Millions of enthusiastic sports fans are currently deprived of live games as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic. Leagues like the NBA and NHL have hinted at how they may resume their seasons, though outlooks remain uncertain. One thing that might be easier to predict, however, is the fan experience many can expect once sports return.
Fans will likely find a lower cost of attendance associated with the return of the NBA, NHL and more, Sports Illustrated reports.
“To manage expectations you look at over 100 fan cost indexes back to the early ’90s that we’ve run at Team Marketing Report, and there’s only five instances [of decreased cost] and that’s usually after a lockout or an economic dip,” Team Marketing Report publisher Chris Hartweg told the publication. “It doesn’t happen very often, but I think that we’re under some pretty extreme conditions right now that – in talking to folks at the teams and the leagues – everything is on the table.”
Those fan cost indexes – which take into account ticket prices, food and beverage costs, parking and other expenses at games – were on the raise across all major leagues in 2019. The NHL and NFL saw modest 1.3 percent increases, per Team Marketing Report, while MLB costs rose 1.8 percent. In terms of overall cost, NFL games proved to be the most expensive sports experience with a fan cost index of $540.52. NHL games came next at $424.62, with the MLS following at $250.40. Major League Baseball was the most cost-effective at $238.34 per game.
“You’re going to see teams that are fan-centric, that are concerned with fan engagement, are going to I think be aggressive with this to make it welcoming, compelling for people to come back to the stadium or arena,” Hartweg added.
Historically, fan cost indexes have never dropped more than 2.7 percent, which was the case for the NHL during the 2005 season. Should that same percentage be applied to the most recent figures, there would not be a drastic drop in overall cost of attendance. However, the length of this current disruption could prove critical in how leagues respond in order to bring economically-affected fans back into the venues.