Play ball: Sports fans eager to get into stadiums

A Back to Normal Barometer informed look at how pent up demand for live sports is creating a supply/demand imbalance as COVID attendance restrictions continue to inhibit properties from optimizing revenue.

More than the average American, sports fans are itching to get back into stadiums this spring.

In new polling provided exclusively to Secrets, a combined 63% of “avid sports fans” are ready to enter stadiums — or have already attended an event.

The “ready to go” fan base recently surged as more vaccines for COVID-19 were released.

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“In our most recent wave of research, 19% of these sports fans had indicated past month attendance at live sports, with another 44% ready to return without any further assurance needed,” said Jon Last of the Sports and Leisure Research Group.

“That’s 63% of the prime target for sports properties that have no issue in filling our stadiums and arenas, if provided the opportunity,” he added.

Last’s group is one of three, including ROKK Solutions and Engagious, that have been producing the “Back to Normal Barometer” survey for industries on America’s readiness to get back to pre-COVID days. The data he provided to Secrets was from polling for sports groups.

The survey countered others of a broader pool of adults that showed a reluctance to go back to stadiums. A Washington Post-University of Maryland survey released this week, for example, found just 42% of Americans are comfortable returning to stadiums.

It is more accurate to poll stadium goers than “Americans,” many of which aren’t even sports fans, Last suggested.

“Our Barometer research has been focused on sports fans, particularly those who exhibit both a strong passion for sports as well as past year attendance. In proprietary custom research that our firm conducts on behalf of leagues and franchises, it is clear that these more engaged fans behave and act in ways that are much more valued by sports properties, driving the preponderance of revenue,” he said.

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The eagerness of fans has been seen in the demand for tickets in stadiums this year, all limited by local governments. Prices for some Opening Day baseball tickets have touched $5,000.

“But as many municipalities continue to impose restrictions on fan attendance, demand will continue to outnumber supply. To look for actual evidence of this, simply look at how quickly tickets to limited capacity opening day Major League Baseball games have sold out. The New York Mets on Monday saw many season ticket holders denied opening day access, as all available tickets were gone within thirty minutes of being made available,” said Last.