This guest post is from Joe Denton, staff member at SCA Promotions.

Major League Baseball is home to some of the most-watched sporting events, bringing more than 70 million fans to games each year. But it’s more than just the games that draw so many fans into the stands. The live experience — from the smell of hot dogs to the sound of a roaring crowd — is something that you just can’t get from watching at home. It’s something that many fans missed during the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused a nationwide pause on live sports events.

As normal events return, attendees will be drawn in by the novelty of something they’ve missed. If you want to pack the stands at your sporting events, you need to understand what fans are looking for, and what keeps them coming back all season. Here are the top five reasons people attend sporting events and how you can leverage them to give attendees a winning experience.

1.  Socializing and networking

Sporting events can bring you closer to others, whether that’s the friends you brought along or the people seated next to you. Maybe it’s rooting for (or against) the same team that starts the conversation — or the simple joy of having a beer with a stranger. Whatever the reason, almost every sports fan has a story or two about mid-game encounters with interesting folks.

Sporting events are also a great place to host corporate networking events. The most accessible sporting events for your company may be for smaller, local teams, but sports events of all sizes offer the opportunity to eat, drink, and relax. Consider a live sport event as an alternative to the standard company party or happy hour, or as entertainment after a long day at a conference.

Want to encourage your attendees to mix, mingle, and network? It could be as simple as arranging a pre-event happy hour or prompting your guests to introduce themselves to the person next to them.

2. Halftime shows

Who doesn’t enjoy a good halftime show? A quality halftime show engages the crowd and keeps them happy while the teams are resting up and talking strategy before the second half. For some fans, the possibility of a great halftime performance is a bigger draw than the live sports event itself.

Think about the best halftime show you’ve ever seen. What made it so great? Channeling that spark can help you create special memories for your attendees, and it may even be the thing they’ll be talking about for years to come.

3. Promotions and giveaways

Consider incorporating contests into your events to engage attendees. You could offer a chance to win a locker room visit, a meet and greet with the team, or a free VIP package to a future game. You could even hold a ticket giveaway on your social channels to generate excitement and boost your social presence at the same time. The biggest sporting events offer lucky attendees a chance to walk away with some cool swag — or even a new car. Or, they may get the opportunity to walk onto the field or court and bask in the adoration of the crowd during a basket contest or trivia challenge.

Merch is another great opportunity to engage sponsors and boost brand recognition. Whether it’s free or on sale, merch is a big part of branding your event. Each time someone wears the t-shirt or hat they got at your event, it’s another opportunity for free advertising for you and your sponsors.

4. Team spirit

People are competitive by nature — especially sports fans. When you put fans from opposing teams in the same stadium, there’s bound to be some smack talk, and, of course, team camaraderie. Diehard fans live and breathe this kind of environment because it’s the perfect chance for them to show some team pride, painted faces and all.

Think about ways you can encourage team spirit among your event attendees. Encourage fans to post on social media using a hashtag you create, whether they’re in the stands or watching from home. Consider adding group activities and challenges for fans who want to show their team spirit.

Social media isn’t just great for engagement during sporting events. It’s also a great tool to help you sell more tickets by using paid ads and organic posts about your event and encouraging attendees to share them.

5. Making an impression

Whether you’re going on a date or wooing a potential client, you can always take them out to the ballgame. Sporting events are a great way to show someone a good time with food, beverages, and entertainment all in one place.

To show potential attendees that your event will be unique, make sure it’s alluring. Brand your event carefully to make attendees feel like they’ll be a part of a one-of-a-kind experience, and make it shareable so they invite others along. Offer a range of packages, from basic tickets to an exclusive VIP option.

Ready for more tips on creating an amazing attendee experience? Check out our marketing tools for events.

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