When is Less, More?
The Oakland Raiders announced they want to build a new 50,000 seat stadium. This is nothing new in the league, but the number of seats is interesting. Why would an NFL team wish to have only 50,000 seats? Isn’t the idea to build bigger and better stadiums so you can generate more revenue?
Some say it’s because the Raiders want to be able to sell out their stadium. There may be a shred of truth to this but this is a myopic and misguided view.
Winning will sell out games. The Raiders are not going to be a bad football team forever. The cycle of the NFL has been pretty consistent over the years and worst to first is a league staple. Why would the Raiders limit their profits — believing they’re going to be good again — by building a stadium that wouldn’t take advantage of the good years?
They wouldn’t… so what does this mean?
The National Football League is entering a new era of its development. More and more teams are having a difficult time selling out their venues and television and technology are to blame. Football games on 80″ HD TV’s with surround sound are bringing the NFL into living rooms like never before. The game has always been a “made for TV” sport and its popularity has been closely tied to this truism. Throw in the new technology and you have more and more fans staying at home rather than spend money on tickets and concessions at games.
The NFL is the most progressive league in professional sports. They know where the league is trending and may see an opportunity to offer fans at the game something they won’t get anywhere else: bragging rights.
Hardcore fans will want to be at the games. Being a season ticket holder is going to be a badge of honor, the true test of one’s loyalty, a trump card at the local watering hole. Suddenly you’re not just a fan, you’re a true fanatic, you’re in the club, the exclusive club of season ticket holders. More intimate stadiums mean you can build stadiums that put fans right on top of the players. 40 or 50,000 seat stadiums would improve the quality of fan experience by getting them closer to the field.
The Raiders can reduce the supply and increase the demand. The league can build smaller stadiums, charge more, sell the place out and continue to milk television executives like prize heifers.
Less is more for the fan and the league.