Our pal Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times has written an article that looks at the various challenges the NFL is facing. One of the biggest arises from persuading fans to choose to attend games over watching them at home.
Late in the item comes an intriguing prediction about the configuration of future NFL stadiums, courtesy of NFL executive V.P. of business operations Eric Grubman.
“What if a new stadium we built wasn’t 70,000, but it was 40,000 seats with 20,000 standing room?” Grubman said. “But the standing room was in a bar-type environment with three sides of screens, and one side where you see the field. Completely connected. And in those three sides of screens, you not only got every piece of NFL content, including replays, Red Zone [Channel], and analysis, but you got every other piece of news and sports content that you would like to have if you were at home.
“Now you have the game, the bar and social setting, and you have the content. What’s that ticket worth? What’s that environment feel like to a young person? Where do you want to be? Do you want to be in that seat, or do you want to be in that pavilion?”
Plenty of people would choose to be in the pavilion, if the price is right. (And if the beer isn’t priced quite so high.)
Grubman’s example, with a 70,000-seat stadium becoming a 60,000-person hybrid, reflects another inevitable reality for the NFL. To maintain the buzz of a full stadium, stadiums may need to get smaller.
“A restaurant isn’t as good if there’s only four people in there,” 49ers CEO Jed York said. “When a restaurant is hustling and bustling, it just feels better, the food tastes better because you see everybody else enjoying it. That’s the same thing for any live event. Great bands, if you don’t have a great crowd, then the band isn’t quite as good.”
He’s right — and it’s wise for the league to continuously be thinking about ways to adapt the business model to ensure that business continues to thrive, not only on TV but inside each and every stadium.