3) The parking lot and tailgating: Half the fun of going to an NFL game is tailgating. When I visit a stadium I take my time and take a lap around the parking lot to observe the tailgating rituals and even snag a cold one with one of my client’s family members. I think stadium planners, NFL cities, owners, and the NFL are so focused on the game experience they forgot about the tailgate. For one, we need some simple things like more bathrooms, entertainment, trashcans, and even some open spaces to throw the football around or set up a large tailgate for bigger groups. Teams should look at reconfiguring the parking lots where people can reserve spots in advance and be next to people they want to be next to. In addition, make sure there are enough police around and/or security to keep the experience harmonious. Most NFL execs, owners, and team officials usually arrive before the rush of the big crowds so they avoid the traffic. They also have special parking entrances and parking areas that are quick to get in and out of so they may be disconnected to all of the issues the fans have to deal with. Parking can cost anywhere between $25 and $75 (C’mon Jerry!!!) and you still may have a 15 minute walk to the stadium. Oh, and if you are picking up your tickets at will call you can add another 10 to 20 minutes of waiting in line.
4) Over priced concessions, lines and more bathroom issues: Some stadiums still haven’t fixed the bathroom issues, especially for woman. The lines at 50% of the stadiums are always long, constant and ridiculous. I’m not sure how planners keep blowing this one. I think better bathroom solutions could lead to more families attending games.
$6 dollar sodas and hot dogs, $9 beers, and $5 for a stale pretzel are down right offensive to fans. They deserve better! I do see food options improving across the board, especially for club seat holders. However, the commoners are still getting abused with high prices, long lines and bad food.
5) Obnoxious fan behavior: This issue has been a part of the NFL for a long time but controlling it has definitely improved. The city of Philadelphia drew the line in the sand when they brought a mobile courtroom and judge to the parking lot to make arrests and sentences on the spot. No one wants to take their kids to a game to witness a fight between fans, hear screaming obscenities and witness drunken behavior.
Pay up for more real police, not the yellow jacket security wearing mall cops (no offense to all you mall cops, keep up the good work) who are unqualified to handle unruly fans.
Once the NFL focuses on the blocking and tackling of the in-stadium fan experience, then they can start focusing on the gimmicks and gadgets Ed Grubman was referring to. Many other sports offer a different experience all together. There seems to be a more intimate relationship with the club itself, its players and the even the actual venue. College football is a decent example. Sometimes, going to an NFL venue feels more like a game of survival where you are pitted against fellow fans versus enjoying the experience all together.
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