Teams’ Response to Attendance and Ticket Sales Woes Will Impact Sponsors

November 16, 2021 Teams’ Response to Attendance and Ticket Sales Woes Will Impact Sponsors

As leagues and teams seek short- and long-term solutions to declining attendance and ticket sales trends, their corporate partners are undoubtedly watching closely and assessing the ramifications for their brands’ ability to reach and interact with fans.

With general consensus that COVID is not the sole reason for unsold inventory and drastically reduced scan rates across the NFL, college football and other sports, properties are exploring multiple ways to remedy the situation.

In the near term, as a Sportico article last week pointed out, teams are “attempting to fill seats—and in many cases recoup losses from a year without fans—without flooding the market or upsetting season ticket holders.”

With many teams seeking to avoid selling discount tickets on the open market, sponsors could play an important role, serving as a conduit to targeted consumers through a variety of activation programs, such as offering admission with product purchase, and distributing tickets to employees and nonprofit partners.

Looking further down the road, there is much industry conversation focused on reducing stadium and arena capacity—in particular greatly shrinking or eliminating low-cost, low-value upper deck seating that has proved to be less appealing to today’s fans.

Although sponsors stuck on the idea of “reach” may initially recoil at the concept of accommodating fewer fans in the stands, reconfigured venues that eliminate unwanted seating ultimately offer many benefits to corporate partners, including:

    • Their on-site presence will become part of an improved fan experience created by seating options that offer desirable features and amenities, and bring everyone closer to the action on the field.
    • Changes typically include new and better physical locations for corporate hospitality and entertainment.
    • The addition of party decks, lounges, club seating areas, loges, etc. provides new naming rights and sponsorship branding opportunities.

That’s not to say that dramatically reducing or getting rid of the “cheap seats” won’t come without drawbacks. Although clearly consumers are not clamoring for the many empty affordable seats on sale today, taking away the option will change the nature of who attends future games.

With the very real potential of fewer families and less socio-economic diversity among live event attendees, some consumer brand marketers will be forced to rethink their need to be on site at stadiums and arenas that were once no-brainer selections as stops for a mobile marketing tour or experiential marketing activation.