The Fan Experience at Sporting Events – Never Look Down

There is a lot of discussion these days about the expectation that ticket sales at NFL games will decline for the 2nd year in a row.  The  most common reason given ? HDTV. Who would’ve thunk that High Def TV would have such a huge impact on the sports world :).  But I digress.

There is no question that all sports, but particularly football, are impacted. Given the choice between freezing your ass off at a December or January game or sitting with a cold one in front of your new Big Screen, there better be a damn good reason to get off that really comfy couch in order to pack up and go to the game.  So what is compelling and unique enough about attending a game that makes it worth the effort ?

First, let me tell you what it is not.  It is not the game.

Think back to the first professional sporting event you ever went to.  It was probably a parent taking you to the game. What do you remember ? Do you remember the score ?  A home run ?  A jump shot ? A pass play ? Or do you remember who you were with ? I remember being with my dad at a Pirates game. My dad and my uncle at a Steelers game. Think about your fondest memories at a sporting event. Again, what do you remember ? Hanging with your buddies ? A first date ? A last date ? How you felt after the team won or loss ?  A business partner or customer ? Or the score ? I’m guessing its not the score.

We in the sports business don’t sell the game, we sell unique, emotional experiences.We are not in the business of selling basketball. We are in the business of selling fun and unique experiences. I say it to our people at the Mavs at all time, I want a Mavs game to be more like a great wedding than anything else.

You know the wedding I’m talking about.  The one where everyone is up dancing, smiling , cheering, laughing.  The one where Grandma Ethel has her annual vodka gimlet and is trying to do the Dougie. The one where although you have no earthly idea what the Dougie is, you can’t say no to your 12 year old niece. The one where the whole place does the Macarena while laughing so hard they are crying. The one where everyone sings out loud to every song and you hug the cousin you haven’t seen in 10 years and hope you don’t see for another 10. It doesn’t matter if half the room doesn’t believe the couple will still be married at the end of the year. It matters if everyone in the place is having a great time. It matters if its the type of wedding that everyone in the room wished or wishes their wedding was or will be like this one. It matters that you leave the reception and your hands hurt from clapping ,  your mouth hurts from smiling so much and your  throat is sore because you were laughing , singing and hollering so much. That’s a great wedding.

That’s how I want a Mavs game to be.

I want it to be very participatory. I want it to be very social. I want it to be very inclusive.  I want it to be memorable. I want it to be so much fun people talk about it to their friends and can’t wait to go back. I want every parent to get tears in their eyes when they see their kids jumping up and down when the score is 2 to  0. When they are chanting Lets Go Mavs . When they are dancing and trying to get on the big screen.  I want the guy on the date knowing that the longest he will have to talk is during halftime and that after the game, and until the next one, he can talk about the game itself and not have all the pressure of trying to think of something to say while his date can be relieved that she can enjoy the game without him talking. Or vice versa of course. I want everyone  coming to a Mavs game to be able to find their own personal attachment to that night. I know I can’t control what happens on the court every game, but I can do my very best to make sure that no matter what the score, we have done all we can to make the fan experience like a great wedding.

IMHO, that means eliminating all the “look down” moments in the game.  Once you sit in your seat, the only time I want you to look down is to pick up the soda or beer you set down under your seat.

I want you always looking up. Looking at the game and the entertainment in the arena. You can’t cheer if you aren’t watching. It’s my job to give you something other than the game to look up at.

It may be looking at the fun videos we put on the big screen to entertain you.

We are going to try everything and anything we can think of to make it fun and memorable. Just as a DJ responds to the energy and attitude at a Wedding in realtime and tries to choose the right song or activity to keep the fun and energy up, we try to do the same thing at a Mavs game. We recognize that what makes our games unique is that like a wedding, Grandma Ethel can be sitting next to a goth looking 16 year old she has never met before, and if both are watching when the Mavs hit a shot right as the 24 second buzzer sounds, they can high 5 each other like they are best friends.  That if Grandma Ethel is chanting defense and being a key 6th man for her Mavs, the 16 year old will feel better about cupping his black nailed hands together to do the same. That if we put a fun video up on the big screen, they both might just sing along

Video and music are two simple components of what we do. We are developing games that our fans can participate in at the arena that hopefully engage them with what is happening on the court. We are coming up with ways to reward our fans for being our “6th man” and adding energy to the arena. (I will save those for another post). We are looking for ways to enhance the emotional attachments created at our game.

So what does this have to do with football or anyone else ?  It’s another way of saying I hate the trend of handheld video at games. I can’t think of a bigger mistake.  The last thing I want is someone looking down at their phone to see a replay. The last thing I want is someone thinking that its a good idea to disconnect from the unique elements of a game to look at replays. If a play deserves a replay, we will put it up on the big screen.  There is a huge value to everyone collectively holding their breath during a replay, or responding to a great play or a missed call  and then spontaneously reacting to what they see.  You lose that if people are looking down at their handhelds. I think its horrible that a fan might feel its ok not to be watching the game because they have their own personal DVR in their hands.   Even worse, if you are afraid of HDTV, why in the world would you try to replicate an experience that you can’t possibly improve on using a phone , IPad or hand held device ? I would be very concerned that someone is going to decide that its just easier to stay home to get all the video they want.

The fan experience is about looking up, not looking down. If you let them look down, they might as well stay at home, the screen is always going to be better there.

91 thoughts on “The Fan Experience at Sporting Events – Never Look Down

  1. It’s a very nice way to say i love you.but it is not so

    Comment by hssk1 -

  2. what a waste of time!

    Comment by Business Directory & Services -

  3. As someone who puts on sporting events for a living – this is the perfect post. “I want a Mavs game to be more like a wedding.”

    That completely conveys what we want to accomplish with our team.

    Thank you!

    Cory Howerton
    COO / Cleveland Gladiators

    Comment by endeavor23 -

  4. I just got a JVC digital projector and a dalite hi power 2.8 gain 10 foot wide screen. It is freakin unbelievable! I couldn’t believe my eyes of how clear it is for such a huge image. I just painted the wall white at first before i got the screen and that was even stunning. I can’t imagine anyone not getting an HD projector these days as they are now great quality at 2-3k. panasonic ae4000, lg181, jvc rs10 etc…

    I’ll probably never go to a movie theater again unless they really step up with something unique. I don’t need to go see “Wall Street 2” since I have a backlog of 100 bluerays on my blockbuster mail order account and more and more HD options on demand.

    That could be increasingly true for sports other than an occasional game to get out and about and the “i gotta be there” games. Have some friends over for a fun get together. (I got free tix for tonights Twins/Yankees playoff game 1).

    I used to be in the music biz so concerts too, I’d be interested in a live HD simulcast of concerts. Great picture quality, great sound, unique closeup shots. Big venues offer very little in view or sound quality (unless you like AM radio) I think there is an opportunity for popular touring bands to offer some paid simulcast (or free other tour stop dates w/ purchase of tickets to one show) in HD for home theaters and even commercial theaters who want to fill in their slower nights during the week. Even sporting events in theaters. But once people plunk down 2g’s for an HD projector for home, the game changes quickly.

    So I agree that sports teams, movie theaters need to offer additional value to incentivise people to attend. The bar is definitely being raised especially with HD projectors getting so excellent and affordable.

    Comment by commoncents66 -

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  7. Mark,

    Interesting post. I’ll be sure to attend a game next time I’m in Dallas during the season and see if this works. I’m constantly “looking down” on my iPhone to check other scores, news, etc. I am an information junky, curious how these unique things at Maverick games might be able to hold my attention.

    Speaking of which. I spoke to you briefly in Boston at the sports analytics conference earlier this year. I recently (re) built my website and would like to know your thoughts. I’ve spoken to a lot of folks involved (to one degree or another) in professional sports about on-field, on-court performance – been doing this a long time actually.

    I’ve thrown out all of the “traditional” statistics-based metrics and really boiled this down to what makes a team win or lose (no secret it’s the players and their interactions).

    Let me know if you have any interest. If not, best of luck this season.


    Comment by bryanb426 -

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    Comment by starsfan7 -

  10. Mark,
    Please buy the Tampa Bay Bucs and move the team so I can be out of my misery. I was a loyal fan with two club seats since they built the new stadium. 12 years, No more. The owners decide to put garbage on the field and deserve every non-sell out they get.

    Comment by plsponge -


    NFL Fumbles on Blackouts: Sellout Rule Hurts Football in the HD Age

    This Sunday, another NFL game will be blacked out because of sagging ticket sales — which just proves that the NFL doesn’t understand what it has done to its own product.

    See full article from DailyFinance:

    Comment by worldbfree4me -

  12. Mark, you hit the nail on the head with this one. You, my friend, are in the business for all of the right reasons. It seems like the world these days has gotten so caught up with the ease and convenience of technology, that we have forgotten what really matters: the experience.

    Call me old-fashioned (or not – I’m only 21…), but the internet and TV will never replicate the experiences that real life interactions create, or the emotions that are tied to those experiences.

    Comment by aguynamedloren -

  13. When I began in advertising I learned that people buy a mental image of the end result of using a product a service. If you sell a jukebox you present the picture of a friend over at your home drinking beers, rockin’ out and admiring you to death for creating that special experience with your jukebox.

    It’s good to see you know what business you are in and are successful filling that need.

    BTW please say hello to TS who worked on my team at TM on GTE. I met briefly with you in NY at a DMA conference right after the yahoo deal. I would like to connect with you to discuss how to take your Success program into something you can use to inspire those struggling right now.


    Steve B.

    Comment by kite1956 -

  14. I dont know man.
    I´ve been to many sporting events in few countries. Specially do I follow european soccer and NBA. The thing that is killing sports in the USA is comercial breaks. I know that is how the teams get there money but come on. fleshlight

    Comment by okan1979 -

  15. The horn or system is Sacramento. California has been my home for over 20 years and being apart of it has been the greatest experience in my lire. Sell out games more than a lot. The statium has been in Sacramento for people who do notvlive in Sacramento. Florin and I 5 Ives of all sacramnrtos in all cities. Wow that’s down in sacramento gou were there! Yes we were there! People were there! seks shop

    Comment by okan1979 -

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  17. Great post.

    I was just took my 7 year-old son to his first NFL game (Broncos v Seahawks) and he was just excited to see all the things that were going on in and around the stadium. The pre-game, the balloons, the parachutists coming in the stadium, the fly over from the air force jets – all part of his experience. So I can agree with you that it’s an event.

    For myself – the fan – here’s my complaints with the NFL. Too many TV time outs. Extra Point – then time out. Kickoff – then time out. Offense goes 3 and out and punts – time out. The times outs associated with every change of possession are just unbearable. You get a defensive stand, the crowd is going crazy, the offense comes on the field and stands there for five minutes while the crowd noise dies out, etc. Then there are big messages on the screens – Make Some Noise – hey, we were making plenty of noise but you killed the momentum.

    I can’t stand watching the NFL live – only the big events. I can’t waste hours of my Sunday in front of the television getting bombarded with constant TV time outs for commercials. I DVR all the games and watch them on my time.

    Complaint about the NBA – it’s just not as great a game in the playoffs it use to be and that is where you convert casual fans. Look at this year’s playoff series with Boston and Cleveland. Three of the games were total blowouts 104-86 Boston Win, 124 – 95 Cleveland win, 120-88 Boston. Look at the Mav’s 102-88 Spurs, the 103-81 Mavs. BORING. BORING. BORING. You better have good entertainment in the stands to keep fans interested. The NBA is all about “runs” and withstanding “runs” and as a fan I translate that into we’re going to slack for some time and hopefully it won’t get away from us. In the playoffs I’ve noticed teams just pack it in midway through the 2nd (before halftime for God’s sake) if they are getting whooped. Sit their stars and go for the next game. Only Game 7’s have any heat to them anymore. I can’t imagine Michael, Magic, Larry, Stockton just packing it in during the second quarter and thinking we’ll get em next game.

    MLB – I love going to Wrigley and Fenway because there is not the constant barrage of loud videos and ridiculous fan contests during the game. No big HD screens. It’s an interesting experience to watch a game at these stadiums as for me it brings a sense of peace and timelessness to the game. Anytime I’m traveling through Boston or Chicago during baseball season – I’m looking at the schedules to see if can get a ticket for the game. I don’t care who they are playing.

    You’re a great owner Mark, keep it up.

    Comment by James Clark -

  18. I dont know man.
    I´ve been to many sporting events in few countries. Specially do I follow european soccer and NBA. The thing that is killing sports in the USA is comercial breaks. I know that is how the teams get there money but come on.
    To tell you the truth I sometimes feel kind of silly when I travel to the USA and use the oppertunity to go to NBA a games. I love the game but sometimes this is more like going to a circus because of all the timeouts. I want to see the people more crasy. One more thing 82 games, that is 41 game too much.

    Comment by chilmar -

  19. Mark,
    This is the type of owner we are looking for in Los Angeles.

    I would love to have you liquidate the Dodgers from the greedy McCourt’s grip and bring back this type of feeling to LA Baseball.

    This week we lost Joe Torre to the controversy of their divorce, how does an injustice happen.

    I have already started the campaign to bring you to LA. Tell me you will think about it…

    Comment by mdominguez2222 -

  20. Mark do you have a box in the cowboys stadiam?

    Comment by benkadish -

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  23. Could you please buy an MLS franchise? MLS could learn a lot from you.

    Seriously, this is a great post. Those music and video fan participation things are great ideas.

    Comment by manutebol -

  24. i kind of agree with ckmy 😀 but emotions are not so good nowadays

    Comment by esteroizi -

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  26. I heard a teacher gripe about the same issue. . .”my kids are always trying to watch their phones and txt durring my class.”

    I guess no matter where you are in America today, you’re always fighting YouTube for people’s attention. But that’s the market for attention. And apparently (based on how much effort Bball planners put into their event) the bar = taller than Tyson Chandler.


    “If a play deserves a replay, we will put it up on the big screen”

    That kinda goes against the long tail model that the internet avail people to. Maybe as screen quality on phones keeps getting better and brighter the solution is to beam different replay options into peoples phones like audio used to be at the drive-in. Well haha, that’s a crazy idea, but who knows what’ll work… has to be some advantage there.

    Comment by ckmy -

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  28. This is why Mark Cuban is the best owner in sports. First, he is a true fan. Mark has passion for everything he does. If all his players had the passion and heart Mark has…they would win every single game.

    I have personally seen Mark in enemy territory like Boston, LA, and others. The fans in those towns LOVE him. They ask for autographs and photos…and he agrees to every single one. He will take the time to talk to anyone and shake hands with the opposing teams fans. Do you know any other owners that do that? Or do you know any fans that would want to shake hands with the opposing team’s owner? Amazing!

    Mark, you are the man!

    Don Dodge

    Comment by dondodge -

  29. The horn or system is Sacramento. California has been my home for over 20 years and being apart of it has been the greatest experience in my lire. Sell out games more than a lot. The statium has been in Sacramento for people who do notvlive in Sacramento. Florin and I 5 Ives of all sacramnrtos in all cities. Wow that’s down in sacramento gou were there! Yes we were there! People were there!

    In a nutshell people know that sacramento is about experience. And I for one am a hippocrite. My family owns the most successful residential moving company and yet moving all the kings players home is not enoug hot enjoy what the mallows have done here and why i even live in my penthouse downtown.

    Thank you Sacramento it’s been really cool!

    Comment by owlparrot -

  30. @hawkman02 – You do hit on a very good point. The price of seats and concessions is they are way out of whack for the average fan. As long as the leagues keep selling out, though, they are going to have the profits that allow them to pay players salaries that are totally out of proportion to the star level of the player.

    That’s just supply-and-demand. Eventually, the individual fan will be priced out of the market and those that attend will be sitting in corporate seats. That’s pretty much a prescription of professional league suicide. But, it won’t happen in my lifetime.

    Comment by dxkraus -

  31. The problem isn’t with the “fan experience” and the “lookdown” factor. The problem is with the price at the concession stands! After a beer or two and something to eat, people are looking at their online bank account via their iPhone!

    I love basketball and I’m a huge Mavs fan. If I’m going to pay $65 a seat why should I also have to drop $200 just to feed a family of 4??? That’s just not a good use of my hard earned money.

    For the cost of a large beer at the AAC, I can buy a 12 pack from the store and enjoy them at home. No traffic, no long lines and the best seat in town in front of my TV.

    More people would go if it was more affordable! Not my problem that you have to cover millions in salaries for these overpaid divas.

    Comment by hawkman02 -

  32. @Jack Whittington – you’ve hit on exactly what I’ve witnessed at Sounders FC games. The management attempted to re-create the atmosphere at an EPL match, and that has resulted in a far more enjoyable game day than in any other sporting event I’ve attended.

    Now, part of that is Seattle is unique in that it is an urban city (density is almost twice that of Dallas), and the downtown core is vibrant with people who actually live there, and there are great bars of all sorts within 4 blocks of the stadium that folks can align with for their pre- and post-game experience.

    Another thing they did in Seattle is honored the fans’ role. Initially, when they were opting for names, they came up with 3 – 4 alternatives, and put it to the vote of anyone interested. Sounders was not one of the choices. But, people in Seattle are big on their sporting traditions, and Sounders was an overwhelming winner as a write-in.

    Plus, they integrated in players, management, and coaches from the old USL Sounders so they created a feeling of continuity. That was probably key in being able to obtain the name Sounders from the old owner, who is part of the new ownership group.

    And, finally, they created a fans alliance which sits in periodically with management and gets private updates on what club strategies are for building the team. You either join the alliance by buying season tickets or paying something like $100 a year if you don’t have season tickets. The alliance chooses leaders who do the meetings, and every four years the alliance gets to vote on management (albeit in an advisory role).

    All of this creates a very strong bond between the team and its’ fans. The smashing of all known attendance records for soccer in this country is proof it works. There is nothing like being in a sea of “rave” green at home matches.

    Mark figured out some of this stuff a long time ago. Even though, for the most part, our e-mail exchanges have been brief, they happen, and that builds a bond, too. I don’t agree with everything he does or says, but I’ll kick anybody’s ass for talking smack about him. He’s MY owner.

    The Sounders have taken that concept to the next level. I only say that because Drew Carey bought me a beer, and I’m still waiting on a shot of whiskey from Mark.

    Comment by dxkraus -

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  34. Attending pro sports events have become more about experiencing the stadium, rather than experiencing the game.

    In my humble opinion no matter how much “entertainment” you put in front of the fans its never going to be enough to hold their attention, some people are going to get bored period. You used a wedding analogy so I’ll borrow from it too. What makes that situation work? It’s the fact that everyone at the wedding knows each other or they are at least one degree removed from knowing someone there so its a more comfortable environment for everyone involved. You can let your hair down and if you look like a dork doing the macarena that’s OK because you’re in good company.

    Alternatively Grandma Ethel is not going to be doing the macarena while she’s sitting next to emo-boy in a stadium/arena. I’ve heard and read various sports writers state that iconic venues like Fenway, Wrigley, Lambeau etc all have “personality” there’s something about the stadium that people identify with on a personal level and as well as the people around them. With newer stadiums its hard to identify with cutting edge HD ribbon boards spanning the arena and a jumbotron that Neil Armstrong could have seen from outer space and the obviously well to do people sitting courtside in sports jackets – meanwhile Joe the Plumber is in the rafters living and dieing by Dirks every move with an old school Mavs jersey on.

    Take for example English soccer venues. I had the tremendous opportunity of doing a study abroad program this summer in Ireland and visited London for a weekend. I went and visited Stamford Bridge and was shocked at just how simple the layout was – there’s not a bad seat in the house and I think there was only one – maybe two video boards in the place because fans could obviously see close enough that they didn’t need a video board, and the suites are there but its not obvious and glaring that they are there. I also got to visit Craven Cottage – home of Fulham FC in West London. I did not get to go into the stadium but the outside facade of the stadium was lacking to say the least and in need of an obvious upgrade. Fulham is owned by Mohammed Al-Fayed he could build Fulham a new stadium any time he pleases, but fans have rejected any call for a new stadium, they are quite content with what they have because they remember going to the game with dad, brother, uncle, and that John sat in front of us with his son, and that old Mr. Smith had been sitting in section 1 for the last twenty years – you can’t put a price on that, its things like that, those intangibles that make people WANT to come to every game they can.

    Fans make the stadium – fans make the atmosphere – not the other way around. I want to go to the game with people who enjoy the game, people who are passionate about the team, cheer my guts out, and not worry too much about looking like an idiot while doing it. The Black Hole in Oakland wouldn’t work if there was just one guy dressing up as Darth Vader every game – there has to be a spark or a catalyst that says, hey its OK to be fun and crazy (all in good taste of course) and if you look silly, great! We’ll all look silly with you! But it cant be the PA, it cant be the cheerleaders or mascots, its gotta be a fan or group of fans throughout the arena that get the place going. We’re more inclined as humans to do something if we see it rather than hear it.

    If nobody else in my immediate area is being rowdy or loud, then I’m not going to be loud or rowdy either. Nobody wants to be “that” guy. But if everyone’s doing it, then it must be OK for me to do it. There’s some circular reasoning there, but it is what it is.

    With the schedule the NBA has I’m not sure how you foster that kind of atmosphere – its difficult for a lot of people to make one game a season, much less every game all season. For an example of what I’m talking about watch the movie Celtic Pride, those are normal guys who have tickets to every game and they know everyone sitting around them and have had the same seats for years. Granted that movie is nearly 15 years old but I think it shows clearly how far we’ve moved away from the “community” feel at sports events to the mass spectacles of production that they have become today.

    Comment by Jack Whittington -

  35. Well Mark, I don’t go to live sporting events because I’m not about to give up any of my cash to pay for millionaire sport salaries or multi-millionaire team owners profits.

    I also resent the hell out of the way sports teams wrangle public financing out of local taxpayers. Pay for your own stadiums, you darn socialists.

    Comment by johnanon -

  36. Mark,

    I do think that living in the bay area we can appreciate some of your ponash here for thte 49 nears and poor old Alex Smith running the show all season. But I must disagree with your tactics for one fundamental reason. Ticket price value.

    Do you think that your best fans are going to sit down with granny for the “intent perfect equilibrium strategy” of a one hour wait to leave over staying home and playing bowling on the kiddies ipads and andriods over some hot cocoa with a fire roasting in winter?

    Well i got news for you grandma is sick and fragile so if it means risking her night out it better be because the money spent on that evening when to some kind of family engaging hat rdif hat that checks into Q and As that the kiddy can hand over the iPad that grandma can read and challenge other grand ma’s also there to a game of bridge. And surpass winnings for a bingo like raffle at the end or the match if your gonna even have a shot at her coming back…just a thought.

    Comment by owlparrot -

  37. Hi Mark, I completely agree with you about the fans’ experience during professional sports games. It is one of the only thing team owners and management staff can work on to combat the “elusive fan” who finds it easier/better/cheaper (etc..) to watch the game at home or in a bar. Being from Pittsburgh as well, you know the city does not have a hard time attracting sports fans. The Steelers play at Heinz Field, one of the least over-the-top arenas in the NFL. Do you think that, because they are such a power-house team and a deep-rooted tradition in the city, they will ever face this “fan experience” problem and risk losing any fans in the stands? In your opinion, do all teams need to begin, if they have not already, to follow your example and prepare for an “inevitable” future of professional sports needing to do more than just play the game?

    Comment by lask411 -

  38. I agree with many of these comments, but believe that the experience starts when you leave home and ends when you return. This means that teams must devise unique content on their pregame and postgame radio shows, the parking experience & traffic flow needs to be handled flawlessly and with ease and access into the building must be convenient and non-complicated. In the NBA games are not a 2 1/2 hour expereince, but a potential 4 hour experience. In football it may be a 6 hour experience. When you sit in your seat you should be entertained and not to music designed to please the players and video entertaining the crowd, not worrying about disrupting the player warmups.

    Comment by jimsteeg -

  39. More “Dirky Dancing”!!! lol

    Comment by nathanfrantz -

  40. Though I appreciate whenever ownership makes decisions with the fan experience in mind I couldn’t disagree more with your view of how fans enjoy games. It obviously makes for a great scene when kids are dancing in the aisles while mom and dad watch on but I think you’re underestimating the segment of fans that are there to see the finer points of the game and would prefer a more ‘bare bones’ experience. Whenever I attend a Mets game (please buy us by the way!) I want to get as close as possible, cheer on my guys when they need it and try to feel like as much a part of the game as possible, rather than part of the experience around the game. I’m not sure what the percentage of fans are like me and distracted/taken out of the flow of a game, whos outcome will determine my mood for the rest of the day, by excessive music/replays (though there is definately a place for both). I also don’t think catering to fans like me is as profitable as the way to run a business as what your post advocated, so by all means go with what will make your business successful. Just know there’s a reasonably sized segment of ‘diehard’ fans that will resent these kind of changes and follow their teams from the couch/blogosphere and will ultimately be a little more alienated from something they’re VERY attached to. keep up the good blog.

    Comment by metsrule40 -

  41. Mark, I want to see you do the duggie on center court this year. Along with all the Mavs. Teach me how to duggie.

    And I agree…it’s why I prefer watching NFL games in bars – for the atmosphere and relationships. And thanks for making Mavs games affordable.

    Comment by sfhc21 -

  42. Mark,
    This is one of the best write-ups I’ve seen about this topic so far. I wholeheartedly agree. I’m posting something tomorrow on my blog related to the fan’s experience (based on a few things I noticed at the Jets game last night), but based on what I saw at the game, there were a lot of people texting, tweeting or looking at their iPhones. It is good to see owners like yourself taking responsibility for the fan’s experience; nothing beats a great fan experience at a game no matter how large your HDTV is.

    Comment by mikesprouse -

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  44. Thanks for the info about how deeply you guys take the sports viewing experience.

    Until the “dancers” are dealt with, how do you expect parents to take their kids to such events?

    Lets be honest: the only dancers at NBA games are just strippers without a pole. Most of them have less cloths on that you find 90% of the time at strip clubs.

    I don’t think I want my 3 year old daughter thinking that parading around 3/4th naked in public while pantomime sex moves is a normal thing.

    You are a father Cuban – there is no way on earth you can think what nba dancers do should be seen by children. I am no prude, but there is no way I am taking my kids to another NBA game. The last one I was to with them was flat out obscene.

    Comment by btabke -

  45. Luckily we have the Jerry Jones circus and his convertible tint! Ok not quite as fun as a Mavs game but still!

    Comment by nathanfrantz -

  46. When Shaq was playing for the Suns, the video was Dirk as a Jedi fighting against Nash and during the timeout, Shaq is looking at the video and laughing rather than being involved in the huddle.

    Comment by agsmth -

  47. Were you still interested with the Pittsburgh Pirates?

    Comment by mmasc15 -

  48. Don’t blame HDTV, blame the inflated concessions price. You can try to entice suckers with the $5-$30 tickets, but anyone who has been to a game knows that they are going to get fleeced at the concession stand. There are more of us out there that “can” afford the ticket and concession prices, but simply refuse to do so out of principle. Most people that have the financial means to afford the inflated concessions prices are in that position precisely BECAUSE they refuse to overspend on overpriced products. Until sports franchise owners get real back in touch with reality regarding concessions, the middle class will continue to boycott.

    Comment by cory1481 -

  49. NBA games are about more than who wins or loses. Only one team can win on any given night. And only one team can win a championship each season. If only championship teams could have rabid fans, then there wouldn’t be that many rabid fans. By marketing games as an entertainment product and not just a game, Mark Cuban has created an excellent fan experience. The NBA product is a fan experience, not just a game. Thanks Mark!

    Comment by josephwesley -

  50. My memories of great sporting events go back to being at the NFL Championship game in the Cotton Bowl in ’66 (I believe) when Dandy Don drove the Cowboys down the field and threw an interception to give the Packers the championship. Heart broken little 10 year old.

    And there are a lot of Mavs memories, but I can remember how fun it was that first season to get off work and walk over to Reunion Arena and sit with my buddies up in the rafters, dancing and singing “Shout!”. Those were great days.

    For me, I recapture those early moments of sports’ fun at our Sounders FC soccer matches now. Without a doubt, the management team here is the best in sports, and have put together a tremendous fan experience. It’s not about hand held devices (iPhone gets crappy reception in Qwest), and I don’t mind that controversial plays don’t get shown on the big screen.

    What makes the Sounders experience so special in sports in our country is the fans and the way we are treated by the team. The team plays in a downtown stadium, in an area with a lot of great old bars. Fans start meeting up 2 – 3 hours before the game, and the bar you pick determines the pre-game experience. I go to a bar called Fuel, where the fan association – the Emerald City Supporters – meet and sing and chant and drink and basically have a good ol’ rowdy time.

    And one of our owners, Drew Carey, will make the rounds of the bars on occasion. And, it’s not a meet-and-greet, but the man buys a round of beers for the bar. And, he’s a genuinely nice guy who seems to be as awestruck by the experience as we are.

    Then, folks move en masse to a public park, Occidental Square, where we listen to music by our marching band (the only one in MLS), and then march behind them to the stadium, stopping traffic for blocks with our scarves held over our heads.

    And, the stadium experience is magnificent. We draw around 36,000 for every game, and the architecture of Qwest echoes the sound back into the stadium, so it gets very loud. And, then, the most amazing thing is that everyone in the lower bowl stands the ENTIRE game. And people dance and sing and chant.

    It’s crazy, and it’s the best sporting environment in the USA today, and hand helds have nothing to do with it.

    Mark, you should come up and see this to believe it. Even a savvy pro like you would be amazed. I’m sure Drew would be glad to take you on the rounds of the bars.

    Did I say it’s soccer?

    Comment by dxkraus -

  51. In the future games will be played in front of digital audiences making up 90% of the audience. Fans will be CGI. Special effects. It will look mostly real on TV. The stadium will be empty.

    Hell there won’t even be stadiums. Why not build a 4000 seat arena for less than 1/10 the cost of a stadium and fake the rest and make your money on TV rights?

    AS you said the experience at home is better in most ways.

    The entertainment in the stadiums that you mention is the stuff I could care less about until it’s not there. I would miss some of the music or the the little rc helicopter buzzing around or the mascot doing tricks, etc at some games at some arenas. You’d miss it mostly just as eye candy. It is like you say – something to look “up” at.

    But one problem is that much of that stuff is generic and gets old the more you attend games or the more you’re interested in the game itself.

    I’m more interested in the team myself. but these days it is more difficult than ever to relate to teams when players change sides much more frequently and make so much more money relative to the cost of living than they did 20 years.

    The relationship between, player and owner is one of the fan being asked to give more money to make the athletes and owners richer. And when the owners get the money they spend more money on players. And when they spend that money the next step is to ask again for even more money in the form of ticket price increases, concession price increase, publicly financed stadiums and more commercials than ever in a 3hr football game.

    And it keeps going and going until finally fans push back I guess and say feck it. I mean it can’t continue on forever – this dramatic rise in salaries of athletes compared to the cost of living. Fans will push back.

    The only way it continues is if they are successful expanding the tv audience. You can only expand the stadiums/arenas so much and increase ticket prices so much.

    So I guess they’ll have to expand tv audiences.

    Otherwise I think pro sports is due for a push back. I don’t mean burn to the ground. But a 10%-20% fall from its peak.

    Basketball has more of a chance because the audience is more worldwide. Football is American-only and hasn’t seen success overseas.

    btw, watch quite a few football games now on the DVR instead of live. Just skipping commercials and halftime make a 3 hr game a 1 1/2 game. If I really want am lacking and still want to watch the game then 30 second skip between plays coincides perfectly with the time teams usually take in between plays.

    Comment by trip1ex -

  52. Every team in every sport should offer one game a year as “Silent Night” – no music, no PA announcer, no videos, no artificial sound whatsoever, except for the whistles, the skates, the umpires, the sneakers, the players jawing at each other, etc. One game out of 41, Mark! Give our ears a break!

    Comment by Ken Carpenter -

  53. I’m a full season-ticket holder for the Tampa Bay Lightning, and a former partial-plan buyer for the Orlando Magic. I want only two things when I attend any sporting event: 1) good WiFi access; 2) occasional moments of silence so I can talk to the people siting with me.

    The NBA games in Orlando are a non-stop avalanche of noise, with piped-in drumming continuing even during play. I hate it so much I am not returning for the 2010-11 season, in a brand-new arena.

    I want WiFi so I can look up stats, standings, schedules, post stuff on Twitter and Facebook, etc. The St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa has crappy WiFi, and I’ve written to new Lightning owner Jeff Vinick to fix the situation. The Lightning uses ever break in the action to blast some promotional/advertising announcement at us, never giving us GAME information.

    Comment by Ken Carpenter -

  54. Pingback: Mark Cuban’s Fan Experience « Wildwynd's Blog

  55. I respectfully disagree with Mr. Cuban’s conclusion though I do agree with one point. As Mark writes, what I remember most about going to sporting events when I was a kid was my dad. My dad’s excitement. His true enjoyment (his own — not just his enjoying my excitement). And I was excited right along side. It was memorable and it secured a place for sports in my heart.

    What was less memorable was going to the circus. The circus was fun — but not in an enduring way. The circus pulled out all the stops to capture my attention. My dad took me and that was nice — but I could tell that he was only lightly amused. I think we went once and I never pressed to go back. I much more enjoyed going with him to a baseball game.

    I agree it’s a bummer that everybody is multitasking with their cell phones all the time. But you can’t fight it by simply trying to shout louder and occupy every moment of their attention. It’s desperate and ultimately it won’t work.

    What the NBA needs to do is appeal to the true sports fans. My dad hates the new forced party atmosphere of every sporting event — and so do I. It’s amusing but it a very shallow way. Your marketing people are being faked out by the breadth of appeal. Anybody can enjoy going to an NBA game now — maybe once or twice. But you are eroding the base of true fans and over time you’ll see your market shrink. You’ll blame HD TV and mobile devices but in fact, what killed you was losing focus on the core value of your product.

    Comment by gus66 -

  56. It’s too bad that in professional sports, at least the big 3, that we can’t somehow limit the players salaries, throttle it down from the absurdity and reduce the price of the tickets and everything else from the parking to the beers, but I guess when you are selling out every game anyway, there really is no reason.
    If the economy worsens which I think it will over the next 2 years, there will be every big 3 sports team and then some that will be hurting in the live ticket sales, then the owners will be thinking about the 100 million dollar contracts given to the players and wonder how it would be if the max contract was 10 million a year, the athletes would still be fricken rich, the owners would have more wiggle room and the option to reduce costs to entice fans in dire times.

    Allow the middle and lower class income families enjoy the game. It isn’t just the cost of the ticket! For that primary reason, people will stay home in front of their HDTV. It’s got to be a damn good wedding and even that won’t get too many repeat visitors except for that sportsaholic that loves the live games. For me, I fortunately can afford any game I want, and even though I love sports, I would rather watch it within the comforts of my home, especially with the way the economy is, more crime and road rage going on everyday.

    HDTV Sports Fan

    Comment by bluefusiononline -

  57. I agree with you on the experience part. However, I think that teams in all sports have lost sight of the economics of the middle class family. Personally, I have one season ticket with a bunch of college buddies for an NFL team, but I could never dream of affording to take my family to the game. My seats aren’t good, but the price is $70 per. Add an outrageously priced concession stand to the picture, and it’s impossible. Try taking your daughter and wife to the game and telling them that you can’t afford another $50 at the concession stand. I know that the teams bank on concession revenue, but I think lowering the price of this aspect of the game experience would go a long way in bringing fans back to the stadiums. For the price of two beers at the game, I could buy a case at the store. I like going to the games, but I’m sure this sort of thing keeps a lot of people at home. I don’t think it’s all about the TV experience.

    Comment by hoovera -

  58. I don’t have a problem with what you’re saying. And I specifically think what you’re referring to – those handsets they’re going to be handing out at NFL games – are terrible. I think you’re right on point… they are trying to get you closer to the game, but that’s not the issue, the issue is a unique experience.

    One thing I DO like, however, are stats. I like to have the stats in my hand. The scoreboards never have all the stats, or I can’t find them, or I can’t read them! I recently got a Droid X phone, so I don’t think that’ll be as much of a problem, but I think making stats more accessible is a good thing. That’s another thing I like about watching the game at home. You get to see who is doing really well at what. And who is playing… and if that guy still plays for your team.

    This is not to be critical of you or the Mavs… well, it is, but in a constructive way. One thing I HATE about Mavs games is that there are so many people that wear dresses and pink polos and fratty/sorority crap like that. I don’t even hate frat guys or sorority chicks, but IT’S A BASKETBALL GAME! At least wear a green or blue polo!

    That’s one thing I love about what the Rangers are doing… letting the fans know what colors to wear. There’s no reason we couldn’t have a crowd of blue or green or white at every stinking home game. It might seem a little bit of a cult, but is that so wrong? We are, aren’t we? MFFL? 🙂

    Just my two cents.

    Comment by firebertjustice -

  59. Pingback: PETtellE » Blog Archive » Mark Cuban has a new post

  60. HDTV is why I don’t have 49er season tickets. I love the room I have staying at home, laying on the couch, watching, the game, using the internet, pausing LIVE tv to go to the bathroom or the kitchen to make a sandwich, etc.

    I was shocked when I drove to the SF Giants game last week and had to pay $30 to park!! That is robbery! And I like to drink beer which is $10 each. If I keep going to these games I’m gonna be broke and I’m not a miser, but I’m not going to spend HUGE amount of money on things that should be FREE or CHEAP like parking and beer.

    Im not a fan of watching games on my iPhone, but I am a fan of my 50 inch Samsung.

    Comment by jspeck8370 -

  61. Interesting post.

    In spirit, I’m on board with the concept.

    That said, what I like about holding a personal replay device at sporting events is the ability to make my own determination of when “… a play deserves a replay…”

    Sporting events need the ability to provide something not available on TV. In the world of NASCAR, it is the ability to listen to scanners and if you like the ability to watch the device.

    What would be cool at a basketball game is to have on court microphones where fans could listen to the in game chatter. Obviously, this would be PG rated experience but it would bring something to the experience that cannot be found at home. I would think it would be interesting.

    In summary, it is a bit of a bummer but people are flat out addicted to their personal devices and they want to be the first person in their circle to know something…

    Comment by ctfm -

  62. For me, the live pro sports fan experience is denigrated by all the hoopla that is put up on the video screens and through the PA system.

    The message I receive from all that is that the actual entertainment performance put on by the athletes is so second-rate that they have to feed me “drugs” to give me the feeling that I’m having fun.

    Put it this way: compare a regular season game that “doesn’t really matter” (in the typical sports-talk way) to a crucial playoff game. (I know not every game is going to be as intense as that playoff game, but I want the contrast). The fans are engaged in the TEAM at the playoff game, but probably not so much at the regular season one. They don’t need the hyped-up environment; they make the environment hyper and it’s real. It’s not real if it’s the video/sound system doing it.

    I think that’s one reason pro sports is dwindling.

    Also, since the players are the entertainers, and are paid to be, they ought to put their emotions in it and give a good performance every game. The fans can feel it when the players do not care.

    Comment by Jerry -

  63. Chrisyoura: I live in the DC area, so I’m not a Pittsburgh homer—but it really is a relavant town with corporations like Heinz, Bayer, Siemens—lots of colleges, big University hospitals and international Airport, etc. And you sort of make my point—no, it’s not LA, but Mark Cuban wouldn’t just make the Pirates relavant again, he’d put Pittsburgh itself back on the map. Like I said, he meets challenges head-on.

    Comment by dcangelo -

  64. dcangelo- but he’d still have to deal with Pittsburgh.

    You might be better off moving than aligning yourself with a pro ball team in a part of the country that means absolutely nothing to the rest of the world.

    Besides all that, there isn’t a bad seat in Dodger stadium (and I’ve been in all of them). Following the formula above Mark could easily turn it into a huge occupation for millions of VIP’s.

    I don’t see a lot of A-listers turning up (and doing deals) at PP games. But I’ve been wrong before..


    Comment by chrisyoura -

  65. Pretty worthless post, but I know exactly what needs to be done to increase attendance in professional sports. Ironically, its much more than technology.

    Comment by toddduncan2 -

  66. Mark,

    Part of the problem that some people alluded to is the stadium design. I love going to Yankee games, but the new seats of Yankee stadium are farther away. Yes there was a little cramped feeling of the seats and you were more vertically stacked, but you felt real close to the field and close to the fans. Now the seats are more spread out because it is cheaper and to give more comfort. But you lose the crowd factor, the feeling from the game. I felt more isolated. The previous Yankee Stadium was loud. Other stadiums have done this also. I know Invesco stadium where the Broncos play, the average seat is also farther back and more spread out. Owners have no idea because they only sit in a box, not in a fan seat.

    Don’t lose the crowd buzz factor. I don’t know if NBA arenas have fallen into the same trap.

    Comment by rbilotta -

  67. I agree that HDTV makes staying home and watching football much better than fighting the traffic, the rowdy, profane, drunk knucklehead fans. I just don’t feel safe sitting in the crowd anymore. … The last sporting event I went to was at Staples Center. I got to sit in a corporate suite for a game between the Clippers and the Mavericks 2 years ago. Now I felt very safe at that event because I was in a suite with around 7 other fellow employees. I think because of the MLB, NBA and NFL TV packages available on cable and Direct TV . … Now, I can watch just about any game I want. … way back in the 1960s, the Dodgers only showed the 9 road games against the Giants on TV. Home games were never on TV. The Saturday baseball game of the week was a real event. So going to a game was big deal then.

    Comment by mrduke2 -

  68. The description of the wedding was very emotional. Great writing.

    Comment by shaggy0798 -

  69. Chrisyoura: Get in line—there are many of us who want him to buy the Pirates and restore some order to that franchise. He seems to thrive on challenges and frankly, at this point in time, the Pirates are a bigger challenge than LA’s Dodgers. I have no doubt that in roughly three years, Mr. Cuban would accomplish the following:
    *Double the Pirates attendance.
    *Over .500 record and on the track to becoming a playoff team
    *Increase the value of the team substantially
    *Boost Pittsburgh’s economy, at least on game days
    *Contriubute to civic pride

    Comment by dcangelo -

  70. Brilliant insight. Everything you said is why I’m more inclined to go to a game vs. watching it on TV (and I rarely watch any sports at home).

    Now please get a deal going for the Dodgers and actually give me a reason to get off my couch. 😉 Such a clusterf**k in such a short time.

    Comment by chrisyoura -

  71. Pingback: Wedding Blog

  72. This is why our fearless blog leader made a fortune and is wealthy enough to own one of the teams we merely talk about. He makes brilliant observations in this post. I’ll add—I’m a KC Chiefs fan, but I happen to live in the Washington, DC area, so I’m better able to comment on the Redskins. When they played at RFK stadium—the experience of the game was tremendous. Everything from the old stadium literally shaking (Built for baseball, not football—maybe it wasn’t designed for 50,000 people stomping.), to “The Hogettes” and a scholastic sounding band playing after touchdowns—it didn’t matter if it was 25 degrees and snowing or a perfect day—fans wanted to be there instead of their living rooms. Fast forward to the sterile environment of Fed-X Field and you have a much larger stadium with more seating capacity, that isn’t nearly as loud or exciting. No fan-caused earthquakes in the new stadium—it’s too “corporate.” I don’t care if they claim sellouts or not, you see a lot of empty seats every week. The charm just isn’t there and that means no atmosphere. Those empty seats are probably corporate sales—and the ticket holders prefer the big HDTV and a kitchen full of food instead of the agonizing beltway trip to the remote area where the stadium is located—overpriced parking and overpriced, lousy food. Sometimes, the best “atmosphere” happens by improvised accident—-like the cast of characters at RFK. Even with some of them moving to Fed-X Field, it’s just not the same.

    Comment by dcangelo -

  73. The only fan experience I want is to see my team win. While the music and stuff on the video is fine, the only thing I want is my team to win. I had the good luck to go to the fifth game of the Stanley Cup final in Chicago. They could have done away with everything except for video replays and you could not have asked for a more thrilling experience. Granted it was the finals, but if you were Hawk fan at the game, it gave one chills to hear the Anthem and the screaming fans and the cheering after goals and after the game was won. I am going to remember that game for ever (I am 63 if that makes any difference.) The other event that I attended was the 57 World Series when Matthews hit a a walk off homer to win the fourth game. Granted a championship game and a singular event. Granted you won’t remember every game you attend. Maybe kids like all the other stuff that goes on at games. Although I have to say the sausage race is fun. I live in Wisconsin.

    Just to repeat, put a winning team on the field or in the arena and that will take care of everything. I would like to add that video replays of controversial plays would be nice. I understand the leagues don’t like that but I would like to see those as well.

    Comment by sanford943 -

  74. I guess I come from a totally different area,
    Im the broke, one month behind on my mortgage, four kids at home paycheck to paycheck, hey kids Christmas is gonna be really small this year guy,
    The thing that keeps me away from certain sports and in front of the tv are different reasons, I cant afford going to live events any more, and it will be a while before I can justify $20-$30 in parking and $300 plus tickets to see a live event, I think the reason ticket sales are down is not because of the experience, its because people cant afford it right now…times are really bad.

    Football, cant afford the ticket,the parking,the food,I cant take 9 hours out of a day to spend for the whole NFL experience, plus I would go insane if I did dropped $400 for cheat seats for me and my son and I have to sit behind drunk fat guy with a D-Fence sign blocking my kids view.

    Home theaters have created a new type of experience and new types of memories that are created for the whole family rather than going to a game and only being able to afford taking one kid in the obstructed view seating.

    take new movies, I cant afford to take my entire family to see a new movie…BUT!!! when its released on DVD I can rent the blue ray gather the entire family and maybe one of the kids friends, cook a great dinner and play the movie for all to see together,..great memories great times….sad to say but until times get better for this family there wont be any live sporting events

    Comment by artdirectorguy -

  75. What most owners, broadcasters, and very many players have forgotten, you remember. Sports is first, and foremost a drama in which we have a rooting interest.

    As to the cell phone experience. . .if someone thinks watching a movie or event on a cell phone is an experience, then they are inexperienced.

    Jimi Hendrix didn’t play the Star Spangled Banner. He performed it. With full drama and unexpected surprises.

    Comment by hroeder -

  76. Mark, I like the sentiment of your comments but I think it’s much more basic than that – it’s dollars & cents, more than anything.

    I grew up in Wisconsin as a Packers fan and now live in Kansas City, where the Chiefs are a major part of this town’s identity and collective consciousness. They’ve got a $350 million renovated stadium and their first Monday Night Football game in years on Monday…yet the game is not sold out. None of the games are sold out. They’ve got so much gimmicky crap in the new stadium that it’s hard to pay attention to the game; the Chiefs even replaced their Ring of Honor with a frickin’ digital ribbon board that shows ads 80% of the time and flashes the Ring Members occasionally. It’s easy to blame HD TV for people not going but I don’t think that’s it. Given the choice, I think people would brave the cold, the traffic and the inconvenience (versus sitting on the couch) of going to a game because you still can’t beat the experience. Why aren’t people going?

    Maybe it’s because the privilege of parking is $24, the cheapest game ticket is $37 (decent upper level sideline tickets are $83) and if you buy any food/drink, you’re spending at least $10 a person, $20 realistically. So for a family of four, that’s over $200 minimum and almost $500 if you’re not sitting in crappy seats. And I would guess KC is one of the cheapest in the NFL – I don’t even want to guess what the average cost would be in Dallas or Foxboro.

    Another example – a friend of mine has had Patriots season tickets for decades with some friends. Before the new stadium opened, they had great parking/tailgating spots right near the stadium. But then it was built, along with the Patriot Place outdoor mall and their parking spot got moved literally miles away. What fun is it to spend thousands to deal with that?

    If someone wanted season tickets, they’re looking at an investment of thousands of dollars. In an era where people aren’t getting raises/taking pay cuts or have lost their jobs and are maybe finally not trying to live their whole lives on credit, spending that much on sports just isn’t as high a priority. The ticket prices keep going up & up, along with the TV deals and player/coach salaries, while all of us left behind scrimp to find the money to support the team any way we can. And when we look at the cost of season tickets, you could take your family on a fabulous vacation for that same cost.

    I think a lot of people are having that conversation and the vacation or other priority is winning more than it used to. Yes, the HD TV has made it easier to make that decision but I think astronomical prices are just as much to blame.

    Comment by kylerohde -

  77. This is, as usual, genius from a marketing perspective. As a die-hard fan and NBA season ticket holder, it has easy to notice the shift from “game” to “event”. This is a great thing for the expansion of the NBA brand to the casual fan and it seems like more people are enjoying the NBA than ever before.

    I’m definitely in the minority (i.e the less profitable demographic) on this, but my issue with all of the wedding style entertainment is the draining effect it has on the spontaneity and enthusiasm of real fans. When was the last time fans were able to keep a “Lets Go Mavs” chant going throughout a timeout without being drowned out by the JumboTron? As a Celtics fan who grew up with the old Garden, what I remember most was the spontaneous, natural euphoria that brought us all together as fans. If you could cheer all the way through a timeout, the passion and enthusiasm clearly translated to the floor (or so we thought). No one was bored, and no one was looking down. Now any chants not dictated by the jumboton are immediately suppressed by Sean Paul or Flo Rida.

    My favorite, most memorable games in recent years have been the few times that the in-game entertainment shut up and let the crowd take over. If I ever give up my season tickets, it will be because the special, passionate moments that made me love sports in the first place are outnumbered 100-1 by fat idiots flexing for the jumbotron.

    Comment by jryder1985 -

  78. Edit: I do admit though, watching 4 games at once in HD on the Sports Mix channels helps me out a lot.

    Comment by TestShoot -

  79. I don’t watch sports alone. I’ll go to a game alone, the bonding with friends or strangers can’t be replicated. High-five a stranger, the 7th inning stretch, the fat man painted up in the freezing winter at an outdoor stadium. That is why I am a sports fan. Left to TV, I would not care.

    My electronics are only used to maybe catch up on a stat, maybe someone is wobbling around, I want to know is he about to go on or just off the DL. It might give me something to talk about in the huge line to go to the John because nothing is sadder than losing touch with your fellow man.

    Comment by TestShoot -

  80. “It’s my job to give you something other than the game to look up at.”

    And that – not HDTV – is exactly why I no longer attend live sporting events. When I used to attend games it was for the _game_ and NOT for the videos or the screeching announcers or hideously loud “music” which only resulted in driving me OUT of the arena.

    Comment by blukens -

  81. Pingback: The Fan Experience at Sporting Events – Never Look Down « blog maverick « Shannon's Other Blog

  82. Integrate 3-D elements into the fan experience on the jumbotron. Maybe have a little action spot produced for Mavs fans with bits about the players with some sick imagery. Popout the 3-D glasses to present the spots at halftime or commercial timeouts.

    Comment by szolio -

  83. Mark,

    I couldn’t agree more with your sentiments about entertaining the fans and providing and interactive experience while creating memorable moments. However, you can lose site of the fact that smart phones are a part of our life and existence and most likely even if you capture most of the fans attention, a good number will be chatting with their buddies about a play or texting their brother that couldn’t make it to the game. Enabling them to utilize their phone to further enhance their experience is not creating a mechanism to make them look away – it’s allowing them to engage deeper with the team.

    It is the teams job to build a relationship with each and every fan regardless of the mechanism or vehicle used to do so. Creating Memorable Moments is not fully accomplished in a cookie cutter approach where one size fits all. One size or one way of consuming your team is not building a relationship with your fan. Now you may have a preference in how they view and consume your product – if the big screens are doing their job fans will look up. But you will win more with the fans if you provide the options in their hands (as long as eve option is a part of your teams program, creative and experience.

    The one area I think is ridculous, in the hand held entertainment, is creating separate unique devices to provide content. Adding another device to the mix is absurd and should not be the focus. Leagues and teams need to stick with delivering content to fans with devices they already own and carry.

    I have followed your efforts and career since you created Audio Net, I would hate to see, what made you the Maverick you are change due to aspects of technology making it easier not to go to a game. that’s when guys like you (may I be as bold to say us) create new inovative ways to keep them coming back for more regardless of changes to the surroundings.

    Keep blazing the path.

    My best,

    Comment by Lou Imbriano -

  84. C’mon Mark, blame HDTV on lagging ticket sales, but from a fan’s perspective, there is very little value left in attending any professional sports games. From the $75 tickets for “ok” seats, $20 parking, to $7.50 beers and $6 slice of pizza… where is the “value” in taking my son to a game for a bare minimum $200? In short, it’s the economy that is dictating how many seats are filled.

    I used to have season tickets to both the blackhawks and bulls. Gave them up because the prices for seats were becoming unmanagable financially. I haven’t been to a Bulls/Hawks game in 3 years. No way I will pay $50 to seat in the nosebleeds or $200 to sit in the lower level.
    My children, who spent so many years spitting distance from the ice, never ask about going to games now…they know my answer.

    We take in a few White Sox games annually…tickets for good seats are readily available and not costly.

    How many of your season ticket holders are corporate? There was a time when real fans, families had those seats. Now it’s all business. Just like the sport itself.\

    From MC> We have ticket prices that start at $2 for at least 10 games during the year. We have $5 singles for every game. We have 10 dollars seats for every game. We have more than 4k tickets priced under $20 for every game. Im not saying that every team recognizes that they compete with “doing nothing and staying home” , but we do. And so you know, i have always made it a point to sit in the very top row for games to make sure the experience is as good and the T Shirt guns get there as well

    Comment by therugelachman -

  85. Mark,

    The only counter I’d offer to your argument is that I find that extraneous gimmickry and gadgetry incredibly annoying if it’s at such a volume that I can’t ignore it. I might want the downtime to talk about the game with whomever, or just to let things percolate in my head. When the PA announcer, or the person running fan contests starts talking at the level of a jumbo jet engine, I keep looking around for a mute button.

    Comment by jdbar9393 -

  86. it’s like going to a wedding where you are acquaintances with the wedding party… you’re happy for them, but how do you have a GREAT time?

    Comment by firebat620 -

  87. Mark, I just moved back to Dallas after being away for like 9 years. I have been a huge mavs fan since the 1990’s.

    I want to come to games and sit next to ppl who just want to cheer on the mavs even if it means coming by myself sometimes. But if i know that I’ll be welcomed to a certain part of the AA center that’s meant for just “people who love the mavs but don’t have other friends who do”, I’d probably make every game that i could afford!

    So i guess i’m the type of mavs fan who wouldn’t necessarily sit in the “Mavs Blue Zone” section, but definitely is there because i love the mavs.

    p.s. i really wished we kept jeremy lin after the summer D-league

    i’d be happy to share more thoughts if you’re interested in my perspective: twitter @echao2


    From MC> We offer $5 single tickets that get you the best available seat upstairs and $30 singles that get you the best available single seat downstairs, even if its front row. And Mavs fans always welcome our singles with open arms. All you have to do is show up at the box office 30 mins before game time. We also have some available

    Comment by firebat620 -

  88. One key element that drives me NUTS at live sporting events is the replays of controversial plays. EVERY time I am at an NBA/NFL/MLB game and there is a super close play that could have gone either way and the ref/ump called one way.. the stadium NEVER shows the replays to the fans. At home, I get to see 3-5 replays from any/all available angles.. at live games.. no such luck. (I understand wanting to keep fans from becoming unruly and such, but it’s THOSE plays that make me want to look down at a cell phone/hand held to see the replay)

    From MC> We play them. Even if it means the league fines me for doing it

    Comment by robluhrs -

  89. I like the “Never Look Down” approach to fan experiences. It doesn’t preclude mobile devices from being a part of the experience, it just has to fit in with, instead of distract from, what’s going on.

    Two examples:

    1) At a Seahawks game and they pick off the 49ers and run it back and I go to high five the fan next to me and she’s “looking down” tweeting about the play. Bad experience.

    2) At a U2 concert and you text your name to support the One Campaign and you “look up” and your name scrolls across the big scren. Good experience.

    Comment by shanedjones -

  90. by the way, if you want a good investment idea, build a freakin high-end IMAX theatre in Fort Worth somewhere – the drive to Colleyville blows and the downtown Omni theatre rarely shows the good IMAX movies.

    Comment by rcadden -

  91. Excellent post, and I’m not even a sports fan. The same attitude, to me, could be applied to movie theatres.

    I live in South Fort Worth, off Hulen St. – the closest IMAX theatre (that shows newer IMAX movies) is all the way out in Colleyville – a good 30-40 min drive, without traffic. There are no less than 10 movie theatres that I pass on my way to this theatre, and yet over 60% of the movies that I’ve seen this year, I saw there. Why?

    1. The seats are incredibly comfortable – far more comfortable than my couch
    2. I’m convinced that they’re blocking cell signals inside the theatre itself. I know they’re not (cause it’s illegal), but I swear my signal strength goes to pot when I walk in. You know what? So does everyone else’s. That means my movie experience isn’t tainted by someone else, and I appreciate that.
    3. There are real restaurants inside of and nearby the theatre – UNIQUE restaurants, too, not the standard Chili’s and whatever.

    There are other reasons, too, but the point is this theatre stands out because it’s a better experience than watching at home – and I have a 46-inch TV, so I’m not getting a poor experience at home, either. The tickets are also $14. Sure, that’s high, but it also keeps the crowd less… I’ve seen a few movies where the tickets were cheap, and noticed you also get a certain type of crowd – ones that don’t appreciate the movie experience – when they only pay $8 to get in.

    So bravo to being creative and focusing on the experience and not worrying about losing sales without doing something about it.

    Comment by rcadden -

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