SEC Looking to Enhance Stadium Experience For Fans

Dec 3, 2011; Atlanta, GA, USA; Detail view of the SEC logo before the 2011 SEC championship game between the LSU Tigers and the Georgia Bulldogs at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

For the fourth consecutive season, the SEC has seen average attendance drop after reaching a high of 76,844 back in 2008. In fact, last season nine of the 14 SEC schools saw their attendance drop, which is a troubling sign to officials in the Southeastern Conference. Because of those figures, finding a way to improve the fan experience will be one of the top issues at the SEC’s annual spring meetings.

It’s a real issue,” said Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley, via CBS Sports. “A confluence of things is coming together and the world has changed. We have to change with it.”

Another man who is leading the charge is Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin, who heads the Working Group on Fan Experience that is helping to lead the charge of enhancing the fan experience in stadiums.

“Every industry that depends on people showing up for your events has to worry about this one,” said Stricklin. “One of the biggest challenges we have to deal with is how good the product has become on TV. And we have to make the in-stadium experience as good or better than watching it at home on TV.”

The SEC Working Group is already focused on improving in a few areas that could go a long way towards getting fans in the seats.

One of the first areas of improvement, though it will be costly, could be more reliable WiFi and cell phone service in the stadiums.

“Our next generation of fans is used to staying connected. They should be able to communicate in real time with somebody on the other side of the stadium,” said Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart. “It’s quite an investment but we have to make it.”

Programs will also begin to look at student attendance. Schools around the conference saw their student attendance dip and they have reduced the number of student tickets provided as a result. That allows the universities to use the additional tickets for alumni members.

For an idea at just how bad student attendance can be, Alabama saw only 69.4 percent of student tickets were used during the 2012 season, according to the Crimson White student newspaper. That is a troubling number for a school that has produced three national championships in the past four years.

Replay is another area where the stadiums need to improve. In the past, the video operators could only show certain replays and they could not provide them in slo-mo. If a play was under review, you would be lucky to see the play at all. When people at home get the luxury of watching the reviewed play numerous times from multiple angles, that gives the home experience the edge.

One final area that the work group is looking to improve is the quality of games.

The SEC is looking to enhance their conference schedule, which would certain result in an improved quality of games, so they are already on top of that issue. As it currently stands, people are less likely to go see a top-tier program face off against a random FBS directional school at home than watching a conference game.

How do you think teams should enhance their stadium experiences? If they add the WiFi and other suggestions, would you be more likely to attend a game? Sound off in the comments section and share your thoughts.

For those who were wondering, here are the attendance numbers from the past four seasons:

YEAR TOTAL
2008 76,844
2009 76,288
2010 76,719
2011 75,832
2012 75,538

[H/T: CBS Sports]

Topics: Sec Football

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  • John Goode

    It has more to do with the economy and privilege than anything. The common man is fighting to get and retain a job, and those with some money don’t want to waste it on top row endzone corner seats where the players look like ants. I can grill in my back yard and buy beer at the grocery store and save $500.

  • Tiger73

    And a better view in my living room.

  • Joshua Beman

    I personally feel that it’s not necessarily about what the stadiums can provide, but rather what they can ensure. I would gladly go see more games if I was “ensured” to get a secure ticket at a decent price. My suggestion would be to cut down on the allotted ticket number and simply sell them directly through the University at a standard rate. This, alongside a strict limited number of tickets sold to an individual, would keep the risk of scalping down and ticket sales higher because of their availability and affordable rate. Now-a-days it’s tough to get tickets because of people hiking the prices up on sites such as Stubhub, and the additional risk of fake tickets outside of the game. There should be a better system in place for “ensuring” that people who buy the tickets will actually go to the game.

  • Signel

    This is so easy to fix. Make it where it won’t cost a fan $1200 to take his family.

  • April Detwiler VanGieson

    Quit selling all the tickets to the companies who then do a 500% plus fees price. Leave it up to the schools and conferences to sell the tickets. I would love to go. I can’t at what the ticket prices are.

    • David Doss

      You are spot on April. I will never again get sucked into the sellers fees like I did in the past..make the tickets to where I can buy them at face value, which is too high, and I will be at every game

  • Grant A Cole

    What a bunch of morons. If the SEC (or any other conference for that matter), want to increase attendance, DECREASE TICKET PRICES! Keep ticket prices low. Allow people to afford to attend the games and they’ll be there in droves! They want to attend! IT takes a special kind of greedy to fail to see that. Open your eyes, SEC.

  • http://www.facebook.com/NotMozart Pete Emily McPherson

    I live nowhere near my favorite school and no one has the money to pay what sports teams are asking. It’s greed plain and simple and ignoring the fans in deference to the dollar. I will never go to a game again unless the price structure its drastically altered.

  • Carol Palmer

    I would attend more games but the tickets are very expensive even for nose bleed seats-you spend all the time and money to get there and cant get a decent seat-no average working class person can afford season tickets because they get higher every year.

    • David Doss

      Simple as Carol said, forget the WIFI for the moment and drop your prices and sell them to where I can buy them from the school and I will be at every game!

  • Jason Haggard

    Cutting ticket prices would help the average family that are already on tight budgets, but the biggest issue is scalpers! Get rid of them and make it a felony if you are caught….. and open ticket sales up to the public so the average person or family can get tickets. The other issue is Stub Hub and any other ticket sales place get rid of them too, only sale tickets through the school.

  • Mark Ayers

    Ummm how about ticket price drop..

  • koine2002

    It’s the law of supply and demand. Your supply is exceeding your demand. You need to adjust the supply chain to increase demand. You do one of three things to get the supply and demand curves to intersect, two of which are guaranteed to work and one which is a gamble. 1) Decrease the available supply (guaranteed to get the curves to meet), 2) Decrease the cost of obtaining your product (guaranteed to work), or 3) attempt to make you supply more attractive at the current price and supply levels (a gamble that rarely works). It is apparent that students aren’t using their tickets that they paid for in their student fees. You’re adjusting the supply there by decreasing the available supply: smart move. You clearly don’t want to Now, as for the non-student tickets, the amenities aren’t going to do all that much for increasing demand. You likely don’t want to decrease the available stadium seats (unless your Baylor and want to use the tarp of shame). Decrease the price and you’ll see the demand going back up.

  • Matthew Lindsey

    The price of tickets is a huge factor in why I don’t go to the games. I watch every game my favorite team plays on television, and it’s a lot cheaper than going to the game. It just costs way too much to go these days. I used to go to almost every home game Alabama played when I was a kid, but now I just can’t afford that. I hope the SEC and the universities realize that the middleman is robbing them blind, and the fans are not able to afford the live experience accordingly.

  • Steven Murray

    It was funny to me that I traveled last season to watch Texas A&M thump Mississippi State, for $65/ticket. But this season I won’t likely be watching the Bulldogs at Kyle Field because the typical ticket price for any conference opponent at A&M usually starts at $90/seat. Then of course the price goes up depending on the perceived quality of the opponent, such as last season’s games against Florida and Louisiana State. Next season’s game against Alabama will likely be the most expensive ticket ever for an A&M sporting event.

    Lower ticket prices, make it cheaper for a family of 4 to attend, get rid of the silly 2-night minimum stays at local hotels (if the SEC can even control that, which I’m guessing the conference cannot) – all things that would bring the cost of attending a college football game down.

  • Jenifer Griffin Germer

    I will be at the games no matter what they do or don’t do. Always have…..Always will!!

  • Jennifer Roberts Bowman

    I think that it has a lot to do with connectivity but also is related to the level of information available to the home viewer. During a ball game the commentators give insight into the players’ history and current stats along with live-action play-by-play that live viewers miss out on. I know that – especially during what can sometimes be marathon baseball games – I would appreciate hearing more than just the players’ names and positions called out over the loudspeakers.

  • Brian Fendley

    It’s more about the money than the experience.

  • anony

    “The SEC is looking to enhance their conference schedule” — I think you mean “non-conference schedule.”

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