SBD/July 17, 2014/Colleges

College Athletic Execs Studying Sporting KC To Try To Reverse Attendance Woes

The continuing trend of fans choosing the at-home experience instead of attending college football games "has sent officials from SEC athletic departments searching for ways to win them back," and that led them to a "common destination" in Sporting KC and Sporting Innovations, according to Ben Cohen of the WALL STREET JORUNAL. Univ. of Florida athletic department officials in May "became one of hundreds of sports teams" to visit Sporting Park and Sporting Innovations, the team's "consulting firm focused on fan engagement and technology." Pac-12 officials "also took a trip" to Sporting Park. They "were so impressed that they signed a deal with Sporting Innovations, which is quietly influencing the way college-football teams operate, to help them on fan-related issues." While Sporting KC averaged 10,287 fans a game in '10, that "has increased this year to a franchise-record 19,709 per MLS game." How club execs "pulled that off intrigues colleges that are struggling to fill their mammoth football stadiums." Sporting KC CEO Rob Heineman said that three other SEC schools have visited the club, while Oklahoma State "announced a deal with Sporting Innovations in March." Heineman: "They're all dealing with the same issues: ticket sales going down and a difficulty getting students to come early and stay late." MLS execs believe that their league's stature "forced them to come up with creative solutions for attendance problems before they struck bigger sports like the NFL and college football" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/17).
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