Top NFL Honcho Envisions Smaller StadiumsJanuary 27th, 2013
It’s no coincidence that an executive vice president of the NFL is publicly talking about building smaller stadiums that are geared toward driving high-profit beer sales, attracting young fans, spiking demand for tickets and capturing the entire NFL Sunday experience often enjoyed at home.
Eric Grubman, who heads NFL business operations, explained to the L.A. Times that smaller is the future.
The next generation of NFL stadiums could be markedly different than the ones we now know, Grubman said. He envisions smaller and more intimate venues, possibly more like basketball arenas, with standing-room-only clubs at the corners.
“What if a new stadium we built wasn’t 70,000, but it was 40,000 seats with 20,000 standing room?” he said. “But the standing room was in a bar-type environment with three sides of screens, and one side where you see the field. Completely connected. And in those three sides of screens, you not only got every piece of NFL content, including replays, Red Zone [Channel], and analysis, but you got every other piece of news and sports content that you would like to have if you were at home.
“Now you have the game, the bar and social setting, and you have the content. What’s that ticket worth? What’s that environment feel like to a young person? Where do you want to be? Do you want to be in that seat, or do you want to be in that pavilion?”
Whether it’s player safety, business opportunities, or adjustments to the game itself, Grubman said, the key for the NFL is to be vigilant and bold in its thinking.
“When you’re watched and followed by 200 million people,” he said, “little things can become big things, and when you mishandle those little things, they become giant.”
This should reinforce to Bucs fans that lagging attendance and blackouts is a leaguewide problem, not just a Tampa Bay thing. Of course, any fan who watches games in other cities, from Carolina to Oakland and others, sees plenty of empty seats regularly.
It’s significant that a league executive is talking about smaller stadiums, especially at a high-attention time before the Super Bowl.
Across the Tampa Bay region, there’s a lot of fresh talk and news surrounding the Tampa Bay Rays potentially building a new stadium in Tampa. But with 15 years in the can for the Raymond James Stadium, a stadium that’s now out of the Super Bowl rotation and somewhat outdated, Joe thinks it’ll be much sooner rather than later that new-stadium chatter or serious renovation talk is considered for the Bucs’ home turf.