Sport free weekend in Brisbane: a massive opportunity missed!

As we approach four days away from our respective places of work, thoughts obviously turn to just what to do over this break. If you are in Brisbane and you are a fan of any of the national sporting codes you are likely to be disappointed because none of said codes have any games scheduled for Brisbane (or the Gold Coast) this weekend.

That’s right, and I will repeat it, none of the NRL, AFL, A-league or Super Rugby have games scheduled this weekend in Brisbane or South East Queensland. I concede that I am ignoring the Brisbane Lions game scheduled for tonight but I am defining the weekend for this purpose as starting on Friday morning and ending on Monday night.

When I first realized this I thought to myself that I must have misread my sports diary. However, a further examination of the schedules of the teams in each code bore out that I had not made a mistake and there is to be no national code sport in South East Queensland this weekend. In the NRL the Titans are in Penrith and the Broncos in Newcastle. In the A-league the Roar have the week off. In the AFL the Lions game will be over before the weekend starts and the Suns are playing in Melbourne. In Super Rugby the Reds have a bye.

This is just nuts! Set aside for the moment my love sport and think about the economics of a decision by the codes not to play in South East Queensland this weekend. The Broncos and the Reds consistently procure crowds that double their southern counterparts. Both have massive membership bases and both are seeking to get more kids to their games. This weekend presented a massive opportunity for both or either to get more people through the turnstiles given the holidays on Friday and Monday and it being the end of school holidays. It is hard to quantify but I am sure that both the NRL and Super Rugby will have weeks this week where they really would have benefited from the crowd numbers a Brisbane game brings.

It makes absolutely no sense to me to play a Good Friday game in Newcastle where the crowd will be around 15,000 when the Broncos probably would have sold out Lang Park, or at least doubled that crowd number. The Reds have been consistently getting over 25,000 to games but this weekend they get nothing. I guess smarter people than me can see the method in this madness.

One final point: obviously this lack of play in the national codes in Brisbane presents an opportunity for their state based counterparts to really push their respective games. Have you seen, heard or been sent one advertisement for a QRL or Premier Rugby game this weekend? I know I haven’t and I am on mailing lists that I am sure that I would have received something from if any such campaign of seeking heightened exposure was run. This is similarly nuts and represents another lost opportunity for the codes in Queensland.

Of course, there is a ton of sport on TV this weekend and that is where I will do the bulk of my viewing. Still, I can only be left to lament a massive lost opportunity for the national codes this Easter long weekend.

Shumpty’s Punt: Tuesday Tempter

There is so much sport on at the moment it is difficult to keep track of it all. Here is a short multi that I am pretty confident about today coming out of America.

Leg 1: Boston Red Sox to cover the line (-1.5 runs) against the Texas Rangers in the MLB.

Leg 2: Kansas City Royals to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays in the MLB.

Leg 3: Minnesota Wild to defeat the Winnipeg Jets in the NHL.

Leg 4: Anaheim Ducks to defeat the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL.

Leg 5: Kentucky to defeat U Conn in the NCAA Mens Tournament Championship Game by 10 points or less.

This multi should pay around the $40 mark.

As always: all care is taken with this tip but no responsibility for losses is given.

Sport: Crowds are down … time to look at the customer experience?

I have read much in the press of late lamenting the reduction in crowd numbers, particularly at NRL games, at live sporting events around the country at the moment.

Isn’t the problem blindingly obvious? It simply costs too much money go to too much live sport at the moment. The times we live in are tough and that has lead to a reduction in discretionary spending. Attending sports events are a discretionary spend that are a road to far for many.

Therefore: is the answer simply to reduce the price of the ticket into the ground?

I think that the ticket into the ground needs to be pitched at a level that is reasonable rather than exorbitant. Equally, as a member of the Reds, I know that I am fairly comfortable with the fees I have paid for two tickets for the season.

What I can imagine creates more stress for those on a budget is the cost of food and beverage in the stadiums. Surely that is a key area that those running the game, or is it those running the stadiums, need to look at. When the food in the stadium costs, on my rough numbers, at least double what it would outside of the stadium it is nothing short of a rip off.

Now some will say here: take your own bag of food into the ground. Frankly, I can not think of anything worse than lugging a back pack of tucker into the ground and then home again.

Even if the prices were reasonable, I still think the experience of the punter at the game also needs to be looked. Customer service is a lost art but getting service staff that know how to actually pour a beer or who are not surly (my sample size in the last 12 months consists of at least 20 live sports events and I have never struck a happy food and beverage server) would help that experience. Reducing the number of advertisements and senseless gimmicks, which do nothing other than irritate the fans (and if anything make one less likely to buy a product) would also enhance this experience.

I love sport and love watching it live. That being the case I am oft prepared to look past a rubbish customer experience to watch the sports that I love. I wonder though if a part of the reason for the reduction in crowd numbers has something to do with the codes failure to garner repeat business? Is the customer experience at a weekend sporting event costing the codes the return of new fans the next time a game is to be staged?

Take Saturday night’s Reds fixture: would you be rushing back next week if the game against the Stormers was your first experience of a rugby game? The game was exciting sure but if you had spend $35 for the privilege to get in the ground, $60 on food and beverage (a couple of beers, a pie, a bottle of water and a magnum), faced ordinary service staff and had to listen to the banality of the “on field compare” go through his tired routine would you come back or simply tune your TV to Foxsports 2 next Saturday night?

All of the codes need to look at the customer experiences they offer and improve them. Price, service and entertainment all need to be considered. The diehards are not leaving the games that they love, they will always attend the games: it is the repeat business from newcomers that is going to change the tide of negative crowd numbers.