The NRL has copped a lot of criticism this year in regards to their lower crowds and I pin this almost entirely on the cost of a day at the footy. Ticket prices are higher then they've ever been and its getting to the point where staying to watch at home may be the best option. I understand NRL clubs are businesses but surely reduced prices would attract bigger numbers and that would bring in the same amount or even more money.
Before I start I have to mention that this doesn't apply to the diehards. Those like myself are going to get to as many games as possible regardless of the price or weather conditions. The NRL has these people in the bag but unfortunately it's only about 10,000 per game. In order to get crowd averages near to 20,000 the league has to look at options to turn all the ‘maybe attendings' to ‘definitely attendings'.
I know I don't do the number crunching but $27 for general admission at Brookvale and $30 at Leichhardt just seems too expensive. Especially when you add parking, food and drinks on as well. For a family of four you would be looking at something near $200.
You even get punished for being organised. Last Thursday I bought three tickets online for the Tigers v Manly game, I figured this way I could avoid any queues on game day. For buying online it cost me $95.74, due to an extra $3.90 to print the tickets and a $1.84 merchant fee. I had to pay $1.30 per ticket to print the tickets off at my house with my own printer and ink, that hardly makes sense. Surely the club can absorb these fees due to the fact it guarantees business. I stood in the rain on the hill for two hours last weekend to see my team get belted, if I hadn't bought the tickets in advance the rain would have seen me stay away and watch at home on TV.
The NRL aren't the only code copping flack for their dwindling crowds this year, with the AFL also seeing a dip in attendances. A new variable price system where you pay different amounts depending on who is playing has been blamed for their problems. The A-League has only had a rise in crowds so maybe the other codes need to have a look at what they are doing.
If you are savvy you will be able to notice that there are some deals out there. Roosters offered 80-cent tickets online for a short period last week while Parra are offering $20 family passes for their game this weekend. If you have a look on the back of your shopper dockets from Woolies or Coles you will probably notice a buy one get one free ticket offer for Manly home games as well. While all these promotions are good, surely something has to be done to pricing to bring the crowds back. The competition is closer then ever and upsets have been rampant this year, so it isn't the quality of footy that's keeping people away.
On a quick sidenote, how good is footy at suburban grounds! I might write about this in more depth another week but I cringe every time they suggest taking all Sydney games to ANZ or Allianz. The fact that 16,000 people stood in the pouring rain at Leichhardt last weekend is evidence enough that people love being so close to the action. I bet the crowd wouldn't have been that high if the game was played at Moore Park.