The Effects of Promotions on Attendance in Professional Baseball

By Browning, Robert Aaron; DeBolt, Louisa S. | The Sport Journal, Summer 2007 | Go to article overview
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The Effects of Promotions on Attendance in Professional Baseball

Browning, Robert Aaron, DeBolt, Louisa S., The Sport Journal


Professional baseball organizations use many types of promotions to increase attendance. The purpose of the study was to determine whether or not different types of promotions effected attendance in professional baseball. Promotions were categorized into price, nonprice, and a combination of price and non-price. Attendance and promotion data were collected from four professional baseball organizations located in the Ohio River Area. The results indicated significant increases in attendance in two of the four teams when any promotion was used. Two teams also revealed attendance increases when non-price promotions were present, as well as when combination of price and non-price promotions were employed. Finally, this study supports previous research, which has found higher attendance at games with promotions than games without promotions and when non-price promotions are used rather than price promotions.


Each off-season, professional baseball organizers must organize promotional plans to lure fans back to the ballpark for long seasons (Quinn, 1995). Sales promotions are commonly used by sports marketers due to the managerial control and effectiveness of increasing attendance (Boyd & Krehbiel, 2003). Boyd and Krehbiel (2006) emphasized the importance of attendance and fan interest for all professional sports in the future. Bill Veeck, the inventor of promotions such as Bat Day, believed that each day should be like Mardi Gras in order to enhance each fans' experience at the ballpark (Mullin, Hardy, & Sutton, 2000).

Attendance Research:

Early research studying attendance at athletic events can be placed in four categories: economics, demographics, game attractiveness, and other factors (Hanson & Gauthier, 1989). Through research in different ranks of athletics, including colleges, minor leagues, and major leagues, multiple regressions have been used to observe the effects of attendance by economic factors, such as ticket prices (Kahane & Scmanske, 1997; Noll, 1974), average income (Domazlicky & Kerr, 1990), and population (Domazlicky & Kerr, 1990; Hill, Madura & Zuber, 1982). Other studies have combined demographic, economic, and attractiveness factors (Siegfried & Eisenberg, 1980; Noll, 1974). Until recently, most studies did not examine factors that were controllable by sports marketers. Studies that have scrutinized managerially controllable factors have looked at price and non-price promotions (Wall & Myers, 1989; Hill et al., 1982; Madura, 1981; Siegfried & Eisenberg, 1980) and pre-event marketing (Zhang, Pease, Hui, & Michaud, 1995; Jones, 1984).

The positive effects on attendance associated with the usage of promotions have shown an average of a 14% increase (McDonald & Rascher, 2000). Quinn (2005) discussed the differences among promotional attempts by Major League Baseball (MLB) organizations. For instance, the New York Mets used a 'Baseball for a Buck' campaign, selling tickets for $1 to increase attendance at home games, and the L.A. Dodgers put together an opening weekend promotional extravaganza with over 130 prizes including trips, cars, cap giveaways, and autograph sessions. The greatest attendance increases have recently been attributed to the resurgence of bobble-head dolls (Taylor, 2004). Malcolm Alexander mastered the bobble-head doll after the San Francisco Giants requested the productions of Willie Mays bobble-heads. Alexander's bobble-heads were more durable and actually resembled Mays.

Although promotions have proven to increase attendance in all levels of professional baseball, researchers McDonald & Rascher (2000) believe that baseball organizations can negatively impact the attendance increases of promotions by offering promotions too frequently. A slight "watering down" effect for MLB organizations was discovered when teams schedule numerous promotional events; therefore, McDonald and Rascher (2000) predicted that minor league teams would face a watering-down effect, especially since minor leagues have a higher percentage of games with promotions.

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