One of the impacts of the pandemic is that some athletic budgets may be adversely affected – not only for this year, but perhaps for several years to come. As a result, it can be expected that athletic administrators may look to increase home game revenue to provide a little relief.
It should not be assumed, however, that increasing gate receipts is the only source of additional money. Revenue also would include income from refreshment stands, increased signage and advertising, marketing efforts to increase attendance and other creative steps that might be initiated.
Beyond the effects of COVID-19 on the budget, athletic directors can also increase home game revenue for other reasons as well with the following approaches.
Increasing Gate Receipts
While league schedules and some non-league contests are usually arranged on a two-year home-and-away basis, try to convince an opponent to move its turn to host back to your stadium. Why? If your stadium has lights and your opponent does not, the switch could be presented as an opportunity for their parents, friends and students to see the team play later in the day, when it would be more convenient. Also, your stadium might be a better venue from a quality standpoint.
The possibility of moving an opponent’s home contest to your facility can be sweetened by offering to pay for their bus. When you factor in the extra tickets that will be sold, you should still earn enough additional gate revenue to cover this expenditure. When looking for teams to offer this opportunity, one should only extend an invitation to schools that normally have a fan base that travels well. You obviously want as many fans as possible.
Also, you might consider hosting a special soccer doubleheader and, if you can get a couple of pre-season ranked teams, you should attract soccer aficionados apart from fans from each school and could also draw college recruiters. This would be a great marketable event!
Refreshment Stand Income
Clearly, if you can attract more fans to contests, more sales – and more profit – will result from operating your refreshment stand. Therefore, this aspect of increasing home game revenue is directly tied to marketing and promotional efforts. Some people may have to have an additional reason for attending beyond simply watching the game, which obviously is the ultimate purpose.
Marketing and Promotional Efforts
Instead of simply opening the ticket booth and collecting money from fans to watch the game, there are things that can be done to encourage and entice more people to attend your contests. The following represent a few successful ideas. They may not be applicable and work in every setting, but they are worthy of consideration.
Signage and Advertising
Due to the pandemic, many small businesses such as restaurants and retail stores suffered financially in a major way, and they may not be a good source as advertisers in your venues. Forbes, a business media company, however, pointed out in a report that some companies did well during this time. They included grocery stores with home delivery, cleaning services, suppliers of disinfectant products and real estate in some areas. Depending upon the economy in your community, it would be worth reaching out and exploring potential sponsorships with businesses that were not negatively affected by COVID-19. Even during challenging economic times, there are solutions for budget shortfalls. Those solutions may take a little thought, creativity, time and effort; however, the answer is there and it could be as easy as increasing home game revenue.
Dr. David Hoch is a former athletic director at Loch Raven High School in Towson, Maryland (Baltimore County). He assumed this position in 2003 after nine years as director of athletics at Eastern Technological High School in Baltimore County. He has 24 years experience coaching basketball, including 14 years on the collegiate level. Hoch, who has a doctorate in sports management from Temple (Pennsylvania) University, is past president of the Maryland State Athletic Directors Association, and he formerly was president of the Maryland State Coaches Association. He has had more than 700 articles published in professional magazines and journals, as well as four textbook chapters. He is the author of a book entitled Blueprint for Better Coaching. Hoch is a member of the NFHS High School Today Publications Committee.