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How to Attract Fans t0Sporting Events

How to Attract Fans to Sporting Events

With so many easy opportunities to watch sports on TVs, tablets, computers, or just out at the local bar with some friends, many people may be wondering what would make a sports fan invest in going to a live game. After all, if you’re sitting up high in a stadium, it can be tough to see what’s going on, and even harder to follow without the camera work and live commentary. Toss in the price of a ticket, and it’s enough to throw the brakes on any trip downtown.

As it turns out, how to attract fans to sporting events is a question that is constantly on the minds of franchisees and owners. Yes, a pro sports team is a billion-dollar asset with a great deal of earning potential, but you can’t take a packed stadium for granted. 

It’s crucial to understand that your franchise is a branded product that needs to deliver an over-the-top experience for fans to be willing to fight the traffic and wait in the inevitable lines. Creating that can’t-miss, live game vibe garners new fans and creates lifetime enthusiasts, delivering an environment that’s welcoming and easy to navigate despite the crowds. 

With a great in-stadium experience, any team can enjoy a dedicated fan base that will brave any obstacle if it means not missing a game. Here are some of the most important qualities to consider when understanding how to attract fans to sporting events. 

A Home Field Advantage

What makes people crave a seat at a live game? Believe it or not, it isn’t all about making it to the playoffs. In fact, even a team with lackluster on-field performance can have the most die-hard following if their home game experience is number one in the league. 

For instance, the Portland Timbers were ranked 8th in the MLS Western Conference in 2022, but they have had no trouble filling seats with happy guests. From 2010 to when COVID hit in 2020, they had multiple sellout games every single year, and in three of those seasons, they packed the stands for all their games. They also had a stellar post-COVID resurgence as fans rushed the gates and brought their attendance numbers back to nearly pre-COVID levels. 

This was possible because the Timbers have made their games some of the most fun and entertaining experiences anywhere in the league. They have incredible promotions, tremendous interaction opportunities between players and fans, and they go out of their way to make sure a trip to the stadium is convenient and smooth for everyone who bought a ticket. 

Teams that invest in giving back to fans who come to a live game will be rewarded with a loyal and dedicated fan base that creates a magnetic atmosphere for people wondering if this might be the season to buy a ticket. And once they take the plunge, they’ll be counting the days until the next home game. 

Simple to Navigate

As games get more and more packed, existing strategies for moving people around are going to quickly become overwhelmed. That’s going to translate to longer wait times to get in and out of games as well as bottlenecks at access points around the stadium. 

The simple fact is, even fans who have been coming to games for years are going to start questioning their loyalty if franchises don’t adopt tech solutions to handle the volume. Building new fan bases—and keeping the ones you have—is all about making sure big crowds are handled efficiently.  

Of course, the vast majority of people only consider growing crowds a problem if they inhibit their ability to move around, and facial authentication is a solution that’s actually making it easier for stadiums to handle the crush. These solutions can reduce wait times at ticketing points by up to 4x while saving venue operators up to $8000 a year per Express Access lane. On top of that, patrons really enjoy the ease and convenience of verifying their tickets with a simple smile, and they can even link all of their group’s tickets to a single profile. 

Crucially, while speeding up entry times might not seem glamorous, it can make a huge impact on fans when it comes to creating that all-important welcoming home game vibe. A quick ticket line has never scored a PK in a shootout, but they remind guests that their team cares about giving them a great experience from the first whistle to the final play. Guests have more time to browse before the game starts, and it makes it much easier for hesitant parents to turn game day into a family event and contributes to creating lifelong supporters who always feel like a part of the team. 

Amazing Food on the Fly

Sports fans’ palates have evolved a lot in the last decade, and the average guest is a much more enthusiastic and diverse eater. Stadium vendors are still selling peanuts and Cracker Jack, of course, but a walk around your home ground is beginning to look more like a food court at a trendy street festival than a ballpark relic. 

Ravenous fans are being treated to ramen, sushi, BBQ, poke bowls, Thai curries, and a smorgasbord of international cuisine that make a trip to the vendor stations nearly as exciting as a spectacular save. However, all these choices are also creating long lines, and that can be a frustrating obstacle for hungry stadium-goers. If you’re wondering how to attract fans to sporting events, enticing them with great food they don’t have time to get is at the top of the “How Not to Do It” list!

Fortunately, the same facial authentication technology that can speed up ticket lines can also be used to get pizzas, french fries, and plenty of other delicious options into their hands in no time flat. By linking payment information to facial signatures, fans won’t have to worry about missing a moment while exploring all the food options at the game. 

That’s a recipe for success that ensures every guest—whether they’re a lifer or a first-timer—has a fulfilling (and filling!) stadium experience for the price of a ticket. 

Creating an Unforgettable Game Experience

Wicket is leading the way in facial authentication solutions for major sports leagues, and it’s a key technology that’s redefining how to attract fans to sporting events. Using off-the-shelf hardware and state-of-the-art software design, their platform is getting fans into the game faster than ever with 99.7% accuracy and a 0% reported false positive rate.

We’re proud to be a partner helping major sports franchises across the spectrum take the game into the future. Contact us today to learn more about facial authentication and how teams around the world are implementing it.

About Wicket

Wicket Software is a privacy-first facial authentication platform provider with patented computer vision AI technology that enables sensational event experiences for fans, guests, and employees with frictionless touchpoints that delight users and strengthen security.

Wicket has been in use since 2020 and deployed for facial ticketing, credentialing, access control, and payments in numerous sports stadiums, at major conferences, and in corporate office environments.

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