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Christopher Nascimento, October 22 2021

How To Get Fans Back In The Stands

What Can We Do To Make Fans Comfortable Again

Source: fansided.com

In Canada, we are now starting to return to some type of normalcy from an entertainment standpoint. Restaurants. Movie theaters. Sporting events! Have all opened up again, and as of a few days ago the Vancouver Canucks were the last NHL team to reach 100% capacity. Huge! But, there’s been a problem that we’ve been seeing across the country, sports aren’t selling out like they used to! “These markets aren’t viable”, “we need to relocate”, “this fanbase no longer cares about their organization”...


I’ll be the first to admit, we’re all wired differently now. I sometimes watch movies and see a person entering a venue or airplane, and they aren’t wearing a mask, it makes me pause for a moment. Wait for what? Then I remember: oh ya, there was a time, in Canada, where we didn’t wear masks… ah 2019, good times. I digress, this is just one of many examples that I can provide of how different we all are now. Don’t get me wrong, sports fans are amped for the opportunity to be back in the stands but it does feel a little weird, for now.

Here are some ideas for organizations to make fans comfortable attending sporting events again:

1. Avoid herding people like cattle again. I hated this even before the pandemic started, but now more than ever I don’t want to be waiting in line to get my ticket scanned, and Sneezy Joe is standing behind me. With that, we believe the small things can go a long way. Use all entrances and exits. Look when the game ends and there’s a mad dash to the parking lot, people are opening doors that we don’t even know opened. It may burden teams with increased staffing costs but it goes a long way and you can view this as an investment to bring fans back.

2. Reduce wait times. Speaking of Sneezy Joe, not only did I not want to stand in front of him while waiting to get my ticket scanned, I especially don’t want him anywhere near my pizza! Who wouldn’t prefer to remain in their comfortable seat, at intermission, and enjoy whatever show is being put on (if any…). People are there for the experience! Give a call to your partnerships department and say Hey, that Uber Eats and DoorDash stuff seems to be doing pretty well, why not partner with them to deliver food & beverage directly to fans in their seats… Not a bad idea, eh? Well let’s build it out a bit more, this is clearly feasible as most lower bowl or suite seats already have waiters and waitresses, helping them out with their orders. Thus, sign a deal with a major food delivery company, slap their logo on a t-shirt, and allow fans to order from their phones.

3. Create a safe environment. Don’t just talk the talk, walk it. It’s great seeing organizations pushing campaigns that are selling the idea that their game experience is safe, but as Jerry McGuire said “show me the…” cleanliness. I promise, by just adding small things like more hand sanitizer stations, wet wipes, blockers between urinals (should always be there), etc. makes a big difference in creating an environment people feel safer in.

4. Get them in the door early. Not only will this increase your bottom line, by having fans increase their average time spent in the stadium, but it will also make them feel more comfortable. When at the game early, they can visit the team store, order a slice of pizza and walk around the concourse all without having Sneezy Joe slapping a little extra cheese on their pie. This gives fans an overall better experience. So what can you do? Why not a fan fest like teams have in the playoffs. A musical act. $1 hot dogs. Whatever. If there is a will there's a way.

5. Show them you care. It’s been a long two years and an even longer article, now is the time to show them how much you appreciate their support (and ours don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter). If they’re trekking through town to make it to the game, don’t rob them at the concessions or parking lot, make it make sense. Charge them prices that will leave them feeling like they received a deal. Build up their trust, have them believe they’re receiving an immense amount of value, and now find new ways to offset these costs (a future article can cover how to do so).

If you’re reading this and thinking, whoa, every suggestion you guys offered requires us to spend money. We know. That’s why we view it as an investment. The sooner fans are comfortable, the sooner attendance numbers will rise again.

Published: October 22, 2021 - Issue 11 of The Sport Marketeer

Written by

Christopher Nascimento


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