Apart from players and coaches, perhaps no one appreciates a capacity home crowd more than Kip Brownfield.
After all, he earns a living making sure the Indianapolis Colts play in front of one every time they’re in Lucas Oil Stadium.
An integral part of that effort for 16 years, Brownfield is now the man in charge of it. Recently promoted from director of ticket sales to senior director of that department, he oversees the ongoing task of ensuring the Colts truly have a 12th-man advantage every time they play at home.
That means filling suites and club seats in addition to exhausting the annual supply of season tickets and single-game tickets. The Colts have played in front of sellouts, dating to the RCA Dome days, for nine straight years.
Brownfield expects the trend to continue in 2013 and beyond.
The Brownfield File
Name: Kip Brownfield
Position: Senior director of ticket sales for the Indianapolis Colts
Years with the franchise: 16
High school: 1986 Indian Creek graduate; played basketball, golf and tennis; scored 1,040 career points on the varsity basketball team; was Indian Creek’s career scoring leader until 2004; was the Daily Journal’s Johnson County Player of the Year in 1986; was a three-time First Team All-County selection; is a member of the Indian Creek Hall of Fame.
College: University of Southern Indiana; played basketball for four seasons; has bachelor’s degree in business administration
Family: Wife, Tina; couple have two daughters, Malea, 12, and Makaylan, 9
“Pretty much everything we do, we do for our fans. It’s all about our fans,” said Brownfield, a lifelong Trafalgar resident who has worked in ticket sales since joining the Colts in 1998 — the same year they drafted Peyton Manning. “We have the best 12th man, I believe, in the league.
“They’ve been so vital in all the victories that we’ve had over the years.”
Brownfield has seen plenty of those during his 16 years with the franchise. He came on board on the eve of a renaissance that began with Manning and continues with Andrew Luck. Winning seasons and playoff appearances have been the norm.
So have sellouts.
Brownfield, who was first hired as a ticket sales account manager, has been part of a staff that has seldom had tickets to spare. The most recent time the Colts played at home in front a non-sellout crowd was Sept. 21, 2003, against Jacksonville in the RCA Dome.
The Colts have never played in front of anything but capacity crowds at Lucas Oil Stadium, which seats 62,404. Since its opening in 2008, crowds have averaged 65,000-plus, a figure not expected to shrink in light of last year’s success.
Behind the talented right arm of new quarterback Andrew Luck and the inspired play of a host of young players, the Colts — who where 2-14 the previous year — greatly exceeded expectations by finishing 11-5 and reaching the playoffs. They did it despite then-first-year coach Chuck Pagano’s well-documented season-long battle with leukemia.
High school success
With Pagano fully recovered and virtually every key player expected to return, the Colts are projected to build on last year’s success and challenge for the AFC title.
“It’s great. The 2-14 year was tough for all of us, especially in the sales world. But having Andrew come in and having coach Pagano and his story just kind of resurrected our fan base,” Brownfield said. “We had that one down year, but that turnaround with Luck and coach and some of the new guys that we brought in, it was a phenomenal year last year. It’s nothing that any of us really counted on.
“We knew we would have a decent year, but we didn’t expect to have the year that we had, which was awesome.”
Season tickets for 2013 are already sold out. Single-game tickets go on sale July 15.
In addition to selling those seats, Brownfield works closely with Greg Hylton, the Colts’ vice president of premium seating ticket sales, in marketing of the stadium’s 140 suites and 7,100 club seats, as well as selling special group inventory tickets.
“We’ve had a great season-ticket base, and then we’ve also had a waiting list that we’ve been able to work off for the last several years,” Brownfield said. “Then we have a group ticket base. We sell to corporations and youth football groups and not-for-profits, as well.
“Our responsibilities are to make sure that all our club seats and our suites are sold out, as well.”
Brownfield played varsity basketball, golf and tennis during his at Indian Creek High School career. He was a freshman on the Braves’ 1983 regional championship basketball team (his older brother Jeff was a senior on that team); was the Daily Journal’s Player of the Year in 1986; and finished his career as the Braves’ all-time leading scorer with 1,040 points (J.R. Angle broke the record in 2004).
Although he did not play football at Indian Creek, the 1986 graduate’s goal was to earn a living in the sports world. After earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Southern Indiana, where he played basketball for four years, Brownfield worked in the hotel industry for eight years before getting his opportunity with the Colts.
Super Bowl experience
Introduced to the Colts organization by the franchise’s former marketing specialist Ray Compton, Brownfield was first hired as a ticket sales account manager and later promoted to director of ticket sales in 2005. Last month, he was promoted to senior director of ticket sales.
But supervising tickets hasn’t been his only responsibility for owner Jim Irsay’s team.
When the Colts reached the Super Bowl in 2006 and 2010, he took on a few more tasks. With no complaints.
“I’ve been fortunate. The two Super trips that we’ve made I’ve been able to actually take control and actually manage the friends and family trip portions of it,” Brownfield said. “I got to oversee all the parties and the postgame celebrations and the pregame tailgate parties and those types of things, which was a lot of fun, a lot of fun.”
For Brownfield, few joys rival that of walking into Lucas Oil Stadium before kickoff and beholding a supercharged sea of blue.
“It’s rewarding to walk in there on game day and see 63,000-plus fans in there just going crazy,” said Brownfield, who commutes daily from Trafalgar to perform what he regards a true labor of love.
“It’s definitely been a dream, definitely been a dream,” he said. “It’s been very rewarding to me and family. The opportunities that the Irsay family have provided us have been amazing. Working for the Irsay family, they’ve been amazing to all of us, as employees, as players, as coaches.
“We’re very blessed to be in the position that we’re in.”