Sunday, July 01, 2012

NFL attendance problems a lesson for BC

BC's faced some attendance issues the past few years. We like to blame the tailgating or Spaz or the schedule, but the reality is there are multiple factors. Just look at the attendance issues facing the most popular league in American sports -- the NFL. If they can't get butts in the seats, how can BC? The NFL has a few different solutions in play. Perhaps, BC can learn from them.

Fewer Seats
The NFL is lowering the bar, so that blackout rules don't require sellouts. Blackouts are not an issue in college, but perhaps few seats will help demand and make Alumni seem full. I don't want to tear out seats, but maybe we can replace the bleachers with actual seats. That would take up more space, eliminate seats and improve the watching experience. 

Lower prices
The internet has added fluidity to the ticket market. It used to be BC fans would buy season ticket packages to assure themselves Notre Dame tickets or some other desirable game. Now most know that they can buy the game they want without committing to others they don't. One way to win them back is to lower the investment. BC will miss out on the mark up of the premium games, but at least they will have more people invest in a whole season. BC is indirectly doing this already with their discounts of the less desirable games. If the NFL is lowering prices on parking and concessions, BC should also explore it. Like the NFL we are getting more and more money from TV. Why not make the ingame experience more affordable.

In-game experience
This has been discussed ad nauseum, but needs to be looked at again. I don't think it is as simple as the NFL's push for wireless. We need the game day experience to be inviting from the moment the gates open to the moment the last fan is leaving. It is about the music, the ushers, the video boards, the halftime, the activities during commercial breaks. I don't want BC to turn into a barrage of nonsense, but we can do more. 

I don't go to many BC games. That's mostly because of my location. But I also like the watching the game in my home. The convenience, the visuals, and the costs all factor into my decision. But live sports is still a great experience...especially college football. I just hope BC doesn't wait around until the Alumni is empty. We need to learn from what works for the NFL and what doesn't.  


Big Jack Krack said...

Coaching to win might help.

Encouraging the players to give it the old college try might help.

Winning has a way of putting fans in the seats. Let's go coaches - give our guys a chance.

Even programs like Tennessee are worried. I heard recently that they are down to 67,000 season tickets in their 110,000 seat stadium. They used to get 90,000.

Free WiFi - yeah, that ought to do it. Wow.

Knucklehead said...

The major issue that I have with the live game experience(I am a BC season ticket holder)is the media timeouts. There is alot of time between drives and between kickoffs and the start of a drive. It is brutal. The only saving grace I have is being able to tailgate before the game. If I were not able to tailgate before it would greatly reduce my desire to attend the game in person.

I agree that the cost to park on campus for gameday and the cost of tickets needs to be reduced. In regards to season tickets, the upper tier of the stadium especially behind the endzones should be reduced to $25 a game. That would get the seats filled.

eagleboston said...

I have been flying out to Boston for at least 1 game per year for the past several years. The gameday experience has dropped dramatically in that time and is way, way down from the late 80's when I was a student (much different era...fewer games on tv, etc).

The big problem is that the staff always seems as if you are a burden to them. From the police to the ushers, they all seem as if they want a confrontation. Hello! I am the customer here! The tailgating, which was phenomenal in the 80's, is downright depressing today.

There are positives. Most seats offer an excellent view of the field. The students are absolutely terrific. The food is stellar (where else can you get clam chowder?).

And BC should not bear all of the blame. The fans don't even arrive for kick-off, even when Matt Ryan was playing in critical ACC games! I also attend 3-4 other college football games each fall at other schools and it is as if the BC fans just don't get it. The students are great, but the alumni and Boston area folks are horrific.

CatabEagle said...

Here is one out-of-the-box idea for an in-game experience. Change our halftime experience. This will not replace the quality of football on the field, but it can liven up watching the Spaz paint-dry offense as we're grinding out a 10-7 victory over Duke.

While I'm sure our marching band and color guard are long-standing traditions at BC, I don't see any initiative by the administration, student body, or alumni to create a better halftime show. We often have the teams out there in jeans and t-shirts, a far cry from Ohio State or ND.

My thought: A single rugby 7s game with a side from the opposing school's rugby team. Here's why:
1. It can be played on the turf at alumni with no changes to the field.
2. Its now a televised collegiate sport, with an annual championship game on NBC.
3. Its an olympic sport, starting in 2016.
4. It will cost much less than the marching band, and will provide significant more excitement.
5. Its the exact time of the halftime show, approximately 15 minutes.

chicagofire1871 said...

In speaking to the AD last fall, I was told that the capital required to make remove the bleachers and replace them with regular stadium seats is "not available".

The more I talk to folks at BC, the more it seems like Fr. Leahy is just not a sports guy, and the buck stops there.

Bosgal33 said...

We no longer plan to travel to Boston for games. We'd rather go to some road games to see BC play, where we'll get a great game day experience and have an enjoyable day overall. Going to Alumni is depressing from so many aspects including the lame tailgating, the rude stadium staff, and the sleeping crowd. There really is nothing special about a game at BC.

Jeff said...

Atl Eagle, why do you want to remove seats? That's not what the NFL is doing. By loosening the blackout restrictions, they are making it possible for teams to expand seating. Under the old rules, capacity expansions were risky because they could induce a blackout. Now, you'll see more teams expanding seating.

So I think you're way off on seating, but your other points make sense. Winning and game-day experience are the real keys. We can only do so much (currently not enough) to make sure we win. We can certainly do more for the game-day experience: better parking and tailgaiting options would top the list.

The Sean McMahon said...

A few game day experience suggestions:

1. BC really need to add bathrooms, merchandise and more/better food options to the upper endzone sections. A lot of casual fans sit there because the tickets are cheap, and I've heard numerous complaints about it, especially the lack of bathrooms.

2. Show the game (maybe even on a slight delay) in Conte. Its hard for families with children to enjoy a cold weather game when the kids are freezing. This gives people an opportunity to duck in and warm up without missing any action.

3. Synergy. Have basketball / hockey / soccer scrimmages before or after games open to the public (or to football ticket holders).

4. Get the students to show up on time. Maybe wishful thinking.