SBD/August 20, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

NFL Sees Promise With Attendance As Season-Ticket Renewals Are Up

NFL's '11 per-game average of 64,698 fans was the lowest in 12 years
The NFL said that “despite four consecutive years of declining attendance” the early signs for the '12 season "are positive,” according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com. NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy said that 90.6% of season-ticket holders "have renewed their packages this year, surpassing last year's final renewal rate" of 89.3%. Rovell noted that is "welcome news for the league's teams, whose per-game average of 64,698 fans last season was the lowest in 12 years” (ESPN.com, 8/17). In a separate piece, ESPN.com’s Rovell noted NFL teams are “requiring any fan who gets ejected from a stadium to take a four-hour online course before they are permitted to come back into the facility again.” The course, designed by psychotherapist Dr. Ari Novick and MetLife Stadium Security Dir Daniel DeLorenzi, “focuses on alcohol abuse, anger management and crude behavior.” A “handful of teams have used the course over the past couple seasons, but this summer, as part of a review of their best practices, every team decided to enforce the course on offending fans this season.” The program is an “extension of the NFL Fan Code of Conduct.” Not only do fans have to “take the course if they want to come back to the stadium, they have to pay for it, too.” Costs “vary by team," but the Lions and Falcons “charge the least at $50," while the Patriots “charge a league-high $100.” When a fan “completes the course, Novick's company forwards that information to the club” (ESPN.com, 8/17).

IMPROVING THE FAN EXPERIENCE: Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross and Texans Owner Robert McNair appeared on CNBC, and CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin noted Ross is "trying to ... better the experience for fans by doing some pretty interesting stuff" at SunLife Stadium. Ross said when he first acquired the team, he discovered “there’s very few things you can do to really impact the game on the field.” Ross: “I said, ‘Well, how can I impact it?’ I saw it was really enhancing the fan experience. ... They do such a great job on television I think that‘s our biggest competitor.” The first thing he “looked at was from a technology standpoint” in the stadium, and it was “probably the one aspect of life where technology really hadn’t had that impact” become the “first stadium that has high-density wi-fi.” Fans want to access videos and instant replays at the games and “you have to really incorporate social networking.” McNair said, “It is important for us to allow the fan to stay connected however they want to be connected.”  When asked about ticket prices and getting fans in the seats, Ross said, “Miami is kind of a difficult place. If we’re winning, it’s great because it’s the best time of year in Miami and there are so many alternative things you could be doing.” Ross said the Dolphins “haven’t had the good fortune of winning” and so the organization is “looking to do things to really make sure we’re ... winning on the field, but also doing things to really bring the fans out.” However, Ross added, “There’s nothing that beats winning that will bring the fans to the stadium by far.” McNair said Ross “has a tougher market than we do because so many of the people down there are from other areas” ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 8/20).
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