Coastal Plain League baseball may be the first sporting events in front of live crowds and those fans are eating up tickets.
If you’re wondering whether fans will go to sporting events, let the Macon Bacon be your white rat.
2½ weeks ago, the Macon Bacon and the rest of our Coastal Plain League teams announced our first games would be held July 1, a one-month postponement. More important, we’ll likely be the first live sporting events played in front of fans.
Now, let’s be clear. That doesn’t mean playing in front of sold out packed houses. In Macon, we have a normal capacity of about 3200. We’re going to play to a max crowd of 1306 after reducing our capacity to meet social distancing requirements. In Savannah, the Ferrari in our league, they are playing to a capacity of roughly 2,000, down from their normal sold-out crowds of nearly 4,200.
We, of course, have taken other steps to protect our fans and staff and communicated those steps clearly and frequently to them. More importantly to our business, here’s what we’ve seen from our fans and sponsors in the last two plus weeks:
- For this season, we had to relocate virtually every single ticket package buyer to meet new seating rules. How did fans respond? To date, just 1.7% of our revenue has deferred to next season. Every single deferment was related to health issues from fans in high risk categories, mainly age related.
- We’ve lost just 3.7% of our accounts including groups to deferment or refunds. Most group losses were because the bulk of our home schedule changed when we had to postpone the start of our season. Sure, we had some groups cancel or defer but they were mainly groups like nursing homes who quite frankly shouldn’t come or performance groups who haven’t met or practiced since the shutdown started.
- We’ve sold more than 100 new five game plans. In fact, we’re on target to hit our original 5-game budget number, despite the pandemic.
- Sponsors are thrilled that we are playing and ‘getting Macon back to normal’. Only one sponsor deferred and that was because their school related program couldn’t be executed in the spring.
These successes are a tribute to the fans of Middle Georgia, the hard work and service of Macon Bacon staff and the willingness of our communities to use common sense and do the right thing to get their lives back to somewhat normal.
What does this mean for you and your team?
If you don’t start playing until fall and you’re ‘waiting’ to see how your community responds, you’re wasting valuable marketing time. If you’re a fall/winter sport and have laid off your sales staff and aren’t planning on bringing them back for a few months, you’re going to make the 2020-21 season a train wreck and put yourself further behind then you already are. And you’ll likely start so far behind for 2021-22 you’ll struggle to recover.
Some teams have woken up to new marketing strategies and are having success. We’ve documented how UNLV Football has generated nearly 1,500 season ticket deposits with a $1 down campaign and four-month payment plan.
Other teams, for some crazy reason, are still waiting to start marketing. I watch TV and see car ads, cell phone ads and clothing ads. I get the same steady emails from Kohl’s, Target and other vendors. Just because the unemployment rate is high, doesn’t mean you should stop trying to market. During March Madness, coaches frequently say, “Survive and advance.” For 2020, you’re trying to survive and advance to 2021 and a return to more normalcy.
People will buy. People most certainly will buy. The Macon Bacon are proof. UNLV is proof. What the heck are you waiting for?
P.S. I have just completed teaching my ticket sales class at Johnson & Wales in Charlotte. I have 3-4 graduating students who have finished and flat out nailed their group sales training from Group Sales Superstar. If you’re looking to hire, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you their videos.