A word of advice for NFL owners who are looking to fill seats at their stadiums: start emphasizing what makes the stadium experience great (camaraderie, passion, and live action) and stop trying to emulate the home experience.
The Jaguars, whose average attendance of 64,984 ranked 20th in the NFL last season, told the Sports Business Journal last week they might air the NFL’s widely popular Red Zone Channel on the giant video boards at EverBank Stadium during home games this fall. They are also turning one of the concourse platforms into an air-conditioned fantasy football lounge.
The thinking, of course, is that fans will return to the stadium once they realize they can still watch Red Zone Channel and keep up with their fantasy teams while also watching the Jaguars.
That thinking is misguided. Fans don’t go to stadiums to watch TV. Watching Red Zone at a game, as SiriusXM analyst Ross Tucker said on Twitter, “feels like me trying to watch game while talking w/wife. Hard to do both effectively.”
Owners need to understand that attending a game in many cities is now a hassle more than anything else.
The traffic stinks, the tickets, parking, and food are expensive, the bathrooms are dirty, the fans are drunk and obnoxious, and, yes, it’s hard to send text messages and keep track of your fantasy team.
Putting Red Zone Channel on the stadium Jumbotron or building a fantasy football lounge isn’t going to convince most fans to leave their homes or local bars and spend $200, conservatively, on a day at the game.
Thirteen NFL teams operated at less than 95 percent attendance capacity in 2013 (with Miami last at 76.3 percent), and the answer seems simple — lower the prices. And not just on tickets. There’s no immutable law that parking has to cost $25 and a basket of rubbery chicken tenders $12.
The fans will show up if they feel like they are getting a deal. Instead, it feels like they’re getting shaken down at the gates.