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Butts in seats - 2 + 2 = 5 for very large values of 2
April 25th, 2010
03:38 pm

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Butts in seats
Friday night I was at a game for the Chicago Rush, yesterday, it was the White Sox. While I'm by no means the sort of person who goes to sporting events non-stop, I do like being at games. There are very few sports, in my opinion, which aren't improved by seeing them live.
The Rush were "off" last year, due to the old Arena league going bankrupt. Prior to that, they had built up their fan base to the point where most games were nearly sold out, say 15,000 people per game. Friday the attendance was ~7,500. The Sox haven't started out well this year (7-11), and the weather didn't help any, being mid-50s and drizzling. However, having a stated attendance of 25,000 out of capacity 40,000 isn't good. I would bet the actual turnstile number was substantially less than that.
There are a lot of factors that go into getting a person to go to a live sporting event as a fan, even more so if you aren't one. Money has been a serious issue for the last couple of years in terms of selling tickets. Scheduling can be tough in terms of selling games, transportation factors in, and there are many more.
However, watching those two games, I was struck with, what seems to me, the poor job the marketing / customer relations departments are doing. Again, lots of factors go into this, I understand, but at the end of the day the only factor that matters is butts in seats. An empty seat nets you nothing. You get zero revenue from the ticket sale, you get nothing from parking, you get nothing from concessions or souvenirs. Not to mention that the team and other fans perceive poor fan support and it's harder to build that support for the future, and the fact that the hard costs (stadium upkeep, salary costs) are largely fixed. I've never understood why teams that know a game isn't going to be sold out aren't going out of their way to give tickets away. Find a school, a scout troop, little league teams, anybody (preferably children's groups) to give away blocks of seats. Those lousy corner seats that never sell out, give them away as a group. If you get a butt in the seat, at least you have the possibility of revenue from concessions, souvenirs and parking. Give then to children's groups and you can get parents there. Build your fan base by making sure that people become fans early. Get people talking about how they went to the game. Make sure that your event is something that is on the radar when people are planning, because you, and your friends and family are talking about their last experience. As a team, if you can sell out your games, great. But if you can't, do everything you can to get those seats full.

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