Professional football, America’s most popular and profitable sport, is preparing to tackle a glaring weakness: Stadiums are increasingly empty.
As part of sweeping changes designed to give teams more flexibility to fill their seats, the National Football League is watering down its controversial TV “blackout” rule. And this season, for the first time, fans in the stadium will be able to watch the same instant replays the referees see during reviews of controversial calls.
The league also is planning to introduce wireless Internet in every stadium and to create smartphone apps that could let fans listen to players wearing microphones on the field.
With declines in ticket sales each of the past five years, average game attendance is down 4.5% since 2007, while broadcast and online viewership is soaring.
In hopes that professional football can mimic the wild stadium atmosphere typical of college football games, the NFL says it has “liberalized” its restraints on crowd noise. Stadiums will now be free to rile up crowds with video displays, and public-address announcers will no longer be restrained from inciting racket when the opposing offense faces a crucial third down.
Read more – Game Changer: NFL Scrambles to Fill Seats
Old-school train conductors are finally ready to give up their hole punchers to try something new: the iPhone.
Amtrak has been training conductors since November to use the Apple handset as an electronic ticket scanner on a few routes, including from Boston to Portland, Me., and San Jose, Calif., to Sacramento.
By late summer, 1,700 conductors will be using the devices on Amtrak trains across the country, the company said.
With the new system, passengers will be able to print tickets or load a special bar code on their smartphone screens for conductors to scan, and conductors will be able to keep track of passengers on board, Amtrak said.
“You don’t even need to print the document and bring it with you,” said Matt Hardison, chief of sales distribution at Amtrak, who helped plan the iPhone program. “We’ve made a number of important improvements for both our customers and Amtrak, all in one fell swoop.”
keep reading – N.Y. Times – Amtrak Enlists iPhones as a Service Tool
As the primary architect of the Atlanta Braves’ dynasty in the 1980s and ’90s, Kasten noted the Dodgers’ fast start in stressing that the goal is to “win now — we’re not going to wait two years.”
In the tall, reserved Walter, Johnson can see parallels in ownership style with the Lakers’ Jerry Buss. Buss left it to general manager Jerry West and successor Mitch Kupchak to make the moves that kept that franchise at the top of the heap.
“Mark’s like Dr. Buss,” Magic said. “He’ll put money into the team and stay out of the way. He wants to win.”
Johnson, a big baseball fan growing up in Michigan, called it “one of the happiest days of my life.”
He said he was flattered that Walter and Kasten wanted him to join Guggenheim Baseball Management — along with Mandalay Entertainment chairman Peter Guber, Guggenheim Partners president Todd Boehly and Texas energy investor Bobby Patton — when they were putting together their winning bid to Frank and Jamie McCourt.
Legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully — one of the few individuals holding a place in the region’s hearts close to Johnson’s — mastered the ceremonies, concluding that this would be the last ownership exchange that would have his involvement.
There will be an unspecified amount of room available in the budget to pursue established talent in trades and free agency while fortifying the farm system, Kasten said.
“We’re not going to gouge the fans just because we paid a nice sum for this franchise,” Johnson said, disclosing that general parking would come down from $15 to $10. “We don’t want the fans to think because we wrote a big check [$2 billion], we’re going to stop writing checks for talent. We don’t want people to think we’re short on money now. That’s not the case.”
The sale of the team, the stadium and land surrounding it became official on Tuesday as the group closed its $2 billion purchase, ending the McCourts’ stormy eight-year ownership..
Guggenheim paid an additional $150 million for a 50-percent interest in the property surrounding Chavez Ravine and the stadium parking lots, in a joint venture with McCourt.
The McCourts bought the Dodgers in 2004 from News Corp. for a net purchase price of $371 million.
“We work with half of baseball right now,” said Barry Kahn, CEO of Qcue, a company that helps teams sell dynamically priced tickets. That’s up from just four teams at the start of last season (2011). In all, 17 of 30 Major League teams will use dynamic pricing this season, according to Ticket News.
What is “dynamic pricing”?
From the website of Qcue, an Austin, TX, based start-up:
“50% of tickets are never sold, while 10% are resold for twice the face value”
Dynamic pricing is smart pricing. It considers all the available data points to price tickets more accurately before they go on sale. Once tickets begin to move, dynamic pricing applies advanced analysis to adjust prices based on sales and other measures of shifting demand.
- Determines what drives sales using variables such as start time, opponents, etc. to set more accurate prices from the onset and maximize demand across the house.
- Captures opportunity for markups and encourages sales across every section of the stadium.
- Recognizes shifting values even before fans do by constantly evaluating weather, players, playoffs, promotions, etc.
- Improves business efficiency and optimizes revenue opportunities through automation of valuable business intelligence.
Sophisticated algorithms analyze real-time sales data and other external factors to generate forecasts based on various pricing strategies.
More from NPR
Baseball teams are finally doing what airlines have been doing for decades: changing ticket prices on the fly, based on demand.
At ballparks around the country this year, ticket prices will fall when rain is in the forecast and rise when a superstar comes to town.
From an economic standpoint, the only question is why they didn’t do it sooner. Why not sell seats on the cheap if they’d sit empty otherwise? Why not charge a premium for sellouts?
Personally, I’m happy that MLB owners are picking up on this technology, maximizing revenue, cutting into scalpers, even though it may end up in higher ticket prices for me:
They (Qcue) estimate that a team can generate an additional $900,000 in incremental revenue over the course of a season by making one additional change to each of its section prices.
- Average price change per seat: $1.55 increase
- Average percentage change per seat: 3% increase
- Average price decrease: -$13.63
- Average price increase: $3.27