INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts enjoyed an on-field renaissance in 2018, winning nine of their final 10 regular season games and snapping a three-year playoff drought.
Now the franchise is hoping for a comeback at the box office.
Colts' home games averaged 59,199 fans last season — by far the lowest total since Lucas Oil Stadium opened in 2008.
The attendance numbers represented a 10.8 percent drop from the inaugural season in the new building and landed the team on a list of 12 franchises that are bleeding fans compiled by financial news website 247wallst.com.
The top four teams on the list that measures average attendance over the past decade in the four major American professional sports leagues all are from Major League Baseball.
The Detroit Tigers sit atop the list with a 41.3 percent average attendance drop since 2008. The Washington Redskins are the highest-ranking NFL franchise in fifth place (31.1 percent drop), and both of Cincinnati's pro teams made the list.
The Bengals (21.4 percent) rank seventh, and the Reds (20.9 percent) are eighth.
The Phoenix Suns are the only NBA team on the list. They rank ninth with a 17 percent decrease.
Unsurprisingly, most of the franchises share one common trait — a long stretch of recent failure.
The Colts are a bit of an outlier after barely making the 10 percent cut for inclusion. Indianapolis suffered just two losing seasons in the 11 years covered by the study and made the playoffs seven times.
But the franchise has seen attendance fall for three consecutive years. The high point at Lucas Oil Stadium came in 2010 when the team averaged 66,975 fans coming off an apperance in Super Bowl XLIV with a healthy Peyton Manning as the marquee attraction.
The previous low point was 2017 with an average of 63,440 fans following back-to-back 8-8 seasons. Lucas Oil Stadium has an announced capacity of 63,000 and can be expanded to fit 70,000 fans.
Three straight non-winning seasons, questions about Andrew Luck's right shoulder and a 1-5 start heavily contributed to last season's drop. The six lowest attended games at Lucas Oil Stadium came last year, bottoming out with an announced crowd of 56,848 against the Buffalo Bills on Oct. 21.
That contest also marked the beginning of the Colts' on-field turnaround. It was the start of a five-game winning streak that propelled the team back into playoff contention.
The final two home games against the Dallas Cowboys (66,654) and New York Giants (61,738) marked season highs and came with Indianapolis in the thick of the playoff race.
A team spokesman also confirmed season ticket sales are up for 2019.
A young and talented nucleus led by second-year all-pros Darius Leonard and Quenton Nelson has raised expectations, and the franchise appears to be in good hands with third-year general manager Chris Ballard and second-year head coach Frank Reich.
Luck was named the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year after throwing for 4,593 yards and 39 touchdowns in 2018, and ESPN recently ranked the Colts' roster among the top 10 in the league.
All of which likely means Indianapolis won't appear on this list next year.