Archive for April 24th, 2008

24
Apr
08

An Idea to Make Baseball Better

Nationals Marlins Baseball

You’ve seen it at every Marlins home game. Same with the Pazuzu Rays or most Dodgers games. Nationals games definitely have the same issue; empty seats all over the stadium. There is nothing more pathetic than watching a game and seeing whole sections with no one in them, and no section is worse with constantly empty seats than the area behind home plate. Now, bad teams–although the Rays are on the upswing and the Dodgers should be good but their fans are generally some of the lamest possible–are always going to have trouble selling seats, I get that, but it would seem to me that there would be some inherent advantages in making it seem like more people are at the game.

There is probably no single shot used in a baseball game more than that of the center field camera focusing in on the plate, it’s probably used 200+ times per game. Wouldn’t there be some inherent value for the teams to at least pad their broadcast a little by making it SEEM like there are more people actually at the game?

I understand that for baseball teams the money generated by the seats behind home plate and around the dugouts can be enormous, but here’s something I don’t understand. If there is no one in those seats by the end of the first couple of innings why not have staff move around the stadium and offer those seats to the other fans that are spread out across the stadium. The premium seats are either sold and no one showed up or remain unsold and would be otherwise empty, so why not fill them up? Sure, some fans will be more than happy to stay in the upper decks or whateves, but most will jump at the opportunity to get closer to the action. For many fans, it would probably be the closest they’ve ever sat to the game and would be a forever memorable occasion.

What good does it do to keep those seats empty the entire game? The team wouldn’t be losing money because those seats are going to remain unsold or unused regardless and the fans that would be offered the seats would have already paid for their initial tickets. Furthermore, the amount of positive PR this would acquire could only serve to help the team that did this. If I knew that every time I went to a game that there was a chance I could be upgraded for free to a premium seat why wouldn’t I try and go as much as possible and take advantage of such an opportunity?

Now some of these seats include drink and food service, I could see that this might cause a financial loss for the team, so, solution, make server service unavailable for those who are upgraded and didn’t actually pay for the premium amenities. The game alone from that close would be special enough and I can’t imagine fans wouldn’t be cooperative or understanding.

Not only will some goodwill be earned with the fans who are supportive enough to keep coming to otherwise empty stadiums but it will spread out exponentially. As fans tune into the games or see recaps they will see that shot of home plate again and again, if they see lots of people in the seats the assumption would be that the team is more popular and might entice those important casual fans to make a few more trips to the stadium. Again, if those same fans knew there was a decent chance they would get a chance to sit in such incredible seats they would be even more likely to return several times.

In addition, the national media, ESPN, et al would eat this story up. Big rich company gives back to the little guy? Sounds to me like some really great PR for whatever team decides to employ such a strategy (or employs the brilliant guy who thought up said strategy…)

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