It’s no secret that college athletic departments operate on pretty tight budgets. The decline in attendance only makes matters worse. We know we have to spend money to make money but we also know that you can’t draw from an empty bucket. How do you overcome the hurdle of knowing you need to invest in research, strategy, and data analytics but don’t have the budget for it?
At Texas A&M University, the average football fan will spend right around $10 per game on concessions once they enter the stadium. Their listed average attendance is right around 100,000 fans per game which is an extra $1m per game, purely on concessions. Throw in an average of another $20 on merchandise and you’ve climbed to an additional $3m per game in revenue beyond ticket cost.
Not everyone can pack in 100,000 fans per game though. Research does show that the revenue-per-fan at Texas A&M is fairly average so even if you’re only expecting 50,000 fans, that’s an additional $1.5m per game in revenue from concessions and merchandise. And this doesn’t include a dime that the local hotels are making off of you.
Athletic departments are already getting a share of the concession and merchandise sales, of course. But the food and apparel partners are still making a lot of money from your fans. More importantly, they’d stand to make a lot more if you had more fans coming through your gates. This, in turn, puts more money in your pockets. It’s a vicious cycle, but one that is too often overlooked.
Strategic marketing, if done properly, can be highly effective. Let’s say you embark on an engagement that could result in an increase of 5,000 fans per game. Looking at the additional revenue-per-fan that your partners will be making, that equates to an additional $150,000 per game, or nearly $1m per season. Your partners should be more than willing to pony up some capital to invest in something that could bring a ROI on that level.
The more fans in your stands, the more money your concessionaires, apparel partners, local restaurants and especially your area hotels are making off your product. Go to them and enlist their help to cover the cost of reversing the trend of declining attendance in college sports.