There is absolutely nothing certain in this world but death, taxes, and not having cell service at just about every major sporting event. We’ve all been there, sitting on the rows of Commonwealth trying to get a text out to your buddy holding down the fort in #Section206, crawling in the catacombs of Rupp trying to check the scores from around the sports world, or out at Keeneland trying to tweet to the world what horse you have in the tenth race. Then you get the dreaded message send failure. The simple fact is that if you’re in a place with a lot of people and want to get in contact with the world you’re going to have a bad time. But now the SEC is hoping to change that and their goal is to get more butts in the seats around the league.
For years attendance to major sporting events had been on the decline. Tickets are getting more expensive as televisions are getting bigger & cheaper while providing visual clarity better than most people’s eyesight. The stadium experience has to be improved in order to bring the fans back and the SEC is prepared to spend millions in order to do just that. The SEC’s Working Group on Fan Experience came together and suggested that schools around the league need to invest in improved cell service and Wi-Fi at a cost of about 2 million per school. A pretty penny for something that may not have a great return on investment.
Having access to my phone during a game would be great as a member of the generation of fans that Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said “Is used to staying connected”. However not being able to tweet or text hasn’t kept me away from going to a game to this point. As hard as it is, I can survive the two hours disconnected from the real world. So being able to check various social media during the game just doesn’t seem like a big draw. It’s a nice luxury to have but not one that would convince me to attend a game I otherwise wouldn’t.
For me the bottom line on attendance is the product on the field. 50,000 attending the spring game here is a testament to that. If the fans are excited about the direction of the program then they will show up in droves to support their team. If things aren’t going well (see: Kentucky Football 2012) then the stadium is going to be less than halfway full. What are your thoughts? Will you be excited to have access to your phone during games in the near future? Or do you think everyone’s focus should be on the field?