The effects of team loyalty and selected stadium factors on spectator attendance

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Journal of Sport Management. 1995.9. 153-172 © 1995 Human Kinetics Publishers. Inc.

The Effects of Team Loyalty and Selected Stadium Factors on Spectator Attendance
Kirk L. Wakefield and Hugh J. Sloan University of Mississippi
Having loyal fans and a winning team generally results in higher attendance at games. However, university and professional team administrators are beginning torecognize the importance of marketing the stadium experience as more than just the game. Drawing from data collected from spectators at five Southeastern Conference football .stadiums, the effects of team loyalty, .stadium parking, stadium cleanliness, perceived crowding, food service, and fan behavior control on spectators' desire to stay and attend games at the stadium were investigated. Covahancestructural modeling (e.g., LISREL) was employed to test the causal relationships among the hypothesized relationships. The results support the premise that although team loyalty .strongly affects attendance, .stadium de.sign and stadium .services also directly influence spectators' desire to stay, and hence, attend games at the stadium. Why do millions of spectators fiock to stadiums to see highschool,

college, and professional teams play football on any given autumn weekend in the United States? Is it just to see the two teams play? From the individual sp)ectator's perspective, the economic impact of this decision transcends the mere purchase of the game ticket and includes complementary exp>enditures inside (parking, food, drink, and souvenirs) and outside (meals, transportation,shopping, and perhaps lodging) the stadium. The consumer's decision to attend a football game, particularly at the major college or professional level, includes a substantial commitment in money and time. Unlike a comparable expenditure on most tangible products, the purchase of a ticket to see a sporting event includes an intention to stay in the service facility for an extended period of time.Thus, when spectators attend games, the p>otential exists for the stadium environment to play a significant role in determining how much they enjoy the experience. Conventional wisdom, as well as some economic studies (see Baade & Tiehen, 1990; Domazlicky & Kerr, 1990; NoU, 1974), has held that if school
Kirk L. Wakefield and Hugh J. Sloan are with the Department of Management and Marketing,University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677. 153


Wakejield and Shxm

administrators or professional sport team owners can field a witming team, spectators will attend accordingly. Melnick (1993), however, has suggested that many spectators may also seek social interaction and entertainment through sports encounters. Melnick noted that factors such as stadium design, food servicequality, and fan interactions may influence how spectators feel about their exf)erience at the stadium. Along the same lines, Bimer (1992) implied that the physical surroundings of the sports encounter strongly influences spectators' perceptions of the experience and their willingness to attend games at the stadium. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effects of various stadium factors(crowding, food service quality, fan behavior control, stadium parking, and stadium cleanliness), which are expected to have a direct effect on spectators' desires to stay at the stadium and, hence, upon their intentions to return to the stadium. Additionally, we studied the impact of the fans' loyalty to the team on their desire to stay and attend games. The basic premise of this paper is thatalthough fan loyalty to the team (due to its performance and history) is an important factor in explaining why spectators attend games, the stadium surroundings play an important role in determining spectators' attendance tendencies. The importance of understanding the interaction between these sports facility factors and spectator attendance is underscored by the recent spate of new stadiums (e.g.,...