Economy Affecting Sports Tickets Sales

November 21, 2008 8:46:02 PM PST
The country's economic struggles are trickling down from the highest levels of government, all the way to high school football fields here in the valley.The high school football playoffs are getting underway and ticket sales are good, but the same can't be said for other sporting events in the valley.

High school football is a rite of fall in the valley and big crowds pay to watch boys become men. In Clovis, all four high school teams are in the playoffs and attendance has been pretty steady this year. "Several of them have seen attendance increase because their team's doing better," said Clovis Unified School District spokeswoman Kelly Avants. "A couple have seen attendance fall off a little bit because the team might not be doing as well."

But with the economy slowing down, a lot of schools are seeing the crowds shrink. Clovis schools noticed a slight drop-off in season ticket sales, with fans less willing to drop big money all at once.

The drop-off is drastic at the professional level. Attendance at Fresno Falcons games is down about 15% this season and economists say more expensive tickets are a big part of the reason. "A downturn in the economy is always going to affect the pro sports more than the college sports or high school sports," said Fresno City College economics professor Henry Nishimoto.

At Fresno State, the university met sales goals for the football season, but they say it was a lot harder to sell a ticket this year, so they offered extra incentives and package deals. And if the economy stays in its downward spiral, high schools might find themselves using that kind of approach to fill the seats when the boys take the field next fall. "All of these people are going to be competing for a shrinking dollar," Nishimoto said. "And they're going to have to be more inventive and come up with more ingenious ways to attract customers."

Nearly every professional sport is seeing attendance drops this year. On the flip side, more people are watching the NBA and the NFL on television.

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