The continued decline in attendance at live sporting events is blamed on a variety of causes, from the rise of screen-loving millennials to the even steeper rise in ticket prices. In truth, many factors are driving the decline – but one in particular may be getting dangerously overlooked: good hygiene.
Stadium bathrooms are a big no-go for fans
A recent study on the fan experience across major league sports found that using the bathroom is one of the least-liked aspects of attending a game. That’s hardly surprising, given the vast crowds and the difficulty keeping facilities clean and stocked during peak use between periods of play. What is surprising is that some facilities still aren’t using readily available cleanliness solutions, like the high-tech, high-capacity paper towel dispensers that alert cleaning staff when it’s time to re-stock.
This game makes me sick!
Unappealing and unsanitary bathrooms are only part of the hygiene problem at stadiums. A recent ESPN report – with the unappetizing title of “What’s lurking in your stadium food?” – revealed that while fans still love to eat and drink, they are increasingly at risk of food-poisoning. The research, conducted at 107 major league facilities, points a finger in several directions: inadequate food storage; poor food prep; and even one of the easiest-to-prevent causes of all, poor hand hygiene among food workers.
Use Sustainability to Sustain Attendance
As noted above, many of the solutions to the problem of poor stadium hygiene are relatively quick and easy to implement. Best of all, some can clean up your team’s image in more ways than one. By using sustainable products and methods, from recycled paper goods to waste-reducing dispensers and eco-friendly cleaning supplies, teams and facilities can tap into the growing consumer desire to support sustainability.
When a stadium upgrades to sustainable cleaning and hygiene programs, management should promote that fact, through on-site communications and social media channels. There may even be opportunities to engage vendors in sponsorship programs, by offering them exposure for the sustainably-minded products being used, many of which may have consumer versions. Practicing and promoting sustainability can provide an especially helpful image and relationship boost with younger fans, who stadiums urgently need to cultivate for continued success.
Attendance is Down, But Opportunity is Up
It’s no secret that the live sports category represents big business facing potentially big trouble. The NFL lost 3% in attendance in 2017; college football suffered an even bigger decline, as it repeatedly has in recent years. Other sports are similarly challenged. That means that now, more than ever, optimizing the fan experience is key to filling seats – and providing good hygiene at all fan “touchpoints” in a stadium is key to keeping them coming back.
UF Online: How Sports Stadiums Are Optimizing the Fan Experience
Front Office Sports: NFL Provides Worst in Stadium Experience
Washington Post: College Football Attendance …