November 21st, 2013 12:30 PM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
Tags: San Francisco, SEC, Wi Fi
The Southeastern Conference is the leader in terms of college football attendance in America. That’s not likely to change anytime soon because the SEC boasts the biggest stadiums in the nation as well. More seats, more rumps to fill them.
But leading the country in attendance ain’t what it used to be. Last season, nine of the SEC’s 14 schools saw a decline in game attendance. That trend can be blamed on many things — price of tickets and parking, lack of Wi-Fi and cell coverage in stadiums, high-definition TVs, more games on television than ever before, etc, etc.
The SEC announced in May that it had taken notice and created the “Working Group on Fan Experience.” That team of SEC administrators found that cell and Wi-Fi service needed to be upgraded at each stadium (at a cost of about $2 million per). They decided more replays were needed inside stadium. Student attendance would have to be improved. The quality of games was also a topic of discussion (which gets back to our old push for a nine-game conference slate).
All that is well and good, but at some point an SEC school is going to take the big dollar approach. Instead of trying to appeal to the average Joes — who in many cases have already been priced right out of games — some school will eventually just go ahead and target the uber-rich. The country club approach already exists in the pro ranks.
Most NFL stadiums seat fewer than 70,000 fans. Yet those buildings boast more club seats and luxury suites than the typical college venues. If you can’t get the little fish anymore, make sure you land the whales.
In Santa Clara — where the San Francisco 49ers will soon be moving — the new stadium under construction is at the forefront of technology, too. In addition to massive boxes and suites for the wealthy, the 49ers new home is being built with the 21st century sports fan in mind:
How long before an SEC school decides to replace 10,000 to 20,000 seats with larger, more opulent skyboxes? How long before a school goes all-in with technology, as the 49ers are doing?
Our guess… give it 10 years and someone will have tried it.
If going to a game once again becomes a status symbol, an exclusive “thing to do,” it will drive up demand for tickets and put more money in schools’ coffers long-term. Sounds good. And it’s just a question of when, not if.
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