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Portland Trailblazers use marquee opponents to sell tickets

Posted by ZA on November 2, 2009

Interesting that the Portland Trailblazers are using their marquee opponents to sell single game tickets.  On the tickets page of their official team website, the Trailblazers have a section on Upcoming Home Games.  In it they say, “Can’t wait to see guys like Lebron, Shaw, D-Wade and Kobe when they come to town…”  Directly above it they have a photo of Lebron James and Dwayne Wade (see image below).

There is nothing wrong with Portland promoting their opponents to sell more tickets, many teams have used this same technique.  The New Jersey Nets are giving their fans jerseys of the star player on the opposing team.   And there are certainly more people in Oregon who want to see a Blazers game against global icon James, so promoting a name like Lebron creates more awareness.  But I’m surprised a team as good as Portland, with such strong fan support, would want to  promote an opponent just to sell more tickets.

The story that Portland’s marketing department needs to tell is about their own young, exciting, talented squad.  They need to be connecting the fans in Portland with the players on the Trailblazers.  This is no longer the “Jailblazers”; this Portland squad has marketable young stars in Brandon Roy, Lamarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden.  The Portland front office needs their fans to know that Rudy Fernandez’s favorite food is paella and that Jerryd Bayless was born the same year that Bull Durham hit movie theaters (1988).

These days there is no shame for a professional sports team doing whatever it takes to sell more tickets.  The bottom line for most of the teams and leagues is that attendance figures are what they are judged on.  But I hope the Portland Trailblazers don’t overlook their own great story.  More long-term success will come from promoting their own team.

Portland Trailblazers ticket offer

Portland Trailblazers ticket offer

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Posted in Attendance Figures, NBA | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Where are all of the crowds in Beijing?

Posted by ZA on August 12, 2008

We’ve been hearing about all of the excitement in Beijing for what has become the most expensive Olympic Games of all time.  The venues are supposed to be jam packed and tickets are expensive if you can even find them.  So where are all of the people at the 2008 Olympics?

The Guardian reports that BOCOG admits to using “volunteers” to fill empty seats at the Olympic venues.  This practice has been particularly necessary for the non-marquee events like beach volleyball where a handful of matches have been played in-front of thousands of empty seats.  There have been huge crowds at the swim center, but many of the other events aren’t packed.

BOCOG has said that all 6.8 million tickets were already sold out, but there have been ticket releases throughout the first week of the Games.  I suspect that some of the $40 billion in estimated costs for the 2008 Beijing Games was put towards making sure that all seats were sold.  A sell out puts off the image that the events are in-demand and is a sharp contrast to Athens in 2004 when many tickets remained unsold for all but the top events.  BOCOG wants these games to be viewed as the greatest of all-time, so a sold out house that is packed with fans is part of the formula.

There has also been a lot of complaints from Olympic sponsors about poor turnout of fans to the Olympic Green where those sponsors have spent millions on outdoor brand builders.  P.T. Black pans the setup of the Olympic Green in Ad Age, suggesting that a poor layout and lack of food options are just two of the problems that plague the sponsor’s brand zone.  Black compared his experience at the Beijing Olympic Green to “being inside a teenager’s running shoe — hot, damp and unspeakably dirty”.  Not exactly a ringing endorsement for one of the premier outdoor events at the Summer Games.  Although Black does go on to say that the sponsors activations are “interesting”.  Now if those sponsors could only get a few more people there to see what they have to offer.

Posted in Attendance Figures, Olympics | Leave a Comment »

2006-2007 Men’s College Basketball Top 25 Attendance

Posted by ZA on March 28, 2008

Figures on attendance for the 2007-2008 season should be released soon.  But until then, a look back at recent history…
So what college basketball teams drew the largest home crowds?  The 25 top attendance for 2006-2007 season are on the list below.  Stats are courtesy of Prep Ticket.  So what items from the list stood out the most?

* Kentucky, Louisville, Illinois, Wisconsin & Kansas averaging a capacity crowd for the season. 
* But Kentucky being #1 was not a suprise.  They are always at the top.
* Thinking how loud a sold out game in the Carrier Dome (33K) must sound.
* How Duke, Georgetown, Florida and UCLA missed the list.
* How impressive the Big 10 is in supporting  their programs.  I expected the ACC to be great. 
* They love their basketball in middle America.  Not much love out West.

Top 25 Attendance for NCAA Basketball (2006-2007)
1. Kentucky Wildcats – Averaged 23,421 at Rupp Arena (Capacity: 23,500)
2. Syracuse Orange – Averaged 21,516 at Carrier Dome (Capacity: 33,000)
3. North Carolina Tarheels – Averaged 20,693 at Dean Dome (Capacity: 21,750)
4. Tennessee Volunteers – Averaged 19,661 at Thompson-Boling (Capacity: 24,535)
5. Louisville Cardinals – Averaged 18,488 at Freedom Hall (Capacity: 18,865)
6. Ohio State Buckeyes – Averaged 17,530 at Schottenstein (Capacity: 19,200)
7. Wisconsin Badgers – Averaged 17,190 at Kohl Center (Capacity: 17,190)
8. Maryland Terrapins – Averaged 16,822 at Comcast Center (Capacity: 17,950)
9. Arkansas Razorbacks – Averaged 16,720 at Bud Walton Arena (Capacity: 19,200)
10. Illinois Fighting Illini – Averaged 16,618 at Assembly Hall-IL (Capacity: 16,168)
11. Indiana Hoosiers – Averaged 16,474 at Assembly Hall (Capacity: 17,456)
12. Kansas Jayhawks – Averaged 16,300 at Allen Fieldhouse (Capacity: 16,300)
13. Creighton Blue Jays – Averaged 15,909 at Qwest Center (Capacity: 17,560)
14. Marquette Golden Eagles – Averaged 15,345 at Bradley Center (Capacity: 19,000)
15. Michigan State Spartans – Averaged 14,759 at Breslin Center (Capacity: 16,280)
16. Memphis Tigers – Averaged 14,527 at Fedex Forum (Capacity: 18,119)
17. Arizona Wildcats – Averaged 14,202 at McKale Center (Capacity: 14,545)
18. NC State Wolfpack – Averaged 13,952 at RBC Center (Capacity: 19,722)
19. Virginia Cavaliers – Averaged 13,521 at John Paul Jones Arena (Capacity: 15,219)
20. UConn Huskies – Averaged 13,012 at XL Center (Capacity: 16,294)
21. Oklahoma State Cowboys – Averaged 13,008 at Gallagher-Iba (Capacity: 13,611)
22. Texas Longhorns – Averaged 12,696 at Frank Erwin Center (Capacity: 16,755)
23. New Mexico Lobos – Averaged 12,853 at University Arena (Capacity: 18,018)
24. South Carolina Gamecocks – Averaged 12,838 at Colonial Center (Capacity: 18,000)
25. Iowa State Cyclones – Averaged 12,489 at Hilton Coliseum (Capacity: 14,092)

Breakdown by conference, of the top 25 teams above:
Big 10 – 5
ACC – 4
Big East – 4
Big 12 – 4
SEC – 4
Pac 10 – 1
CUSA – 1
MVC – 1
MWC – 1

Posted in Attendance Figures, College Basketball | 3 Comments »

Why can’t the Hornets sell any tickets?

Posted by ZA on February 9, 2008

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, recently took a few shots at the New Orleans Hornets. The “swats” at the Hornets were in-regard to their difficulty selling tickets to home games. So far this season the Hornets are averaging around 12K fans per game, and they need to average more than 14K per game by end of next year to stay in New Orleans.

Cuban said, “Somebody’s got to get off their ass and sell tickets. There’s enough fans to get 16, 17,000 people to come, even if they’re weekend games.” Cubans right, the issue here is the teams lack of effort to generate buzz about their team. They aren’t connecting with the local residents, the business community in New Orleans or tourists visiting the city.

“Whatever it takes to get people in the arena, you gotta do it and that’s what they’re not doing done there.” stated Cuban.

The positive news is that the Hornets currently have approximately 6500 season ticket holders. The Hornets ticket office is offering cheap seating, some as low as $10.00 per seat in the upper-level.  And they offer several affordable mini-plans.  Plus, the team has some exciting young stars like Chris Paul and most important the Hornets have been winning.  Even though they are in the brutal Western Conference, they’ve managed to hold up really well against their competition.

But they’ve had to come from behind the eight ball from as well.  Most notably they had to play the last two seasons away from New Orleans as the city recovered from Hurricane Katrina.  While the played in Oklahoma City they were known as the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets.  And this season, the Hornets started with TV blackouts in certain regions of New Orleans, due to a contract dispute with Charter Communications. And they also lost their VP of Ticket Sales right at the start of the year.

So why can’t the New Orleans Hornets sell more tickets? Here are a few reasons:

1)Their owner, George Shinn, is not a good NBA owner.  He has a reputation for being cheap, and has shown an unwillingness to pay star players their market value.  During his tenure with the team in Charlotte he alienated the fan base with a series of moves, most which were motivated by greed.  But some that just showed his horrible judgement in how to handle himself.  So it’s hard to imagine the fans in the Big Easy are going to be loyal to a team that has an owner at the helm with such a sorted history.  An owner who moved his team once, and has already flirted with another city (OKC).  In short, Shinn is viewed as a scumbag by most of the fans.  George Shinn’s bio is prominently displayed on the Hornets site, and raises questions with me about what kind of family man he is.
2)They are not winning the state. They play 3rd fiddle behind the Saints & LSU. LSU is the sports team in the state. And the Saints are the team for New Orleans. The Hornets need to tap into those ravenous fanbases, especially LSU. Market the team in Baton Rouge. They state that getting Baton Rouge is a goal, but they haven’t made enough push into that market. Offer special deals to Tigers Alums. Get some former LSU stars involved in the Hornets. If they get the LSU fan base, they could increase numbers dramatically.

3) No one recognizes the players. Get the community and state to relate to the team. Don’t market the opponents so much, instead try getting people behind the stars you have on your own team. Chris Paul, Tyson Chandler, etc. need to be the focal points of all marketing efforts. It’ll start slow, but eventually pay off big.  And most importantly the Hornets need to pay whatever necessary to retain their brightest stars, like Chris Paul.  Are you listening George Shinn?  The fans will resist connecting if they think the player they show the love will be gone soon (think Baron Davis).

4)Apologize for OKC. It was unfortunate that the team ever had to move as a result of the Katrina tragedgy.  But the Hornets relocated to Oklahoma City for last two years and even wore jerseys with Oklahoma City on them.  The fans in OKC embraced the Hornets as their own, and Shinn open flirted with the new city.  That’s hard for any fan to see – you’re team sporting the identity of another city.  Everyone should be thankful that OKC opened their hearts to the visiting team, but now the Hornets (and Shinn) need to reaffirm their unconditional love for Louisiana and New Orleans.

So what should the Hornets do right now?  First priority should be to lock up Chris Paul, the face of the franchise for years to come, to a Max Deal.  End the rumors that the Hornets might not give Paul the max extension.  That level of commitment will show the Hornets fans that the team is committed to winning.  Then start the marketing campaigns even stronger than before.  Get the faces of Paul, Chandler and Peja out there in the community so fans can relate.  Now is the time because the team is headed for a playoff spot.  Make the goal to be the best home venue for playoff games (think Golden State Warriors) from the first playoff game on.  In addition, the Hornets marketing brass needs to hatch solutions to start to relate to the LSU fans and Saints fans.  Do some cross-promo stuff with the teams to try to increase attendance.  Invite LSU basketball team into the New Orleans Coliseum for a series of home games in coming years.  Try to align themselves with the LSU community, as that rabid fanbase can give the Hornets an immediate jolt in the arm. Even consider adding a special yellow/purple uniform to be worn on unique occasions.  And before you say a uniform with LSU colors is crazy, where do you think the teal blue color originated from?  Remember the team started in Charlotte, North Carolina and was trying to appeal to fans of the Tarheels.

So I say do it now New Orleans Hornets and you can start to turn the corner towards being a dominate team in the NBA.

Official site of the New Orleans Hornets.

Posted in Attendance Figures, Improve Attendance, NBA | 2 Comments »

2007 NFL Attendance Figures

Posted by ZA on January 26, 2008

Overall attendance at NFL games in 2007 exceeded 17M fans. 256 games were played and those games averaged 69K fans per game.  And from looking at the individual team stats there are a few conclusions about what it takes to have a top attendance in the NFL.

First, you have to build a large stadium.  The Skins built the largest and still pack the house.  While the Colts sit at the bottom of the attendance list, and still average more than 100% attendance for each game.  And the Colts new stadium will only be a hair larger than the RCA Dome, so don’t expect the Colts position to change anytime soon.  Second, you have to build a following over many years.  Of the top 10 teams in attendance only 2 teams (Panthers & Ravens) have been around for less than 20 years.  Note: I’m choosing to ignore the period that the Browns were not in Cleveland.  The Skins, Giants, Jets, Chiefs, Broncos, Bills, Browns & Dolphins have been establishing their loyal fan bases for generations.  Tickets owned by those fans have been passed down through families for generations.  And with these teams the support is not based on just wins & losses over one season, these fans loyalty last more than one season.  Which is how the Dolphins & Browns numbers have stayed high despite some tough seasons lately.

Highest Average Attendance by NFL Team in 2007:
1) 88,090 – Washington Redskins
2) 78,731 – New York Giants
3) 77,107 – New York Jets
4) 76,777 – Kansas City Chiefs
5) 76,612 – Denver Broncos *
6) 73,403 – Carolina Panthers
7) 73,001 – Cleveland Browns
8 ) 72,229 – Miami Dolphins
9) 71,153 – Baltimore Ravens *
10) 71,055 – Buffalo Bills
11) 70,805 – Green Bay Packers
12) 70,520 – Houston Texans
13) 70,005 – New Orleans Saints *
14) 69,143 – Tennessee Titans *
15) 68,756 – New England Patriots *
16) 68,396 – Atlanta Falcons
17) 68,194 – Seattle Seahawks *
18) 68,170 – Philadelphia Eagles
19) 68,028 – San Francisco 49ers
20) 65,790 – Cincinnati Bengals *
21) 65,502 – San Diego Chargers
22) 65,316 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
23) 65,301 – Jacksonville Jaguars
24) 64,581 – Arizona Cardinals
25) 63,535 – Dallas Cowboys
26) 63,256 – Minnesota Vikings
27) 63,044 – St. Louis Rams
28) 62,158 – Chicago Bears *
29) 62,084 – Pittsburgh Steelers
30) 61,305 – Detroit Lions
31) 59,110 – Oakland Raiders
32) 57,305 – Indianapolis Colts *

* = 9 teams that averaged more fans than seats available for home games. Averaged higher than 100% capacity. They can achieve these b/c of standing room only ticket sales. The Raiders averaged the worst at only 93% of capacity.

Source: Sports Business Journal Volume 10, Issue 36

Posted in Attendance Figures, NFL | 3 Comments »