How Are Empty Stadiums Affecting Fan Loyalty?
On Sunday thousands of fans will flock to the NRG Stadium to be a part of the Super Bowl. As the lucky spectators watch the action unfold in front of them on newly laid turf and freshly painted lines, dozens of other arenas will remain empty and reminiscing of the days when football fans would be cheering in their stands.
Only 1,500 miles away from the stadium in Atlanta is the Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Despite once hosting the Super Bowl and being the former home to the Chargers, the stadium is currently vacant and depleted of its glory days.
While the fate of the Qualcomm Stadium is still favourable for new development and has plans for a takeover by a university, other stadiums haven't been granted such a luxury. Once the team leaves their hometown it becomes as if they never existed in the first place. In the picture above, you can see how the Pontiac Silverdome (which once hosted a Super Bowl and was home to the Michigan Panthers), is now a site of urban decay.
Sadly, empty stadiums have become a common phenomenon across the US due to the NFL teams that are continuously being relocated after a stadium is built to accommodate their needs. However, instead of leaving the stadium empty like in the case of the Pontiac Silverdome, many cities are adjusting to the probability of a team leaving and making accommodations for it. That is why today's modern stadiums are usually capable of not only hosting the teams practices and home games but also transforming to accommodate concerts and conventions.
While stadiums have adjusted to the fickle nature of NFL teams, fans aren't adapting as easily. In the instance of the Chargers leaving the Qualcomm Stadium, Tommie Vaughn was originally outraged as the news of the move and wanted his city to take drastic measures for the team to stay. Once he realized that the Chargers weren't going to negotiate their move, he accepted it and has since declared that once two of his favourite players leave the Chargers, he'll stop watching. If there are more fans like Vaughn, how much longer can the NFL survive with it's priorities on relocating teams for more profit instead of fan satisfaction?
Coverphoto: Daniel X. O'Neil