To understand the broader industry trends within the In-person Sporting Event Experience market, purchase our complete market research report that features over 60 pages of statistics, market intelligence, and expert recommendations to help you interpret future consumer behaviors and anticipate what’s next in the market.

In-person Sporting Event Experience: Current Market Landscape

More than half of adults attend sporting events, solidifying the value that fans place on the live, in-person experience. Football, basketball and baseball have the largest fan bases and attract the most attendees. Except for the NFL, pro sports leagues rely heavily on ticket sales revenue, making in-person attendance more important for most other leagues and teams. There are opportunities to grow enthusiasm for attending soccer, esports and NASCAR events, particularly among young adults, through theme nights, increased opportunities for socializing and performance-based promotions.

Market Trends and Consumer Behavior at In-person Sporting Events

  • Market growth: Football stands out as the top sport attended, encompassing nearly a quarter of adult sports fans. Baseball and basketball follow behind. Attendance is highest among Millennials with the exception of basketball (Gen Z) and baseball (Gen X).
  • Industry trends: Approximately two thirds of attendees want a bundled ticket offering, would pay slightly higher ticket prices if it meant lower concessions prices and are interested in having smaller portions of concessions for cheaper prices.
  • Market research: 78% of attendees would be interested in more-affordable premium seating options. Male Millennials are most interested in purchasing an in-game seat upgrade using a ticket app (86%) and female Millennials are most interested in bar-style rail seating to socialize (75%).

In-person Sporting Event Experience Market Trends and Opportunities

  • Technology: enhancing fan experiences
    AR efforts by the Twins, Rams and FIFA are notable as they are among the first uses of the technology to enhance engagement of fans attending games and at home. Efforts must be made to educate sports fans on how to easily use AR smartphone apps. User experiences must be continually updated and improved over time.
  • Identity and Surroundings
    Sustainability efforts such as the Climate Pledge Arena speak to consumers who feel connected to their external environment. Sports fans embrace brands and experiences that aim to reduce waste, protect the environment or attempt to improve living conditions. Opportunities exist to engage Gen Z and Millennial consumers through their fondness of companies and brands that leave less of a negative environmental impact on the world.
  • Experiences
    Sporting venues have an opportunity to generate additional revenue by offering affordable and accessible premium seating options to Millennial sports fans. Providing a unique on-site experience that offers the ability to socialize could help draw their attention to live events. 83% of Millennial sporting event attendees and 82% of Gen X attendees would be interested in premium/ club seating if it was more affordable.

Read on to discover more about the In-person Sporting Event Experience consumer market, read our US Women’s Sports: Spotlight on Fans Report 2022, or take a look at our other Leisure Time research reports.

Quickly Understand

  • Who attends sporting events and what motivates fans to show up.
  • Strategies to attract attendees and opportunities to expand interest.
  • What factors are having an impact on fans and the live sporting event experience.
  • Promotions and activities of interest at sporting events.
  • Opportunities for increasing fan engagement via technology and smartphones.
  • Attendees’ attitudes toward sporting event value, access and technology use.

Covered in this Sporting Events Market Report

Leading Brands in the US In-person Sporting Event Experience Market: BatterUp, Blockbuster, Fishing Frenzy, ARound, Amazon One.

Expert Analysis from a Specialist in the Field

This report, written by John Lisec, a leading analyst in the Sports and Leisure sector, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis of sports event marketing to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Live sporting events play an important role in developing and cultivating fan interest. Excitement, value and fan engagement are core elements of live sports. Through enhanced technologies like AR and by accommodating diverse fan interests as well as emphasis on flexibility, accessibility and memorable experiences, providers can achieve continued long-term growth.
John Lisec - Research Analyst, Sports and Leisure
John Lisec
Sports & Leisure Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • This Report looks at the following areas
        • Definition
          • Market context
          • Executive Summary

              • Top takeaways
                • Overview of in-person sporting events
                  • Figure 1: Personal consumption expenditures – Admissions to spectator sports, 2002-22
                  • Figure 2: Sports followed and sporting events attended in past 12 months, 2022
                  • Figure 3: Outlook for in-person sporting events, 2023-28
                • Opportunities
                  • Engage Gen Zs and Millennials through sustainable, carbon-neutral sports facilities
                    • Figure 4: Forbes SportsMoney Twitter post – Seattle Kraken’s Climate Pledge Arena, 2022
                  • AR and the next wave of in-person sporting event engagements
                    • Figure 5: Forbes/PetaPixel Twitter posts – AR live sports apps, 2022
                  • Expanded legalized sports betting sparks retail sports betting growth potential
                    • Figure 6: Sports Business Journal Twitter post – TPC Scottsdale DraftKings Sportsbook, 2022
                  • Challenges
                    • Rising inflation and increased costs price some fans out of attending sporting events
                      • Figure 7: Inflation’s impact on leisure and entertainment in past six months, by gender and age, 2022
                    • Push for price transparency to impact ticket outlets, secondary ticket markets
                      • Key consumer insights
                      • The Market

                        • Ticket sales revenue remains key to US sports industry
                          • Spending on spectator sports spikes post-pandemic
                            • Figure 8: Personal consumption expenditures – Admissions to spectator sports, Q1 2002-Q3 2022
                          • Sporting event attendance bounces back to prepandemic incidence
                            • Figure 9: Sporting event attendance in the past 12 months, by age, 2016-22
                        • Target Audience: Sporting Event Attendees

                          • Sporting event attendees skew male, middle-aged, economically healthy
                            • Demographics of sporting event attendees generally reflect those of sports fans
                              • Figure 10: Profile of sporting event attendees, indexed to all consumers, 2022
                          • Factors Impacting In-person Sporting Events

                            • Rising costs price some fans out of attending sporting events
                              • Figure 11: Inflation’s impact on leisure and entertainment in past six months, by gender and age, 2022
                            • Push for ticket fee transparency
                              • Legalized sports betting expansion continues
                                • Biometrics and the future of security/operational efficiency
                                • Competitive Strategies and Market Opportunities

                                  • Mintel Trend Drivers
                                    • Technology: enhancing fan experiences
                                      • AR and the next generation of in-person sporting event experiences
                                          • Figure 12: Forbes/PetaPixel Twitter posts – AR live sports apps, 2022
                                        • Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” stores bring convenience and efficiency to stadiums/arenas
                                          • Figure 13: GeekWire Twitter post – Amazon Just Walk Out stores at Lumen Field
                                        • Identity and Surroundings: targeted strategies to meet the needs of ever-evolving fan bases
                                          • Sustainability and carbon neutral arenas: putting fan/organizational priorities into action
                                            • Figure 14: Forbes SportsMoney Twitter post – Seattle Kraken’s Climate Pledge Arena, 2022
                                            • Figure 15: Amazon, NHL Seattle Announce Climate Pledge Arena | Seattle Kraken, Arena promo, 2022
                                          • Autism Awareness Night: a sensory-inclusive live sporting event
                                            • Figure 16: Rochester Americans Twitter post – Autism Awareness Night, 2022
                                          • Deaf Awareness Night: a memorable night at the ballpark with an important purpose
                                            • Figure 17: Front Office Sports Twitter post – Myrtle Beach Pelicans Deaf Awareness Night, 2021
                                          • Pride Knight: creating an impactful experience for the LGBTQ+ community
                                            • Figure 18: Front Office Sports Twitter post – Vegas Golden Knights “Pride Knight,” 2022
                                          • Experiences: reimagining live sporting events
                                            • Work from the Ballpark Day: recognizing societal shifts and offering new options
                                              • Figure 19: Seattle Mariners Twitter post – Work from the Ballpark Day, 2022
                                            • A Night of Their Own: behind-the-scenes experience for eager female baseball fans
                                              • Figure 20: Cincinnati Reds Twitter post – A Night of Their Own, 2019
                                            • Modern luxury seating experiences: opportunity for affordable variety
                                              • Retail betting at sports venues: bringing fans closer to the action
                                                  • Figure 21: Sports Business Journal Twitter post – TPC Scottsdale DraftKings Sportsbook, 2022
                                              • The Sporting Event Attendee – Fast Facts

                                                • Sporting event attendees skew male, Millennial and parents
                                                  • Fans attend with family members, to socialize with other fans
                                                    • Attendees interested in variety of promotions, discounted ticket price leads
                                                      • Access, exclusive experiences are key to attract sporting event attendees
                                                        • Untapped potential to enhance experiences through smartphones
                                                          • Fans want cheaper concessions, ridesharing, sports betting, faster security checkpoints
                                                            • Flexibility, affordability key for luxury seating, upgrades, socializing areas
                                                            • Exploring Sporting Event Attendees

                                                              • Emphasis on relationships, socialization opportunities are key
                                                                • Attendance is driven by fandom and the opportunity to socialize eg attending with family members, date night, spending time with friends
                                                                  • Figure 22: Sporting event attendees, by key demographics, 2022
                                                                • Narrow the gap between following sports and attending sporting events
                                                                  • Sports marketers have an opportunity to attract a wider audience by focusing on casual fans
                                                                    • Figure 23: Sporting events attended in past 12 months, 2022
                                                                  • Esports fans most likely to attend in-person; football, basketball fans most likely to watch on TV
                                                                    • Take inspiration from esports to expand interactive fan fests
                                                                      • Figure 24: Sports followed and followers who attended an event in past 12 months, 2022
                                                                    • Generational differences shape sporting event attendance patterns
                                                                      • Utilize tailored strategies to engage aging Millennial sporting event attendees
                                                                        • Figure 25: Sporting events attended in past 12 months, by generation, 2022
                                                                    • Reasons for Attending Sporting Events

                                                                      • Prioritize relationships, socializing opportunities
                                                                        • Establish theme nights that emphasize relationships and interacting with other fans
                                                                          • Figure 26: Reasons for attending sporting events, 2022
                                                                        • “Family first” for female attendees, especially those aged 55+
                                                                          • Figure 27: Reasons for attending sporting events, by gender and age, 2022
                                                                        • Atmosphere, community bring soccer fans to the pitch; baseball fans come for the game
                                                                          • Figure 28: Reasons for attending sporting events, by top sports attended, 2022
                                                                        • Demonstrate value of attendance to justify cost and prioritize fan safety
                                                                          • Figure 29: Reasons for not attending sporting events, by sports fans and non-sports fans, 2022
                                                                      • Sporting Event Promotions and Experiences

                                                                        • Offer a variety of promotions, emphasize sports entertainment value
                                                                          • Create memorable entertainment experiences through perks such as a concert, merchandise, fireworks or theme night
                                                                            • Figure 30: Favorite sporting event promotions – Rank, 2022
                                                                          • Market memorable experiences to Millennial sports fans
                                                                            • Millennial sports fans are more interested in enhancements to the overall experience while older fans are looking for price discounts
                                                                              • Figure 31: Favorite sporting event promotions, by generation – Rank, 2022
                                                                            • Sporting event attendees have diverse tastes, enjoy wide range of benefits
                                                                              • Sports fans seek fun and enjoyment but also value making a difference
                                                                                • Figure 32: Most valued aspects of sporting events – Rank, 2022
                                                                              • Areas to socialize, performance-based promotions attract Millennial women
                                                                                • Emphasize socializing opportunities and open spaces designed to encourage interaction
                                                                                  • Figure 33: Most valued aspects of sporting events – Any rank, by generation and gender, 2022
                                                                              • Activities of Interest at Sporting Events

                                                                                • Emphasize access, exclusivity to grab attention of sports fans
                                                                                  • Provide sporting event attendees with more “bang for their buck”
                                                                                    • Figure 34: Minnesota Twins Twitter post – Carlos Correa exclusive DigiSign, 2023
                                                                                    • Figure 35: Activities of interest at sporting events, 2022
                                                                                  • Leverage cultural celebrations, sporting traditions to attract Hispanics
                                                                                    • Sporting event experiences will be taken to the next level by embracing the passion and joy that exists around Hispanic sports culture
                                                                                      • Figure 36: Activities of interest at sporting events – Any rank, by Hispanic origin and gender, 2022
                                                                                    • Increase socializing opportunities at sports Pride Night events
                                                                                      • Create social environments at games through pregame happy hour and post-game concert
                                                                                        • Figure 37: Activities of interest at sporting events – Any rank, by LGBTQ+, 2022
                                                                                    • Smartphone Use at Sporting Events

                                                                                      • Enhance sporting event experiences through smartphone apps, features
                                                                                        • Expand smartphone app functionality to be a “one-stop-shop” for the ultimate sporting event experience
                                                                                          • Figure 38: Smartphone use at sporting events, 2022
                                                                                        • Ensure concessions appeal to Gen Z women, offer smartphone-capable ordering
                                                                                          • Increase availability of shareable and unique concessions options that attract young female sports fans and that can be ordered via a smartphone sporting event app
                                                                                            • Figure 39: Smartphone use at sporting events – Ordering concessions, by gender and age, 2022
                                                                                          • Integrate sporting event smartphone apps with active video gamers in mind
                                                                                            • AR technology continues to improve and is ready to expand throughout sporting event experiences
                                                                                              • Figure 40: Smartphone use at sporting events, by video gamer segments, 2022
                                                                                          • Attitudes toward Concessions at Sporting Events

                                                                                            • Fans want bundling, smaller portions, cheaper concessions
                                                                                              • Give fans a break from rising ticket costs by offering concessions at different sizes/price points
                                                                                                • Figure 41: Attitudes toward attending sporting events – Concessions deals, 2022
                                                                                              • Prioritize affordable concessions, bundle deals for parents with children
                                                                                                • Integrate restaurant sponsors in bundled family ticket deals
                                                                                                  • Figure 42: Attitudes toward attending sporting events – Concessions deals – Any agree, by parental status and number of children, 2022
                                                                                              • Attitudes toward Sporting Events Access

                                                                                                • Modernize venues for ridesharing, sports betting, efficient security checks
                                                                                                  • Update key features in sports venues to meet the needs of today’s modern fan
                                                                                                    • Figure 43: Attitudes toward attending sporting events – Access, 2022
                                                                                                  • Provide a tailgate lot designed for rideshare sporting event attendees
                                                                                                    • Partner with rideshare company to deliver an all-inclusive tailgating experience
                                                                                                      • Figure 44: Attitudes toward attending sporting events – Access – Any agree, by household income, 2022
                                                                                                  • Attitudes toward Extras at Sporting Events

                                                                                                    • Expand smartphone apps to allow game-used items to be purchased in real time
                                                                                                      • Concerts and high-quality fan giveaways are also sought to enhance game day experiences
                                                                                                        • Figure 45: Attitudes toward attending sporting events – Extras, 2022
                                                                                                      • Engage Millennial attendees through lifestyle-product experiences
                                                                                                        • Provide halftime/post-game concerts to attract Millennials and offer high-quality fan giveaways
                                                                                                          • Figure 46: Attitudes toward sporting events – Extras – Any agree, by generation, 2022
                                                                                                      • Attitudes toward Seating at Sporting Events

                                                                                                        • Create affordable luxury seating, upgradeable locations, socializing areas
                                                                                                          • Shift luxury seating strategy, smartphone app functionality and provide open-seating structures to offer more flexibility in upgraded seating
                                                                                                            • Figure 47: Attitudes toward sporting events – Seating, 2022
                                                                                                          • Provide dynamically priced, à la carte luxury seating options
                                                                                                            • Create flexible, social and affordable luxury seating options to target young sports fans
                                                                                                              • Figure 48: Attitudes toward sporting events – Seating – Any agree, by Millennials and gender, 2022
                                                                                                          • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                                            • Data sources
                                                                                                              • Consumer survey data
                                                                                                                • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                                                  • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                  • Appendix – The Market

                                                                                                                      • Figure 49: CPI changes from previous year, 2020-22

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