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The Games Go On, But Where Are The Fans? Losing The Competition With The Couch

The Latest In Football Where is everybody? Certainly not in the stands at sporting events. The college football bowl season continued to unfurl on Tuesday night with the Cheribundi...

The Latest In Football

Where is everybody?

Certainly not in the stands at sporting events.

The college football bowl season continued to unfurl on Tuesday night with the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl in Boca Raton, Fla. No attendance figures seem to be immediately available for this game that resulted in Alabama-Birmingham defeating Northern Illinois 37-13. TV camera shots that showed the fans found very few in a stadium that only holds 30,000. Do not mistake a stat for tickets sold as the actual attendance, though often no turnstile count is revealed.

This was also obvious throughout the college football season at numerous programs – swaths of empty seats.
And it’s affecting the NFL as well, where teams have begun using giveaways and aggressive marketing techniques to lure ticket-holders to the stadium and to recruit new fans.

Washington Times sports columnist Thom Loverro wrote about this early in the week after covering Sunday’s Baltimore Ravens game. The Ravens, who are in playoff contention, gave away purple scarves to the first 30,000 fans in the building.

The money quote in Loverro’s piece: “You never see NFL teams do a premium promotion like that,” said Marty Conway, sports business consultants and instructor in Georgetown’s Sports Industry Management. “Now they are recognizing that they have to figure out some way to both get people to buy and to show up. It’s a completely new reality.”

The NFL used to call this “competition with the couch.” As TVs began providing better images and grew in size, more fans opted to stay at home. The one-time investment in comfortable furniture and a screen beat the ever-increasing ticket prices, the forced buy of preseason game tickets, the ridiculous tab at concession stands and the parking costs, the traffic to and from the game and the vagaries of weather.

Statista.com, using the Fan Cost Index (tickets, concessions, souvenirs, etc.) reported the cost for a family of four to attend one Ravens’ game at $574.44. And that ranked ninth in the NFL. It is nearly $1,000 for the Los Angeles Chargers.

Where are the fans? Home. They’re still watching. But they’re watching where the food and beer are cheaper and the lines for the restroom are shorter.

 
 
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman

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