4 Tips for Booking Sports Facilities

Ballparks of America

In many parts of the country, government officials are wrestling with decisions about the appropriate times to reopen businesses in their respective states. This dialogue serves as a timely ray of hope for event owners who remain uncertain about the status of their proposed events. Regardless of the time in which businesses, including sports facilities, are allowed to resume operations, as an events rights holder you must be ready. Sports events will be the tip of the spear in terms of our move towards economic recovery. This means there is a tremendous opportunity to serve as a symbol of the return to normalcy for so many people.

If you are introducing a new event into the marketplace or are simply looking for best practices that can enhance the success of your event, we have four tips that will help you reach your goals. These tips will focus on three core elements of successfully booking sports venues: relationship building, service, and collaboration.

Safety as a Component of Great Service

Safety has always been a key component of providing a great experience for participants and guests. Now with concerns over the impact of the Coronavirus, consumers are placing a high value on cleanliness and measures that prevent the spread of the virus. When considering a sports facility, it’s critical to understand what cleaning procedures they are employing and to be a partner with them in terms of safety procedures and communication with guests. Best practices that both sports venues and events owners must consider include deep facility cleaning (perhaps between matches or at different points in the day), restrictions on the number of guests, social distancing seating, plexiglass dividers, and hand sanitizing stations.

Finding the Win-Win

Negotiation has always been a part of booking a sports facility for an event. With so many businesses being hit hard by the economic ramifications of the COVID-19 crisis, negotiation has become standard. It will take all of us to relaunch safe and successful sports events. Part of that is building scenarios that are advantageous for both event owners and facility operators. This starts with understanding the measures of success for the venue, whether it’s increased revenue, economic impact, access to sports, or all the above.  A proper negotiation can proceed from there with the understanding that hosting a successful event will help accomplish everyone’s goals.

One way to find the "win-win" is to enhance ancillary revenue opportunities. To accomplish this, event owners can collaborate with venue operators on the format and scheduling of their events. This will be a must in terms of providing a safe environment, but it may also help facilitate concession sales. Maintaining an optimum time between events can increase the likelihood that guests will stay on premise to buy food and beverages. Too much time between events can make it more likely that guests will leave to pursue other options. It’s also helpful to promote on-premise food options to guests.

Additionally, events rights holders should understand the economic impact that their events may have on the host community and work with the local Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) to help them meet their objectives. A partnership with the local CVB could mean additional promotion for the event or offsetting rental costs. Primarily, CVBs are looking for ways to get more visitors to their region. Your event is a key component in accomplishing this goal.

Be Flexible

Part of seeking win-win scenarios in booking sports facilities is being flexible when organizing your event. This is especially true during this time period. The time in which sports facilities open up may not align with when you traditionally host events. Seasons are likely to be shifted; for example, primary seasons for baseball and softball may be played in the winter or basketball in the summer. As an event owner, you must be willing to work within new timeframes in order to ensure a space for your event.

Beyond event scheduling, flexibility in terms of event format can create greater opportunities to sell ancillary items such as concessions and merchandise, which in a revenue sharing scenario will make your event more attractive to venues.

Bundle Events

If you are capable of doing so, bundling events is highly valuable to facility owners and operators because it guarantees multiple sets of revenue. This is even more enticing if one the events is during a non-peak time period. Bundling events can executed in multiple ways. You can sign a multi-year deal with a venue, package multiple events into the same deal, or bundle events in multiple locations, as is often done with SFM Network venues.

The SFM Network is the nation’s largest group of youth sports facilities and we are dedicated to working with event owners to host and create events in a safe environment that engages and delights both guests and participants. To book your event at an SFM Network facility, visit our booking page or contact us today at 727-474-3845.