Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Change is about more than tailgating

BC announced their 2013 Football tickets sales Wednesday. The prices are unchanged and the school is opening up new parking spots and rolling out a "You're No. 1" theme intended to change the whole BC-fan experience. I am not a season-ticket holder so it is easy (but slightly uniformed) for me to rail against what BC does and doesn't do on game day. But the reality is demand and attendance dropped the past few years.  Even outside of the lackluster product on the field, BC is now facing the changing marketplace for sports. These are a few suggestions.

1. Keep the action constant. I actually got this idea from Mark Cuban. He says his worst nightmare is seeing people looking down at their smart phones during games. I understand that BC cannot have a juggler running out on the field during every TV timeout, but there has to be something to fill the breaks in the action. Give people a reason to be there in person. If all they are getting is the game action, you will lose them to the TV experience. This probably means a significant upgrade in the scoreboard and the scoreboard features.

2. More dynamic pricing. The internet has already done this to a certain extent on the reseller's market, but  I think BC should test new ideas. The Army game is not as valuable as the Virginia Tech game. They should probably be priced accordingly. Even if it is net-revenue neutral for BC, the perception of the customer changes. They don't feel they are being "ripped off" by a less-exciting home slate.

3. Market and communicate culture changes. The two big ingrained fan behaviors need to change. The first is the late arriving crowd. The second is the fans who get mad at other fans for standing and cheering. BC has tried a few things here and there to change both, but nothing took hold. I think BC has to communicate its desire to change both and change the marketing around it. For getting to the seats on-time, that involves adjusting the tailgating policy in a friendly way, but also creating some sort of "must see" tradition to get people to their seats (a live eagle, maybe). For the "down in fronts" I think BC needs to potentially segregate the crowd. Ask people when they renew if they want a "loud" or "reserved" section. It might be weird to have whole sections sitting while others stand, but at least the fans will be with others like themselves.

What other ideas do you want to see?

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38 Comments:

At 3:50 PM, Blogger Tim said...

BC had no problems with attendance in 2005-2007, i.e. when we had a competitive football program. Just put a good team on the field and the fans will follow. I don't care how many live eagles or other gimmicks you provide, I'm not paying money to see a 2-10 team.

 
At 4:25 PM, Blogger ATL_eagle said...

Tim:

Agreed that winning is primary. That's a given. But BC cannot just assume that it is only about wins. The market has changed.

 
At 5:09 PM, Blogger Sal said...

There needs to be more coordination between the control room and the marching band. I can't tell you how many times the band would break into "Shipping up to Boston" or "Sweet Caroline," songs that generally jazz at least the student section up, and they blare a dumb advertisement or drunk driving PSA on the video screens over it. A lot of what kills game atmosphere is that glaring disconnect between what's going on in the control room and the crowd/student section.

I know a control room has a "script" that they need to abide by, but honestly it needs to be reworked. If it's the fourth quarter, close game, crowd's really into it, and they feel the need to blare a dumb Under Armour advertisement, well...let's just say it really detracts from the mood of the game. I understand that sponsors need to get their facetime, but it really needs to be evaluated WHEN they are played.

 
At 5:28 PM, Blogger PJeagle said...

I'm impressed by the efforts that B2 seems to be making since he became AD. I think he really has made this a priority and he wants some type of palpable improvement in game time atmosphere starting on 8/31. As an aside, I received the email from him about the Presidential Scholar who is now the backup on the hockey team. I emailed him back saying that it was a good idea to spread the goods news and told him that I had tweeted the story on my own with a link to the Heights article before receiving his email. He immediately got back to me with a gracious email stating among other things that he'd like to meet me next time I was at BC. He seems to be trying very hard. Wishing him all the best.

 
At 6:51 PM, Blogger Tbalk said...

Agree completely on down-in-fronters. Single worst thing about going to BC football and basketball games.

 
At 9:02 PM, Blogger EagleinNYC said...

Granted I haven't been to a game in about 2 years now, but if Va Tech can get the place hopping with Enter Sandman as the team breaks into the field why can't we do something similar? Last time they had Shipping up to Boston playing almost to the right point. The place almost felt right. Then they just stopped it and played the Fight Song. I love For Boston, don't get me wrong. But if they would have the team break the tape and burst onto the field as SUTB hits a high note I think the crowd would get into that a lot more than hearing For Boston yet again. And some might even try to get to their seats for it.

 
At 9:02 PM, Blogger EagleinNYC said...

Granted I haven't been to a game in about 2 years now, but if Va Tech can get the place hopping with Enter Sandman as the team breaks into the field why can't we do something similar? Last time they had Shipping up to Boston playing almost to the right point. The place almost felt right. Then they just stopped it and played the Fight Song. I love For Boston, don't get me wrong. But if they would have the team break the tape and burst onto the field as SUTB hits a high note I think the crowd would get into that a lot more than hearing For Boston yet again. And some might even try to get to their seats for it.

 
At 9:55 PM, Blogger Big Jack Krack said...

Good points, Sal. I'm one of those long time fans who loves the band - before, during and after. While we need the big screens nowadays, I hate it when they drown out the band. The band's purpose is to keep the crowd in the game.

Thanks pjeagle - I think our AD will keep it up. I'm glad about the additional parking options for season ticket holders as well, with more good news to come.

I have been attending games for many years (long time season ticket holder, although I live 1000 miles from BC for the past 13 years) - I guess some of you refer to a guy like me as whalepants (although I don't feel that way - whatever it means).

This is what I think of "Down in Front". If you are standing and cheering game action - I think that's great. I really do. But if you are standing in front of me just shooting the s..., and you are oblivious to what is going on, I will yell at you for sure.

I'm lucky at home games because I have great 50 yard line seats. But some of the away games are problems when fans just stand around visiting with each other during play.

So we need to realize that standing and cheering is good - standing and visiting without much interest in the action is not good. There's a big difference.

 
At 10:01 PM, Blogger Big Jack Krack said...

EagleinNYC - I agree with you and would love to see us adopt something exciting for our team's entrance - if it's SUTB so be it.

If BC embraces its fans once again - we fans need to do our part and get to our seats before the team takes the field.

I always get to my seats early - but I'm a whalepants, I guess. :-)

 
At 10:02 PM, Blogger Big Jack Krack said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 10:12 PM, Blogger Big Jack Krack said...

BTW - I'm sure the definition of tailgating includes grilles and cook-outs, loud music, TV's etc.

I don't know about the changes, but tailgating is banned on the Brighton Campus.

But if a group or family had a social gathering that included sandwiches, snacks, beer and wine - without grilles and all the rest - I think that would be okay by definition.

A social picnic is not a tailgate.

 
At 10:55 PM, Blogger Ry said...

the city of boston gives us a tailgating license that restricts alcohol consumption to certain hours and locations. we have not been able to get this type of permit for the brighton campus, possibly due to the hissyfits raised by the neighbors on lake street and their worry that their street will become overrun by drunken alumni (as if it weren't already). if bates is able to make that work, he'd immediately outdo gene.

news just broke that menino isn't seeking reelection, so maybe the city hall change will work in our favor?

 
At 11:20 PM, Blogger EL MIZ said...

wow such a great post.

Tim -- agree that a good football team will bring the fans. but even when the fans were going there was MUCH to be improved about the fan experience at the game, and I am happy to hear that Bates is actually reaching out and interested in making games fun.

thats the whole point -- travelling back to the alma mater, seeing friends & family, being on campus, having a nice tailgate which as BJK said entails some grilling, some beers, and general good times which for whatever reason seem at times to be so hard to have on the BC campus (occasionally due to insane oversight by stadium staff and aggressive BCPD/BPD). police problems weren't bad in 2012 but in years passed it was comical how bad certain interactions were.

agree that getting to the game on time makes for a better atmosphere, and some sort of gimmick like the Eagle to get fans in the seats wouldnt be such a bad idea i suppose.

i remember in 2005 a saturday night game against Florida State that was our first year in the ACC, FSU was undefeated coming into the game -- we are only going to get to that level of "awesome" if the team is competeting for ACC titles. thats the bottom line.

i hope the product on the field and the product off of it are both improved with the Bates/Addazio regime.

 
At 8:59 AM, Blogger Knucklehead said...

They should show other games on the jumbotron: a)old BC games or b)actual games that are being played by other teams during the same time slot.

The bc jumbotron does not consistently show replays or iffy plays/calls so its only use is to show ads or trivia questions.

You could sell the use of our jumbotrons to ABC or ESPN and then we show the game.

The question is do you keep the game on continually or only during our TV timeouts.

 
At 9:15 AM, Blogger CatabEagle said...

Ry -
Great points about lake street and the issues with the brighton campus and tailgating, etc...

I'd be surprised if the Menino handoff will cause a change. Lake street is the sole property of Bill Galvin, the least-known, arguably most powerful person in the Commonwealth. He lives there and runs the show. Until he gives a thumbs up, I'd doubt there will be change. That being said, if all the BC alums and BC students who are residents of Allston/Brighton put the right state reps, senators, and councilors in place, you'd have a good chance of getting it done.

 
At 9:16 AM, Blogger Knucklehead said...

I don' think pomp/circumstance/gimmicks will work with the Boston College "crowd" or the non-bc people we need to sell the stadium out. Our folks are too cynical/educated/care more about the social aspect of the game than the results. I know I don't like trying to be sold.

More understated changes like slightly shifting the focus off of Boston College football and making the stadium more of a social/overall college football experience would be more effective.

Along those lines improving the food in the stadium would help. In the 80's/early 90's Legal Seafood had a cart in the stadium and sold chowder. Bring them back.

Bring in Pino's Pizza instead of lowsy Papa Gino's(run by BC guy whose kids went to BC to though).

Have a raffle BEFORE the game where the winner/s could be in the locker room for the 10 minutes before the players leave the lockerroom and head onto the field(the winner would get to hear the pregame talk from the coach).

 
At 9:18 AM, Blogger Knucklehead said...

Forget the limitations of the area/ tailgating and think about ideas that will make people want to overcome the limitations.

 
At 9:20 AM, Blogger CatabEagle said...

I'd love it if they replaced the halftime show with a 7s rugby game. The team is one of the better ones in the country, its an olympic sport in 2016, and its the exact duration of halftime. Fun, exciting sport played by BC Students and potential future olympians, and great entertainment for halftime.

 
At 10:16 AM, Blogger NameNotTaken said...

I was a long time season ticket holder, went to away games every year (Cotton Bowl, Clemson, PSU, Army, etc.) like many of you... but BC caved in to unreasonalbe neighborhood nazis and enlisted the gestapo-like tactics of the police to bully even innocent tailgaters. And the alternative is getting bused in from Rt. 128? Finally I and our entire group said "enough." When the tailgating becomes relaxing and fun again I might come back. THAT IS KEY TO MANY. And if we can't stand up to the neighbors, then have a few big games at Gillette.

 
At 10:55 AM, Blogger SectionKK said...

Excluding winning from the equation, tailgating is 90% of the problem. The in-stadium experience is the last 10%. I think one of the things ATL means about the market changing is that it's becoming more and more attractive to stay home and watch the games on TV. Televisions have gotten a lot nicer and there are so many other games on that's it's tough to devote an entire day or afternoon to one game. The difference-maker is tailgating. I have a spot on Shea and we have a lot of fun, but the hours are still way too restrictive and the other rules governing entry onto the field really bog it down. Also, while I think the police were slightly better at the beginning of last season, by the end of the year (at least in my experience) it was back to the gestapo tactics. I don't like being told I'm trespassing on BC property for eating a hot dog after a game when we donate as much as we do. Using the neighbors as an excuse is a cop out. I really hope Bates is looking at this fresh. He needs to make the case to the city and make some real changes to the tailgating scene.

 
At 11:15 AM, Blogger OB68 said...

For the past three years I have suggested that BC make more efficient use of SUTB as a song to get the students and fans "psyched". Their current timing is horrible, they play it at times when it is impossible to complete the song and the crowd goes DEAD. I have also suggested that they do their best to get a live eagle to fly onto the field before the team. This was a tradition in the 60's when Margo the Golden Eagle led the team by flying to a perch at mid field. I think the fans would love both. I have also suggested that the new AD take several trips to and from the parking lots on the game day school bus to hear from the fans in the first person. I am a season ticket owner who will not buy this year.

 
At 11:48 AM, Blogger Ry said...

better than shipping up to boston would be the dropkick murphy's version of For Boston, which for some reason the school has not used as much.

Here's a link if you haven't heard it.

 
At 12:50 PM, Blogger Erik said...

I like Knuckleheads idea of showing other games when we are later, or even College Gameday for our noon games. When you go to a 4:00 patriots game it is nice to see the 1:00 games wrapping up on the big screen. Same idea and the gamblers will love it.

 
At 1:01 PM, Blogger CatabEagle said...

Namenottaken - I think you hit the nail on the head. There was a period, specifically the mid 2000s, where the Police acted as if every tailgater was guilty of something. I've seen police sirens blared directly next to newborn infants, man and women of all ages manhandled, and numerous threats of assaults by the police force (most egregious were the state police). On one occasion, I had an obese statie on a motorcylce accost a sober friend of mine who had just returned from an USMC deployment to Iraq just after Fallujah for eating a hot dog.

In short, no one wants to be treated as a criminal for eating a hot dog or having a beverage. Common sense needs to return, and I don't know the best route.

 
At 1:06 PM, Blogger JBQ said...

As someone who visited the campus in March of 2010, there are big problems with logistics on campus. I took the green line after taking the train up from NYC. The A.D. should consider "park and ride". You could have a special green line train with pickups at various points. The cars are small and you would need to have a special large train. You would also need some way to get the fans from the track at the top of the hill down to the stadium. You could also be imaginative and create a "tailgate experience" for these fans as well. You could add a fee to the tickets to guarantee that you would know how many fans to expect for the train. The stadium is nice. However, it sits in a corner across from the reservoir. Too bad that you couldn't "cover the reservoir" and use it for parking. you do what you can. You do what you can. It is called the "Heights" for a reason with the large number of hills.

 
At 1:21 PM, Blogger BCseasontix said...

I have come to the Heights for many games via train(T), bus, car and foot. They all are a pain in the ass! How many cars can park down on the Brighton campus. At least that walk isn't so bad...

 
At 2:08 PM, Blogger BC'78 said...

Knucklehead's scoreborad failings are accurate. How about a few out of town scores? the scoreboard is way under utilzed for useful information. Shea Field policies are a joke. To show wait in line and have to show a ticket to on the holy grail is ridiculous. The most stupid idea is not being able to carry a beer either from Shea to the other side of the fence at another tailgate spo such as the Beacon Street garage and vice versa. Anyone parking on Shea Field is donating a fair amuont of money to BC for that privilege and to treated like a bucnh of out of line teenagers by the gestapo is totally unacceptable. BC has driven many people away because of its senseless game day policy and donor based seating and they will not get them back. Let's try to make it better for the current and next group of supporters.

 
At 2:46 PM, Blogger EL MIZ said...

agree with everyone on here about the Police -- BCPD, BPD, and MA Staties have all been just outrageous with their behavior in years passed, everyone seems to have their own horror stories. you look at them during some interactions and wonder what is wrong with them, i've never had interactions with police like that anywhere else. i'd imagine Bates meeting with the superiors of all 3 and giving directives would help the situation; there should also be some sort of reporting mechanism for fans, as some of the stuff i have seen (cops yelling at people who were literally standing around doing nothing, cops touching people to make them to begin to "move" towards the game at a certain time, cops handcuffing responsible and respctful 30-40 yr old men and women who were drinking beer at a tailgate because they were like a few feet outside of the "designated tail gate area") makes you scratch your head and wonder what is going on. not every person is a blacked out 18 yr old, and average adults deserving some modicum of respect and civility. it really needs to be remedied.

the in-game people (the ppl in the yellow jackets) were better last year but there have been issues with them as well. at least BC can control that as we pay them to be there and Bates said in his letter that he'd be emphasizing the motto "the fan is #1" so hopefully they'll be more helpful.

tailgating really shouldn't be so complicated. grilling/eating, having a few beers, obviously there are some logistical things but if you really think it through it is not impossible to do. i am happy Bates has made it a #1 priority, between the product on the field and the treatment around the stadium, it has not been worth going to a game the last few years.

 
At 4:08 PM, Blogger Ry said...

It can't be understated how much local authorities hold BC's feet to the fire about open containers and tailgating rules. Staties, BCPD, and BPD are all following directions that are there because of neighbors, not because the university has something against tailgating.

It's easy to complain and point fingers to the administration, but when you have a master plan that calls for the type of expansion that BC wants and needs, keeping the town-gown situation peaceful is a necessary first step.

 
At 4:16 PM, Blogger EL MIZ said...

Ry, i think you capture the reality of the situation in that BC has basically given the neighbors and the police carte blanche.

what i disagree with is the philosophy. A it hasn't led to any more cooperation from the neighbors as far as I can tell. B you alienate your alumni and BC family at the expense of catering to a group of people who will oppose you no matter what.

if i were Bates i would be more proactive about ensuring that things that happen on BC's property are for BC to monitor. that staties can walk around our own campus and harass BC students and alum and guests so that we can curry favor with locals who oppose us no matter what is stupid. enough is enough.

 
At 7:56 PM, Blogger Joseph said...

Start a fund to buy every house on lake street and from every other person who has a problem with BC being a neighbor.

 
At 7:57 PM, Blogger Joseph said...

Start a fund to buy every house on lake street and from every other person who has a problem with BC being a neighbor.

 
At 8:58 PM, Blogger Knucklehead said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 9:00 PM, Blogger Knucklehead said...

We have been doing that for years. See college Road and the neighborhood on the left side of beacon street from the Resvr up to College Rd intersection.

Lake Street is a 50% rental properties. I can't understand how the people in that neighborhood have anycontrol over BC's biuldinig plans.

The original neighbors that we placated in 90's to upgrade Alumnin Stadium were up between Lynden Lane and that Quaban area where the serious old money lives.

I don't understand how Lake Street residents or South Street people have any say in our expansion or tailgating. The excuse from the Admins at BC that the neighbors are the reseason for tailgating smells like BS.

Especially because for games like ND and FSU we always get extended tailgating hours. The neighbors don't fight those extended hours why would they fight the hours if they were implemented all season . . . I think BC does not want to pay the cops for any more hours than they have to.

 
At 10:30 PM, Blogger Ry said...

Put it to you this way: we can't even knock down More Hall, an outdated and empty building, without getting permission from the neighbors (the building has been empty now for over a year), let alone plan, design, and build the new residence hall that is supposed to take up that spot. And that is for something that will affect hundreds of students' lives every single day. In the grand scheme that is a way bigger deal than tailgating and even that has been stymied up to now. The lake street neighbors have pull because they have reps who have pull and those reps like to keep their jobs.

 
At 8:07 AM, Blogger Knucklehead said...

Zoning laws dude. Nobody can build anything or remodel without it being approved. It is not just Boston College.

The issue we have is the time it takes to the requests approved. That is all legal manuevering.

Maybe we should get a couple of BC grads elected to the zoning board in Boston and Newton.

That may be an issue to. If the construction plans have to be approved by both cities, newton/boston, because of the location of the construction.

 
At 8:16 AM, Blogger Knucklehead said...

Mayor Menino is out after hiscurrent term. He was not a big suppporter of the expansions. Maybe we can get some help from the next mayor.

It isn't just Boston College. Harvard bought almost all Western Ave 5 years ago and they haven't built much, if anything. BU has wanted to build a lab for years and they have been thwarted as well.

We used to "own" local politics. Not anymore baby. We went national.

 
At 1:29 PM, Blogger Joseph said...

The next mayor of Boston went to BC Law

 

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