. Saturday you had Ohio State going on, yesterday the NFL season. When the calendar flips over to September baseball becomes secondary,” Schnacke told me. “We’re always a little frustrated, and we want to help the (team) so I decided, let’s see what happens. I’m just trying to create some excitement for tonight. Sometimes, you just have to do something completely outlandish, and this is very outlandish. It’s the first time in 39 years.”

Should the Clippers win Monday night, free admission will continue through the Governors’ Cup championship against the Indianapolis Indians. The series would start with two home games Tuesday and Wednesday at Huntington Park before heading to Indianapolis for games three through five, as needed.

Schnacke said he’s unsure how much revenue the Franklin County-owned team is foregoing by offering free entry as compared to the typical $5 or $10 tickets it charged over the weekend.

Ticket sales for the full season last year, at $4.2 million, made up more than a third of overall revenue, according to records provided by the county. But playoff games are more difficult to predict.

“I don’t really know what the revenue is going to be. It fluctuates,” Schnacke said. “It’ll be enough to pay our expenses – it’s not like I’m giving up six-figures or anything.”

Of course, the club will make money on food-and-beverage sales – although it better hope fans need a pop or a beer to wash down their hot dogs since it’s the usual Monday Dime-A-Dog night.

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