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The other day, I received an interesting question from a reader of WomenTalkSports.com. The individual, a college student, said:
“I’m working on a project to increase attendance at a women’s basketball tournament. Because this is your specialty, I was hoping you could offer any available tips or resources you’ve encountered on the best way to achieve this.”
To be completely honest, I didn’t know a good answer to give him. My personal feeling, as an ex-college basketball player, is that it’s a complex issue that involves many social, cultural, athletic talent and (obviously) financial factors.
Below are some of the responses I received. What are your thoughts? Interested in continuing this conversation, as many of my friends found it worthwhile to answer.
Question: What are some ways to increase attendance to women’s college basketball games?
@loisheilig: “That is a tough question. But if there were more games on TV someone might watch & decide they would like to go see one. And keep the prices down.”
Sports Girl Kat: (speaking from her personal experience): “Giveaways such as such as iPod Touches, a pair of Red Sox tickets, gift certificates, and a semester’s worth of textbooks.” “T-shirts, free popcorn and soda, as well as competitions between students.”Have a student DJ spin between warm-ups and the game. Dare really popular students to bring as many friends as possible – if they bring 15, they get a coupon for several pizzas. Find out what your non-sports fans will come out to a non-sporting event for, and offer that in conjunction with a basketball game.”
Jayda Evans: (speaking with WNBA perspective) “I would have thought the W’s Live Access would helped, but only a few games aired without constant buffering. If you can’t get coverage, you have to see the product to develop some sort of connection that pulls you to the arena. I’d also say more weekend matchups and probably day-time starts during true summer months. More families can attend games without disrupting kids’ sleep sked. Lastly, I’d say drop some prices down or offer more perks with the ticket. Even college ball in some areas are trying to entice and people love free stuff or the feeling of getting a real good deal.”
Chic Runner: “I would agree with keeping the prices down, especially for students in this economy. I went to a very small private university and they had some of the same problems. They had fun halftime shows during the basketball games and students got in free. They also had giveaways and sometimes contests where you could win free pizza from the local pizzeria if you made a half court shot. We also had a mascot that did funny things to keep students entertained before during and after the game. Getting students involved by creating a ‘student section’ is a good idea and giving away t-shirts for everyone to wear to show their support is always a fun idea. We had lime green shirts and were the bleacher creatures. Sounds corny but it was fun.”
Rob Mars: “This is limited to the WNBA and may be a bit off-topic, but I’ve sometimes wondered why the WNBA hasn’t targeted smaller markets more. While it seems counterintuitive at first, smaller cities like Omaha would be thrilled to have a professional basketball team. I think you’re as likely, if not more, to find there the kind of deep-rooted, fervent support a professional team needs to thrive.”
C&R’s Stanford Women’s Basketball Blog: “reach out to female groups and offer heavily discounted tickets, and as previously posted, give freebies or giveaways to generate more excitement once there. Just tossing out T-shirts, plastic balls, or other inexpensive trinkets (doesn’t have to be ipods) at the game gets the fans so excited.” Parents and girls in general will say, yes, I would like to attend a women’s professional, but it is such a low priority that they can’t seem to commit by themselves. However, if asked to join in a group of girls, car pool, make it a party-like atmosphere, then more families will commit. I have found that the best groups to target are girls in middle school and elementary school, as parents will chaperone, making the group larger, and they will also see what a great product it is. Make the ticket discount significant (you know they will buy concessions).” Also, “offer a block of tickets for a discount, instead of a per ticket discount. This entices groups of 8 or 10 to look at that package and start getting more people to attend to lower their per ticket pirce.