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Ticket Realizing

Posted by GM/VP of Fan Operations on Thursday, July 16, 2009

Each year thousands of fans flock to ticket resellers to find seats for sold-out games and often times buy tickets for three, four and five times the face value of the seats. Some teams have fought resellers where others have embraced them and formed resale sponsorships.

Most often these sponsorships are profitable for owners, but sports conglomerates (ownership groups controlling multiple franchises) would be better served through synergy and Ticket Realizing.

Synergy: The essence of linking mutually controlled products for the advancement of the larger entity.

I wrote that definition. Pretty good, huh?

Ticket Realizing will grow multiple sport and entertainment products by selling readily available tickets of one product with free tickets to a high demand event.

By my count there are 30 owners (list at the bottom of the article) of the four major American sports that own teams in multiple leagues (for example and owner of an NHL team owning a team in the NBA – or – an NFL owner also owning an MLS team). Some of these owners have multiple franchises in the same market and others own franchises across several markets. Ticket sales for some of these teams are so competitive that they are always in contention to sell out.

OK, sports conglomerates listen up, because I’ve got an idea for you: You’ve got a product that sells out and one that doesn’t, right? Sell season tickets/ticket packages to the one that doesn’t sell out and include free tickets to the game that does sell out. Dolla Dolla Bills.

Things to consider in the sale of these tickets:

  • Depending on the quality of the seats, ownership may gain, lose or break even on these ticket sales.
  • It should be assumed that concessions, parking, merchandise, etc. revenue will increase at the packaged team’s games where the sellout will remain the same.
  • This promotion should be very easy to market:
    • Fans automatically get the tickets to the game they want to see.
    • The fan will likely be spending as much for the season tickets and single game package as they would to go to a reseller like StubHub and buy just the single game tickets.
  • Regardless of any profit from the ticket sales both sports are being grown whether it be the fans of the sellout sport now attending the non-sellout’s games or vice versa.
  • Presumably, the increased ticket sales for the second-tier sport would increase total attendance numbers and, therefore, make sponsorships, advertising, radio and television deals more lucrative by showing the marketers the greater attendance.

We already know from a 2004 study in Sport Marketing Quarterly that the scarcity of tickets drives a fan’s desire to have them. A hypothetical situation was posed to fans with low and high identification with the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team and their playing a game in the Sweet Sixteen against UNC. From “Likelihood of Attending a Sporting Event as a Function of Ticket Scarcity and Team Identification:”

Fans learning that the ticket was scarce and highly identified fans were particularly likely to report an interest in attending the game, and these two variables did not interact…

The scarcity effect detailed here can explain much of the interest in these items. Individuals marketing such items could likely increase interest in the items and, potentially, sales price by providing the impression that the items in question are rare (a common strategy among merchants in this arena)…

The second potential move can be explained by the reactance theory. According to this theory, individuals react strongly to situations in which their freedom to choose an outcome or behavioral option has been removed. Typically, they will respond in a manner that reestablishes their freedom of choice. It follows that in sport consumption environments, fans desire scarce tickets because they want to maintain their freedom of choice with respect to attendance decisions; rather than having their choice made for them by virtue of a sellout, fans want to choose which events they will attend.

This tells us that consumers are more likely to buy a product if they think it is rare regardless of their previous interest level; that they will likely make a decision to buy it out of desperation to get that product because it keeps them in control of the situation.

Herein lies the key: If advertised that this is the only way to get tickets to the sellout not just at face value, but free, fans will jump at the opportunity to buy ticket packages to the other product.

Cue the haters. “Oh good for you. You came up with a promotion. Bravo! These things are thought of and shot down a thousand times over. Besides, this is for too narrow a segment of sports owners. You need:

1)      A sports conglomerate.

2)      It is only an option for those conglomerates with teams in the same market.

3)      Those owners with multiple teams in the same market also need to have competitive ticket sales and come close to selling out every game for this to work!”

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

1)      Yes, this is only for the owner that has investments in multiple teams.

2)      NO! They do not need to be in the same market and here’s why: A few years ago the marketing team at New England Sports Ventures saw that their MLB team, the Boston Red Sox, were among baseball’s top attractions and that they could market to the transplant fans of Red Sox Nation with what they called “Red Sox DestiNations.” Packages included, among other things: tickets to a Sox game, trip accommodations, and a meet and greet with a player. Now, NESV owns a Single-A affiliate of the major league club, the Salem Red Sox. Why couldn’t the group market some sort of DestiNation package for fans of the Salem Red Sox to go see the major league club and get tickets to a Salem game? This isn’t something just NESV could do, any of the ownership groups could do it!

NCAA Division I programs could benefit from this promotion better than pro owners.

How was this not thought of by college sport marketers before? College athletic departments own a monopoly on their fans, a fan of one college team will likely identify with the rest of the school’s teams. It’s rare to find a fan of Ohio State football and Michigan hockey.

“I want to see Duke play UNC. Oh, it’s sold out? I’m shocked!” If you want guaranteed seats to the big game you need season tickets to one of the school’s other sports. It could be further manipulated by offering a specific game for the draw product depending on the sport the fan chose to get season tickets too. Ditto for the quality and price of the seats they pick for said season ticket package. Duke as an example:

  • Duke’s men’s basketball team and men’s lacrosse team are consistently among the most popular and most competitive in their respective sport each season, with Coach K’s guys taking the cake as one of the greatest draws in college sports.
  • It wouldn’t make sense, then, for Duke lacrosse to be the team to market season tickets for to get a Duke-UNC basketball game. Duke football has not had a winning record since 1994. In that time their record has been 26-133, including 4 winless seasons.
  • That struggling brand would benefit more from this promotion than any other. Buy a season ticket package to the football team and that gets you the Duke-UNC game. Buy season tickets to another sport and maybe you get Boston College; another, Virginia; another, Georgia Tech; another, an out-of-conference team, etc., etc.

Examples of package ideas similar to Ticket Realizing:

  • Under the Kraft Group season ticket holders for the New England Revolution have access to Patriots TicketExchange where they can purchase tickets from season ticket holders. They also have a special pre-sale to major Gillette Stadium events.
  • Despite separate ownerships, this June the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Browns franchises offered the MVP Suite Package of one Browns game and two Indians game.

Fans would embrace this opportunity to get season tickets to a sport, plus the game they wanted to see for the same price as what it costs to buy tickets to the draw product from a reseller. Ticket sales and revenue would ultimately jump across the board. Everyone wins.

Here’s a list I’ve compiled of owners in the 4 major American sports and other sports franchises they own. NASCAR teams, sport venues, private enterprises, hosted tournaments, and things of that nature were not included. The list isn’t sorted in any particular way. If I was wrong about something or missed anyone or anything that should be on the list, please let me know.

Owner Team Sport League
Jerry Reinsdorf Chicago Bulls Basketball NBA
Chicago White Sox Baseball MLB
Phoenix Coyotes Hockey NHL
Arthur Blank Atlanta Falcons Football NFL
Georgia Force Football AFL
Jerry Jones Dallas Cowboys Football NFL
Dallas Desperados Football AFL
Clark Hunt Kansas City Chiefs Football NFL
FC Dallas Soccer MLS
Columbus Crew Soccer MLS
Kraft Group New England Patriots Football NFL
New England Revolution Soccer MLS
Paul Allen Seattle Seahawks Football NFL
Portland Trail Blazers Basketball NBA
Seattle Sounders FC Soccer MLS
Malcolm Glazer Tampa Bay Buccaneers Football NFL
Manchester United FC Soccer Premier League
Atlanta Spirit LLC Atlanta Hawks Basketball NBA
Atlanta Thrashers Hockey NHL
Dan Gilbert Cleveland Cavaliers Basketball NBA
Lake Erie Monsters Hockey AHL
Kroenke Sports Enterprises Denver Nuggets Basketball NBA
Colorado Avalanche Hockey NHL
Colorado Crush Football AFL
Colorado Mammoth Soccer MLS
Colorado Rapids Lacrosse NLL
Arsenal FC Soccer Premier League
Arsenal LFC Soccer Women’s Premier League
Pat Bowlen Denver Broncos Football NFL
Denver Outlaws Lacrosse MLL
Palace Sports & Entertainment Detroit Pistons Basketball NBA
Detroit Shock Basketball WNBA
Asheville Tourists Baseball SAL
Glen Taylor Minnesota Timberwolves Basketball NBA
Minnesota Lynx Basketball WNBA
Madison Square Garden New York Knicks Basketball NBA
New York Rangers Hockey NHL
New York Liberty Basketball WNBA
Hartford Wolf Pack Hockey AHL
Comcast Spectator Philadelphia 76ers Basketball NBA
Philadelphia Flyers Hockey NHL
Spurs Sports & Entertainment San Antonio Spurs Basketball NBA
San Antonio Silver Stars Basketball WNBA
San Antonio Rampage Hockey AHL
Austin Toros Basketball NBA D-League
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey NHL
Toronto Raptors Baskebtall NBA
Toronto FC Soccer MLS
Toronto Marlies Hockey AHL
Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment Utah Jazz Basketball NBA
Salt Lake Bees Baseball PCL
Lincoln Holdings LLC Washington Wizards Basketball NBA
Washington Capitals Hockey NHL
Washington Mystics Basketball WNBA
New England Sports Ventures Boston Red Sox Baseball MLB
Salem Red Sox Baseball Carolina League
Michael Iltch Detroit Red Wings Hockey NHL
Detroit Tigers Baseball MLB
Lewis Wolff Oakland Athletics Baseball MLB
San Jose Earthquakes Soccer MLS
Tom Hicks Dallas Stars Hockey NHL
Texas Rangers Baseball MLB
Liverpool FC Soccer Premier League
B. Thomas Golisano Buffalo Sabres Hockey NHL
Buffalo Bandits Lacrosse NLL
Calgary Flames Ownership Group Calgary Flames Hockey NHL
Calgary Hitmen Hockey WHL
Peter Karmanos Jr. Carolina Hurricanes Hockey NHL
Plymouth Whalers Hockey OHL
Florida Everblades Hockey ECHL
Anschutz Entertainment Group Los Angeles Kings Hockey NHL
Los Angeles Lakers (part) Basketball NBA
Los Angeles Sparks (part) Basketball WNBA
Los Angeles Galaxy Soccer MLS
Manchester Monarchs Hockey AHL
Reading Royals Hockey ECHL
Eisbaren Berlin Hockey Deutsche Eishockey Liga
Hamburg Freezers Hockey Deutsche Eishockey Liga
Hammarby IF Fotboll Soccer Allsvenskan
Djurgardens IF Hockey Hockey Elitserien
Eugene Melnyk Ottawa Senators Hockey NHL
Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors Hockey OHL
San Jose Sports and Entertainment Enterprises San Jose Sharks Hockey NHL
Cleveland Barons Hockey AHL
Sports Capital Partners Worldwide St. Louis Blues Hockey NHL
Real Salt Lake Soccer MLS
Peoria Rivermen Hockey AHL

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