Just because a team is "out of it", doesn't mean the operations can stop. Games still need to be played, each of which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. A franchise must strive to fill the stadium, whether their team is sitting pretty or feeding at the bottom of the Win/Loss column. Here are five promotional ideas to fill the stadium when the home team is already looking to next year.
Let's admit it. Everyone loves free stuff. Promotional giveaways entice fans to come to a game whether the team is going to the postseason or not. Fan Appreciation Days usually focus on this tactic and often provide the first however many fans with team posters, trading cards, or something similar. A very simple, but effective way to say thank you for your support throughout the season, but ultimately a cheap giveaway that drives ticket sales.
2. Discounted Tickets
Give back to the loyal fans by offering a half-price ticket or buy two, get a third free. Increasing the perceived value of the entry price, fans may feel more inclined to spend their money elsewhere, such as the souvenir shop or by grabbing another beer with the money they saved.
3. Honor a Retiring Player
Sometimes the home team will have the unique opportunity to honor a star player that is retiring at the end of the season. By promoting the final few home games as "the last chance to see Player X", attendance should spike upwards. This was seen multiple times this past season: Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettite, and the New York Yankees; Paul Konerko and the Chicago White Sox. When such franchise star players decide to call it quits, fans feel emotionally obligated to be in attendance to support their superstars. Don't be afraid to exploit this unique opportunity as it could really be a home run, financially speaking.
4. Think Ahead to the Future
If this season was a complete bust and only bad connotations exist, it is probably a good idea to start looking towards the future and next season. Since there are still a few home games remaining, however, offer deals such as "purchase tickets to the final home series and receive the same number of tickets to any home game next year" or offer ticket discounts for next season based on tickets purchased for the final games of the current season. Highlight intriguing promotional events happening next year and provide discounts or information to those that attend the last few games of the season.
5. Utilize The Players
Yes, use the players. They're a big part as to why fans attend games. Without a team, there would be no fans. So, how do you do it? Well, there are a few options: 1.) Post-game autographs are always a huge hit, especially with kids, 2.) Randomly give away signed merchandise throughout the game, much like the Chicago Blackhawks did throughout the 2013 shortened hockey season, 3.) Have each player say a brief "Thank You" during the pre-game presentation, 4.) Host a "Meet & Greet Post-Game Party" with the players for fans to attend (making this an added cost is another way to gain some extra cash), and 5.) have them simply tip their caps at a specific time during the game to honor the faithful crowd that has supported them throughout the season no matter what the standings showed.
It can definitely be challenging to energize a fan population when a team finds itself with more losses than wins, but it is not impossible. These five ideas should guide a franchise to see that a half-full stadium can be full again, even if the home team is struggling. Just keep your eye on the ball, find the right pitch to hit, and drive it out of the park.