If you’ve watched a professional football game on TV recently, you might think it’s business as usual for the NFL this year. After all, four of the top five most watched TV shows last week were NFL games! The problem is teams are having trouble getting people off their couches and into the stadium. So, the NFL’s taking some very unusual steps to help football thrive during the economic downturn. Here’s what they’re doing, according to USA Today:
- They’re offering more “layaway” payment plans. In the past, ticket demand was strong enough that most teams could afford to make fans pay for their season tickets in one lump sum. This year, only half of the league’s home games were sold out by September. So many teams have set up payment plans, where fans can now buy their season tickets in installments.
- They’re enforcing a new “Fan Code of Conduct.” That’s a set of rules to help teams crack down on drunken or abusive fans. For example: It sets limits on the number of alcoholic beverages fans can buy at a game. The goal is to make the experience of going to a football game more family friendly.
- Football teams are offering All-You-Can-Eat seats. We’ve talked about this popular trend in baseball parks before. Now, you’ll be seeing it in more football stadiums too. Basically, it’s a section where fans can pay a slightly higher price for tickets, in exchange for eating all the hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, and soft drinks they can handle.
- One more thing you’ll be seeing in the NFL this year: More direct communication between teams and fans. This summer, several teams held “town hall” meetings, where season ticket holders got to speak directly to players and owners via live teleconference! In Atlanta, new season ticket buyers are being thanked with a personalized video from team owner Arthur Blank. In the video, Blank holds a mock press conference where he announces each new fan by name, and presents a team jersey with the fan’s name on the back.
As one executive puts it: The economic downturn has reminded teams that fans are one thing they should never take for granted.