What to do when NFL teams lose (a lot)
This weekend marked the opening of the NFL season and I am reminded by the shortcomings in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I see a lot of brand marketing for the Bucs around the Bay Area – especially because my commute for the past five and a half years has included driving past the stadium twice daily. I see the billboards, I see the bright lights, I see the empty seats. And then not much changes on gameday regarding empty seats.
One of the greatest issues facing Bucs attendance is the fact that the stadium is outdoors (or rather, not domed or climate-controlled). As a result, the games are often played in the sweltering heat. The 2019-20 home opener versus the 49ers was no exception. The heat index was well over 100 degrees Farenheight at kick-off (not that it cooled down as the game progressed, either). What self-respecting person wants to sit in that weather, also likely under direct sun, and watch the home team lose while eating crappy, over priced food?
There is probably no affordable solution to this issue. It is a result of poor city planning. The heat continues well into winter in Tampa, with few games likely to be played in weather below 80 degrees. Tampa Bay is also known as the lightning capital of the world, so there is also a rain and lightning issue that affects games from time to time, especially in September.
Tampa’s published attendance is typically averaging in the bottom five among all NFL teams at around 60,000. However, there are several thousand seats unfilled every game and tickets can be had for $20-$40 for every home game with a few exceptions like when the Patriots or Giants come to town. I would opine that the average number of people through the gates is typically about 30,000 to 50,000 – far less than the published figures.
My suggestion is that the Bucs should not charge for tickets, for starters – especially on days they lose. On the way out, you can trade your losing ticket in for a new ticket for the next home game. Give the season ticket holders credits for food or additional games.
Next, charge just $1 for a hotdog, small soda, small beer, popcorn, peanuts, etc., until they win a home game. Then double the price to $2 after a win. Or, give ever one who purchases a ticket, $20-$40 in “face value” food vouchers.
It’s time to start rewarding people for attending these games. It is also time that the Buccs work harder at winning – both on the field against opponents, and off the field, with fans.