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Increasing Home Game Revenue After the Pandemic

By Dr. David Hoch, CMAA on April 06, 2021 hst Print

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.

  • Schedule a local, popular radio station to set up at one of your stadium games. Often the radio personalities will arrive in the station’s decorated van, set up and play music, distribute logo t-shirts and hats, sign autographs and take selfies. The radio station likes the publicity and public relations aspect, and it will attract more individuals to your venue!
  • Arrange for a local hot dog or hamburger business to set up and sell their products at a home contest. On these occasions, the refreshment stand would agree not to sell their items, and you would use a 40-60 percent split of the profits from the sale of the hot dogs or hamburgers. The local establishment not only earns 60 percent of the profit, but it also receives great exposure and invaluable advertising. Meanwhile, the refreshment stand will have greater sales of drinks, potato chips and other items, which creates a win-win situation. The prospect of being able to purchase these products, when promoted ahead of time, will attract families looking for a unique dinner option prior to a game.
  • Honor health-care workers, first-responders and military personnel at designated contests. These individuals would be admitted free by wearing their uniform. Friends, family and community members will also commonly attend these types of events to support them. This type of effort, therefore, accomplishes two major goals – showing appreciation and perhaps generating greater gate receipts.
  • Host a youth team night, for example, at an evening soccer match in the stadium. The young people in uniform would be admitted free and there would have to be an adult coach for every five players. The adults with the team, parents and family members would have to purchase tickets, and there would be a boost in refreshment stand sales for the evening – with little kids running around, that’s a guarantee.
  • Host a four-team, two-day in-season tournament. If your state association rules allow for this provision, this imitative not only provides two games for your team in most sports, but it can also be very profitable. To maximize your profits, set the entry fee for the three teams high enough to cover the complete cost of officials. This means that the gate, t-shirt and program sales, and refreshment stand sales represent pure profit. It is also important to research potential teams and choose those with a fan base that travels well to ensure that you will have a full house.

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.