OPERATION FILL THESE BLUE SEATS

Empty seats at Jacksonville’s EverBank Field, via MetroJacksonville.com

The NFL has a problem. Attendance in NFL stadiums has dropped every season since 2007, such that average game attendance over the past five years is down 4.5%. To counteract this drop, the WSJ reports that the NFL will introduce changes to make actually going to the game more enticing, including: lowering ticket prices, free WiFi, better in-stadium replay and improved smart phone apps.I came up with a few more ideas:

In-Seat Food Delivery – While there has been a general upgrade in food quality at new stadiums, unlike at home where your kitchen is a short trip from your living room, at a cavernous NFL stadium you have to walk a distance and often wait in a long line to get a beer or a hot dog. This takes the fan away from the game and the atmosphere inside the stadium suffers. A simple smartphone app could allow fans to order food from their seats and pay a slight premium to have it delivered to them without leaving the action on the field. This exists in some form in luxury boxes where a server comes to take your order from a menu, but integrating it with smartphone technology and scoreboard postings could increase food sales while improving the atmosphere inside the stadium.

Better Entertainment Outside Stadiums – As a young dad, I think twice about going to an NFL game because it takes up a precious weekend day when I could be home with my family. I wouldn’t bring my 2-year-old to an NFL game but it would be nice if she and my wife could come along and enjoy the festivities/tailgating while I was inside watching the game. Since stadiums are mostly in suburban areas, there is not much to do outside the stadium. Temporary or permanent entertainment facilities would help increase the number of people coming to the game with or without tickets.

Reduce Seat-to-Field Distance – This is not so easy unless building a new stadium but for future stadiums seats in the upper decks have to be closer to the field. I will write more about this on a later post but engineering of the upper decks can improve such that the upper bowls can cantilever over the lower, without the need for sight impeding columns. Bringing fans closer to the action is essential to creating an exciting stadium atmosphere.

Build Roofs – A trend in European soccer stadiums, why do NFL stadiums not have covered seating? Many NFL games happen in inclement weather – covered seating areas would make watching the game more comfortable and protect fans from the conditions. Many stadiums in the rainy Pacific Northwest have some form of roof covered areas and the roof serves a secondary function of directing noise down to the field and creating a noisier, more boisterous crowd atmosphere.