In today’s Wall Street Journal there is an article by Jonathan V Last on the state of major league sports. In his piece he writes about how this current recession may be affecting professional sports. He points out that the state of our economy has already taken its toll on some sports franchises including the WNBA shedding a big city team, the LPGA cutting its tour by three stops, and the Arena Football League canceling its 2009 season. The question he poses is what will happen to the “big” guys (MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL)? I don’t think anybody believes they will go out of business but they may be due for a “correction”.
The article points out that MLB did take a hit during the Depression. Attendance dropped 40% and did not get back to normal until after WWII. During that time player salaries dropped but no team folded. I do see some fall-out from the economy on major league sports. If teams don’t take a look at ticket prices, they will see a drop in attendance.
The article points to the recent surge in HDTV’s. The quality is so good that the fan may just stay home and watch instead. Any of us that have been to a live game knows nothing beats the live experience. I would rather see it live and person then watch on TV anytime. But if I can’t afford to go well, that’s where my big screen TV comes in. The article also points out that we are already seeing the decline. Some NFL teams had trouble selling playoff tickets even with the “so called decrease” in playoff ticket prices. My friends who have NFL season tickets laughed at that one. Even one of this weekend’s Super Bowl teams the Arizona Cardinals had trouble selling its first playoff game this year. The NBA teams that are at the bottom of the current rankings are feeling the pinch now at the box office.
Everyone involved in professional sports needs to take a look at the bottom line. This goes for the owners, players, agents, unions, and even sales/marketing people. No one including your fans is in the mood to pay “huge” money right now. This may not be an issue with the winning teams that are selling out the venue. There can only be a few winners in a league and the rest will suffer. Do you think that is healthy? There is a new wind blowing through our venues. You don’t want it to turn into a dust storm do you?
I am in Los Angeles this weekend attending the marketing meeting for Thomas & Friends Live on Stage. I am sure I will leave L.A. with lots to blog about.
Have a great weekend!