If you’re a Georgia fan who attends home games, you’d think this was obvious, but what do we know?
Regardless, attendance is the largest revenue source athletic departments control in the short and medium term.
But fans are simply not showing up like they used to, and most stadiums are too large for the practical reality of modern attendance trends…
In our opinion, three major factors are most responsible for the decline:
* Time – Competition for leisure time.
* Cost – The rising cost to attend.
* Benefit – The gameday experience and value proposition hasn’t kept up with the competition.
This guy has actual data to back his opinion up, too.
* In our Fan Experience study, data showed college football fans’ satisfaction correlated most closely with atmosphere (81%), followed by fan focus (64%), players (60%), and other entertainment (57%).
* Additionally, 77% of fans stated that ticket costs were the most important upfront, but 77% of the variability in overall satisfaction was actually attributed to atmosphere.
* Similar conflicts exist such as the scoreboard, replays and food and beverage, which are self-reported as a very low priority but, in reality, are at the top of the list in correlation with fan experience satisfaction.
His solutions? Obvious #1:
* Attempt to create a frictionless experience from the moment someone leaves their home until they return.
This driveway-to-driveway experience includes efforts to reduce traffic, transit, parking and unnecessary lines.
These issues are near the top of the list from our research on the real reasons people attend less.
At a minimum, the sports industry should outperform municipalities – like airports – that offer conveniences such as curbside bag check, mobile boarding passes, TSA pre-check, Clear and premium security lanes and beyond.
Turning to the home front, it’s true that UGA can’t control that entirely, but it sure could do a better job of coordinating with the ACCPD to manage traffic flow before and after games, as well as create a smoother flow on campus, both with regard to parking and stadium entry. (And if there’s any governmental pushback on helpful suggestions, a timely reminder about what a home game does for the local economy would seem appropriate.)
*** Devote resources to the cause.
With far less tickets to sell than a university, professional sports teams have roughly seven times more people in ticket sales and service.
There is a level of service that’s expected for someone’s entertainment dollar and disposable income, and universities are behind the curve.
They need to invest in people and training to fill up their buildings.
The Pac-12 created a specific department focused on fan data to help its member schools learn more about ticket-buying trends and share best practices.
For those that enjoy the traditional collegiate environment but want the atmosphere of a sold-out stadium and competitive teams, something must give.
The sights, sounds and even distractions of the pro sports experience are directly correlated with attracting new fans and filling seats.
Leveling the playing field with the home viewing experience, timely video board replays, mobile phone connectivity, better food and beverage experience — those are just a few examples of possible in-stadium improvements.
Facilitating great tailgating encourages people to come early and stay late to avoid or minimize the traffic, while at the same time lowering fans’ sensitivity to wins and losses.
We’ve discussed this previously. There’s even a local source for much of this, the Masters, which has made an art out of flooding the sporting experience with trained folks to support the fans at the event.
As far as facilitating great tailgating, that’s been a self-inflicted wound — or, perhaps more accurately, a Michael Adams-inflicted wound — that the school has done little to heal. But it’s certainly needed.
The problem we face is that while B-M is willing to devote plenty of lip service to the concept of fan friendly, in reality it feels little pressure to translate that into action because we’re buying season tickets anyway. One day, though, this mantra is going to matter, even in Athens:
In summary, give fans more value for their entertainment dollar. The competition for time and money won’t slow down.
The concern I have is that by the time the school wakes up to this, it will be hard to adjust, first, because it never conceived such a day would arrive and second, because it won’t really have a plan to survive the new reality. The lazy thing to do at that point will be to chase the easy money, which comes from two sources, big contributors and television, even harder than it does now, rest of the fan base be damned.
Which is why I’m skeptical his conclusion would do anything other than fall on deaf ears.
Fans should reach out to their favorite school and share solutions and ideas rather than complaints.
Let schools and athletic departments know what would get you back to a game, regardless of cost.
If you’re one of those who’ve already given up attending Georgia games, what would it take to get you back to one, regardless of cost? Tell us in the comments.