Football needs to draw more young fans to counter decline

Whitney Wagoner

Universities’ football programs are bringing in more money than ever. Then why has attendance declined in nine of the past 10 years?

According to Whitney Wagoner, director of the UO’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, the answer is simple: Watching the game on television is getting to be more pleasant than actually attending.

“I have to drive, parking sucks. What’s the time of the game?” Wagoner said. “And then I have this really robust option (of staying home and watching with friends) which is significantly easier and less expensive.”

This has complicated universities’ recent push to sell more tickets to young, recent graduates. By reaching a younger crowd, they are able to lock down sales for years to come. But still, they are seeing people more willing to stay home.

“Young people are willing to spend $100 (on an event), but it needs to be well worth it,” Wagoner said. “It needs to be unique and it needs to be compelling, so collegiate athletic departments and other entertainment really have to make sure they’re delivering something that young people can’t get anywhere else.”

For more, see “Universities turn focus to young fans as football attendance declines” in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Wagoner, who graduated from the UO in 1996, spent seven years in corporate marketing positions with the NFL in New York City before returning to teach business courses at the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center in 2003.