Since moving to Turner Field in 1997, the Atlanta Braves have seen a steady decrease in their attendance, despite having the second best winning percentage in Major League Baseball (MLB) (Jaffe, 2013). In 1997, the average fan attendance was 42,771, while in 2012, the average attendance dropped to 29,878 (Baseball-almanac, 2014). This decrease in attendance is slightly over thirty percent. Throughout this case study, I will examine the demographics of the Atlanta Braves consumer base, identify contributing factors to the consumers behavior, identify trends that may be a result of consumer behaviors, and provide suggestions for future marketing efforts.
In 2013, 59% of the fans who attended MLB games were men and 41% were women (SBRnet.com). Major League Baseball reported that an average of 8% of the fans who attended games were ages 13-17, approximately 33% fans who attended MLB games were between the ages18-34, 23% were aged 35-49, 24% of the fans were aged 50-64, and 13% of the fans who attended MLB games were 65 years or older (SBRnet.com).
Personal finances are a contributing factor as to who can afford to attend MLB games. In 2013, approximately 15% of the fans who attended MLB games had annual incomes under $25,000, 19% of the fans who attended MLB games had an annual income of $25,000-$49,999, 32% of the fans had annual incomes of $50,000-$99,999, and finally, 34% of the fans reported annual incomes of greater than $100,000 (SBRnet.com).
The Atlanta Braves single game ticket prices range from $12-$70, season ticket prices range from $830-$4,980, and suites prices range from $75,000-$200,000. Stadium parking is also an additional $15 with the exception of suite owners whose parking fee is included in the price of the suite package (SBRnet.com).
Based on my initial findings, the majority of fans who attend MLB games have middle to upper socioeconomic status. These individuals are a close mixture of males and females between the ages of 18-49. Attending an Atlanta Braves baseball game can be relatively expensive for someone of a lower socioeconomic class unless they are fortunate enough to receive one of the cheaper tickets. Typically, as ticket value decreased, so does seat quality. Depending on the seat quality, some fans may choose to watch the game in the comforts of their home.
Concerning wins and loses, the Atlanta Braves are doing well in that category, but filling the stadium with fans has been an issue over the past few years. After a deeper look in the consumers’ background, the following results were revealed, which may help explain consumer behavior.
Supporting Consumer Information
The current Atlanta Braves Stadium is located in Fulton County, Atlanta. The population of Fulton County is 977,777. Seventeen percent of this population live below the poverty level and the average household income for a Fulton County resident is $57,664 (quickfact.census.gov). These numbers comprise one portion of the fans who attend Atlanta Braves games. The majority of Atlanta Braves fans come from Cobb County, Atlanta. Cobb County has a population of 707,442. Twelve percent of that population lives below the poverty line and the average household income is $65,180 (quickfact.census.gov).
At end of the 2016 MLB season, the Atlanta Braves will be moving into a new stadium due the expensive cost to renovate their current stadium. Since the majority of the fans who attend Atlanta Braves games reside in Cobb County, the Atlanta Braves have decided to build their new stadium in Cobb County. Looking at the 2012 census report, Cobb County is in better financial standing than Fulton County. With this change in location, the Atlanta Braves are hoping to increase their fan attendance. Moving closer to the heart of the ticket buying fan base could surely attract more fans and fill Cobb County Stadium, which is projected to hold 42,000 fans.
Future Marketing/ Summary
I believe fan attendance is directly tied to a team’s performance. If a team is doing well, typically attendances goes up. If a team is struggling, attendance goes down. Over the past 16 years, the Atlanta Braves have had the second best winning percentage in baseball at .571 percent (Jaffe, 2013). In 2013, they won 96 games, just one shy of the best record in baseball, yet they rank 13th in average attendance (Tomlinson, 2013). The Braves success clearly does not correlate with fan attendance. However, financial deficits by fans may be a bigger issue concerning game attendance. Ticket prices were cut by fourteen percent for the 2012 season, but attendance was still lower than the previous two years (Forbes.com).
In order to increase fan attendance, I believe the Braves can explore several marketing avenues. I believe the Atlanta Braves should target a well known, high profile player during free agency or through a trade. Some fans come to games just to see superstar athletes as opposed to the whole team. This holds true even with visiting teams. Fans of a visiting team may attend games to see a superstar perform. I also believe some of the additional cost outside of the ticket pricing can be cut. Parking cost could be reduced by half or eliminated completely, and half price concessions promotions can be advertised to attract more fans. The Braves could offer free admission for children aged 15 and under on certain nights. For a large family it may be financially impossible to bring all of their children to a game. A promotion of this type would surely increase attendance. Perhaps offering incentives or promotions to help fill the seats may be something the Atlanta Braves should consider in their marketing efforts. If these promotions and incentives are offered to reduce costs, these marketing segments may be able to attract more of the lower socioeconomic fan base creating a larger target market.
After evaluating the games attendance and ticket purchasers, the braves were able to identify a warning sign. The organization realized that they could benefit more by being closer to their target market and decided to relocate their stadium to Cobb County. However, I think they should also reduce cost associated with the game experience (e.g. parking, ticket price, concessions) so they can keep the Fulton County fans base as they leave the area. If the overall cost to attend a game is not too expensive these fans still may travel regularly to games.
In conclusion, the Atlanta Braves are making great strides to improve as an organization and to increase their fan attendance. The statistics above highlights the type of fans that MLB attracts, middle to upper class families. By the Braves building a new stadium in a county with better financial standing, which also happens to be the heart of the ticket buying fan base, hopefully they will see an increase in fan attendance.
Atlanta Braves (2013) Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/teams/atlanta-braves/ Baseball Alamanc. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.baseball-almanac.com/teams/bravatte.shtml Jaffe, J. (2013, Nov). Braves will move to Cobb County in shocking move. Sports Illustrated.com. Retrieved from http://mlb.si.com/2013/11/11/atlanta-braves-moving-ballpark-cobb-county/ Sports Business Research Network. (2013). Major league baseball attendance. Retrieved from www.SBRnet.com The Sports Network. (2013). Atlanta Braves Regular Season Attendance. Retrieved from http://www.sportsnetwork.com/merge/tsnform.aspx?c=sportsnetwork&page=mlb/teams/001/attendance.aspx?team=001 Tomlinson, T. (2013, Nov). 13 Ways of Looking at the Atlanta Braves' Move to the Suburbs. Forbes.com. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/tommytomlinson/2013/11/11/13-ways-of-looking-at-the-atlanta-braves-move/
U.S. Department of Commerce, United States Census Bureau. (2012). State and County QuickFacts. Retrieved from http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/13/13067.html