The Ball Game Biz: An Introduction to the Economics of Professional Team Sports

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The new ownership group — a joint venture of Howard Hughes Corp.

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The new stadium, recognized as Ballpark of the Year by BaseballParks. Attendance in the current season is running about 4, per game. Its front-office staff of 20 is particularly proud of its community engagement, says Christine Monjer, its assistant general manager. Professional soccer is getting a boost from the changing demographics of Nevada.

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The decision to launch the Reno Football Club in was driven largely by the changing demographics of Reno, says Edelstein. The team plays its home games at 9,seat Cashman Field near downtown Las Vegas. The kids who played soccer in youth leagues 30 years ago have grown up, they know the game, and they enjoy professional soccer. At the same time, the growing diversity of the Las Vegas market has drawn thousands of people who grew up playing soccer in their homelands.

Lashbrook says the soccer club, which plays in the United Soccer Championship League USL , has carved out a niche for itself as a highly entertaining option for budget-minded families, almost all of them local residents. Players earn casino chips for top performances. Fans wave flags, and smoke bombs celebrate goals. During the Great Recession, the Las Vegas Aviators organization — then known as the 51s — was able to tighten its operations enough to remain profitable despite the loss of some sponsors.

Then, as now, the key has been affordable family entertainment, Logan says. Current major league stars such as Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant are part of a long list of top players who have come from Southern Nevada. Setting aside speculation as to whether the city can sustain the influx of two major league sports teams, the Raiders and Knights, on top of the UFC, Lights, Aces and Aviators, Vegas has upped the ante for what it means to be a mecca for entertainment, and the team owners and leagues have taken notice. Vegas is not your average, mid-market town.

In Vegas, not so much. We can just as easily, and more cheaply might I add, buy tickets to a concert, take your chances at the poker table, or partake in the widest possible variety of entertainment venues — pretty much all the things. I, for one, am saving up for backstage tickets to the next JoJo Siwa concert yes, moms of pre-teens can be sports fans too. The fandom, when born, is like no other. So how do you create die-hard fans, and not fair weather ones?

The Knights certainly know the recipe. Step one, patch together a self-proclaimed band of rough-and-tumble misfits to mirror a town of misfits; step two, capture the heart of said town by embedding themselves in the community, and supporting its people post-Oct 1; and step three, bring the spectacle of entertainment found on the Strip into the game. Taking your head out the clouds and ensuring seats are filled and ticket prices are up, there has to be more to compete with all the other things people can be doing on a Sunday.

This is how the Knights have succeeded.

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Books by David George Surdam. Visit Seller's Storefront. Living by our motto, 'Bookseller to the World', we focus on offering as many titles as possible to as many customers as possible. View in article. You will always find jerseys, mugs, and other merchandise that represent the city to others who pass through the area. Brands that seek to build levels of identification like that found in the wide world of sports can generate fans that are willing to proudly wear their brand names e. Thanks for telling us about the problem.

Who needs to buy tickets to Blue Man Group, when you can see them at the game? That is, sports and entertainment are suitable for mediated distribution through broadcast and online video. The NFL, for example, is broadcast in countries across 24 time zones for upwards of , hours of programming in 32 languages. TV, blurring the lines between traditional broadcasts and online services that make the product available anytime, anywhere.

Due to the nature of the events and the distribution channels, sports such as soccer, basketball, baseball, tennis, golf and motor sports are truly global products needing little translation or alteration of the marketing mix to gain acceptance across cultures. The marketing mix product, place, promotion, pricing for typical goods and services are typically adapted to local markets.

Coke alters its packaging, name and syrup content in foreign countries. In a sense, given its electronic broadcasts, the distribution is standardized around the world.

Obviously, the promotion e. Customers typically pay one price for a given product or service. When you go to a grocery store, you select your favorite grocery items[6] and pay the prices marked on the items. You are not required to pay admission to the store so you can shop. However, some exceptions exist resembling fan loyalty—and even fanaticism—in customer products.

Some people we know actually get very excited about being able to shop at these places. Such organizations are the exception to the rule—and add evidence to the premise that the most successful marketers are those emulating sports marketers. Professional sports and major college sports fans frequently pay a two-part tariff or price. While some services with relatively inelastic demand electricity, utilities, etc. In sports, an initial payment e. Fans paying the initial fee are then given the opportunity to purchase tickets. Another aspect of two-part pricing in sports is the event itself.

Thus price-setting in most sports settings must consider various forms of price bundling. Offering tickets with a hot dog and soft drink for a single price is another example of price bundling in that it combines the prices of what would normally be two-part pricing. Price bundling is common among services e. Interestingly, fans are typically paying for admission to a publicly-owned facility, even though the bulk of the ticket sales proceeds go directly to the team owners.

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Although the subject of much public policy debate, sports team owners often do not pay for their own facilities. In addition, naming rights by sponsors add additional revenue to the team. In these cases, owners invest in order to control revenue available only if they own the facility.

Why do city, county and state officials want to attract sports organizations? Why are they, and their taxpayers, willing to pass referendums to pay for these facilities?

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The case can be made for a variety of motives mainly political and economic for this support. However, from a broader sociological perspective, sports teams provide a city or state with a social identity that can represent who they are to others. The successful state university sports team allows constituents to represent themselves to others as winners.

The tough blue-collar character of the Steelers over the years symbolizes who Pittsburgh fans are to the rest of the country. The black uniforms, skull-and-crossbones, and intimidating players for the Oakland Raiders, for better or worse, mostly identify their fans. We are not sure what the men dressed up as hogs in dresses at Washington Redskins games means.

In contrast, major cities that have lost or are without major league sports spend considerable resources searching for an identity by way of alluring sports franchises. Consider what is sold in gift shops in airports. You will always find jerseys, mugs, and other merchandise that represent the city to others who pass through the area. The point is that communities represent themselves to others through their identification with a sports organization.

Interestingly, visitors buy the licensed merchandise from these cities to represent to others that they visited there. The identity of the sports organization offers social meaning and value both to those who live in the city and to those who visit the city.

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In any case, the social value of the professional sports team often goes beyond simply the directly relevant economic value of the team to the community. Branded goods and services have traditionally not cooperated in their marketing efforts. At the wholesale level and in some highly competitive retail markets, goods and services may engage in co-branding or cooperative strategic alliances in order to offset or balance competitive weaknesses and strengths. As a rule, however, goods and services marketers do not cooperate in cross-promotions and work in-league with each other on a permanent basis as do sports.

Admittedly, this is an area in which some sports organizations do better than others. In addition to the major professional leagues, excellent examples are also found in major college sports conferences SEC, Big 10, etc. Fans of the teams are also ardent supporters of the league and enjoy following other team members or players in addition to their favorites e.

NFL History

The nature of sports leagues, particularly at the professional level, has evolved to the point where the leagues operate as monopolies, controlling entry and exit into the industry. For both practical and legal purposes, Major League Baseball is a monopoly. The league continues to be exempt from anti-trust laws. While Microsoft is sued by the U. Justice Department for restraining trade and other major industries vital to U. Other pro sports leagues operate in a similar fashion, such that virtually any new league has no opportunity to compete. A clear example of this monopoly control of sports leagues is in the NFL, where the city of Los Angeles has no NFL team, despite the fact it is the second most populated market in the U.

Obviously, a free market would have a pro football team in Los Angeles. A monopoly, in this case, does not. In summation, the point here is that every other goods and services marketer must abide by federal anti-trust laws. Professional sports, in large part, do not. The logic presented is that the leagues must maintain control for the integrity of the sport, as they seek to protect the social welfare of fans. As inferred earlier, customers pay an economic price for the goods or services that they purchase while fans make a social investment in the transaction. Customers typically give up monetary value in exchange what one gives up for what one gets for the good or service, although time and search effort may also be expended.

In most cases, however, only limited social exchange occurs. When you go out with friends to eat dinner on Friday night, you may be largely motivated by social reasons to go to a particular restaurant and consume certain food and beverages. In the same venue, however, individual and groups of customers may at the same time purchase a meal where social exchange accounts for little or no part of the encounter.

In either case, the exchange with the restaurant is still premised upon the purchase of the meal. Flowing text, Original pages. Best For. Web, Tablet, Phone, eReader. Content Protection. Read Aloud. Learn More.

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