The Effects of Team Loyalty and Selected Stadium Factors

on Spectator Attendance

 

Kirk L. Wakefeld and Hugh J. Sloan

University of Mississippi

 

Having loyal fans and a winning team generally results in higher attendance at games. However, university and professional team administrators are beginning to recognize the importance of marketing the stadium experience as more than just The game. Drawing from data collected from spectators at five Southeastern Conference football stadiums, the effects of team loyalty, stadium parking.

stadium cleanliness, perceived crowding, food service, and fan behavior control on spectators' desire to stay and attend games at

the stadium were investigated. Covariance structural modeling (e.g., LISREL) was employed to test the causal relationships among

the hypothesized relationships. The results support the premise that although team loyalty strongly affects attendance, stadium

design and stadium services also directly influence spectators' desire to stay, and hence, attend games at the stadium.

Why do millions of spectators flock to stadiums to see high school, college, and professional teams play football on any given

autumn weekend in the United States? Is it just to see the two teams play? From the individual spectator's perspective, the economic

impact of this decision transcends the mere purchase of the game ticket and includes complementary expenditures inside (parking,

food, drink, and souvenirs) and outside (meals, transportation, shopping, and perhaps lodging) the stadium. The consumer's decision

to attend a football game, particularly at the major college or professional level, includes a substantial commitment in money and

time. Unlike a comparable expenditure on most tangible products, the purchase of a ticket to see a sporting event includes an

intention to stay in the service facility for an extended period of time. Thus, when spectators attend games, the potential exists for

the stadium environment to play a significant role in determining how much they enjoy the experience.

Conventional wisdom, as well as some economic studies (see Baade & Tiehen, 1990; Domazlicky & Kerr, 1990; Noll, 1974), has

held that if school administrators or professional sport team owners can field a winning team, spectators will attend accordingly.

Melnick (1993), however, has suggested that many spectators may also seek social interaction and entertainment through sports

encounters. Melnick noted that factors such as stadium design, food service quality, and fan interactions may influence how

spectators feel about their experience at the stadium. Along the same lines, Bitner

(1992) implied that the physical surroundings of

the sports encounter strongly influences spectators' perceptions of the experience and their willingness to attend games at the

stadium.

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effects of various stadium factors (crowding, food service quality, fan behavior

control, stadium parking, and stadium cleanliness), which are expected to have a direct effect on spectators' desires to stay at the

stadium and, hence, upon their intentions to return to the stadium. Additionally, we studied the impact of the fans' loyalty to the

team on their desire to stay and attend games. The basic premise of this paper is that although fan loyalty to the team (due to its

performance and history) is an important factor in explaining why spectators attend games, the stadium surroundings play an

important role in determining spectators' attendance tendencies.

The importance of understanding the interaction between these sports facility factors and spectator attendance is underscored

by the recent spate of new stadiums (e.g., Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Texas, and Toronto in Major League Baseball; Atlanta,

St. Louis, and Washington in the National Football League) and stadium renovations (Minnesota Metrodome, Los Angeles

Coliseum, Jacksonville's Gator Bowl, Dodger Stadium). From a practical perspective, this paper seeks to provide empirical support

for stadium planning and management decisions that enhance the spectator's experience and likelihood of future attendance. Funher,

reliable and valid measures of these stadium factors drawn from spectator surveys are presented to enable stadium managers to

assess spectators' perceived quality of stadium features.

Methodologically, this study includes field survey responses from 1,491 college football spectators collected at five

Southeastern Conference football stadiums and employs structural equations modeling (e.g., LISREL Vll, Joreskog & Sorbom,

1990) to analyze the various simultaneous relationships.

First, a brief overview of previous research related to team sports attendance is provided. Then, the model to be tested in this

study is presented, accompanied by a discussion of the nature of the various stadium factors and their hypothesized relationships

with spectator responses (e.g., desire to stay, intentions to attend future games) and spectator team loyalty. Next, the methodology

is explained, followed by the results and discussion. The paper concludes with limitations of this study, suggestions for future

research, and summary remarks.

Empirical Research in Sporting Event Attendance

Prior empirical studies regarding spectators' attendance at sporting events have included psychological, social, and economic

perspectives but have largely overlooked aspects of the sports encounter that would be of practical interest to team sports

administrators who are interested in maximizing stadium capacity. For example, some psychological research has found that

violence in hockey games may or may not increase attendance (see Russell, 1986), but these findings have limited practical

applications, except perhaps for rules committees. Similarly social studies regarding the effect of professional sports on urban

development (e.g., Baade & Dye, 1990) may have some effect on public policy but contain little managerial relevance.

Aggregate economic studies of sports attendance may be of greater practical use to team sports owners and administrators.

Regression models used to predict annual Major League Baseball attendance have shown that various aspects of fielding a

competitive team (i.e. star players, high scoring, team standings, etc.) appear to affect season attendance (Baade & Tiehen, 1990;

Domazlieky & Kerr, 1990; Noll, 1974), thus showing the importance of acquiring and keeping quality players. In other words,

attendance has been found in part to be a function of the relative quality of the product or service (i.e., the team). Interestingly,

these economic studies have also found that although ticket prices do not significantly influence attendance (perhaps due to the fact

that spectators' income levels are high), the age of the stadium does have an effect on season attendance.

Hansen and Gautheir's (1992) survey of sports team marketing managers revealed some facets of team sports marketing that the

managers thought were important objectives or factors in meeting organizational goals. These included concepts tangent to this

research such as the location and setting of games. Up to this point, however, no attempt has been made to study what individual

spectators think are important factors in their decisions to attend games al a particular stadium.

Economic studies, such as the ones previously cited, are limited in that they measure only those variables that can be directly

observed (i.e., team standings, city population, etc.) rather than unobserved spectator perceptions. Further, both economic and

management studies on the subject of attendance typically use multiple regression or ANOVA techniques that do not allow

researchers to infer causality among various factors but only to describe their associations. The intent of the study presented here

was to overcome these methodological weaknesses and to provide an empirical basis for effective sports management decision

making focused on spectator perceptions and needs..

Encountering the Sportscape

In summarizing research originating primarily in the fields of environmental psychology and consumer services marketing, Bitner

(1992) proposed that the "servicescape," or the physical surroundings of service encounters, would lead individuals to either

approach (i.e., stay/explore, spend money, return) or avoid places. Similarly, Figure I illustrates that specific stadium factors will

have a direct effect on spectators' desire to stay, and hence, return to the "sportscape." Spectators who enjoy spending time at the

stadium are expected to be more likely to want to return to spend time at the stadium. Conversely, a negative experience at the

stadium is expected to reduce the desire to stay at the stadium, perhaps leading spectators to leave early and to avoid returning to

similar situations in the future. Thus, the basic hypothesis is:

H1 : Spectators' desire to stay at the stadium will have a positive impact on spectators' intentions to return for future games:

Although not an exhaustive list, the stadium factors featured in the hypothesized sportscape model are expected to be salient

attributes in spectators' evaluation of the Sportscape experience. These factors were selected based partly upon relevant literature as

well as extensive observation.

Stadium Factors

Stadium Parking. The availability, proximity, and "excitability" of stadium parking may enhance or inhibit spectator pleasure with

the stadium experience. Excessive time spent searching for parking or walking to the stadium may add frustration for some

low-tolerance or task-oriented individuals (Bitner, 1992; Snodgrass, Russell, & Ward, 1988). Maister (1985) essentially suggested

that if such spectators enter the stadium disgruntled, it is difficult to change their disposition. Thus, any significant problems a

customer encounters before actually getting to the game may negatively influence his or her overall perception of the sportscape.

Correspondingly, expected and realized difficulty in leaving the game may increase intentions to leave the game early to avoid

long waits in traffic. Dissatisfaction may occur because the spectator may face an undesirable tradeoff between seeing the end of

the game (and having to wait in traffic) or getting out of stadium parking before the majority of the crowd. Research by Bateson and Hui (1992) suggested that when consumers feel as if they have little control in a service encounter, they will not want to stay as long

and will experience less pleasure with the setting. It follows that spectators who perceive that stadium parking forces long waits to

exit the stadium will be more likely to leave early and be less satisfied with the stadium experience. Just finding one's car in stadium

parking areas may prove frustrating (see Anderson, 1991). Thus,

H2: Stadium parking will have a positive impact on spectators' desire to stay at the stadium.

:

Cleanliness. Stadium cleanliness is primarily a function of stadium service levels but may also be influenced by its architectural

design and age. Certain types of floor tiles, for instance, are difficult to clean. Difficult to reach corners or substantial ceiling heights

may hinder thorough cleaning. Older stadiums that have not been properly maintained (or are beyond repair) are often very difficult

to clean due to cracks in surfaces and peeling paint.

Whereas the effects of architecture and age are less controllable aspects that affect the general appearance of the stadium, other

aspects of cleanliness are easier to control by stadium management and may directly influence fans' perceptions. Some stadiums

have limited or nonexistent monitoring of facility cleanliness beyond the pregame preparation by stadium personnel. Restrooms and

concession areas may become overflowing with trash and spilled drinks by the middle and latter pans of the games in many

stadiums. In these situations in which restrooms are covered with trash, refuse, and dampness, spectators are likely to be

discouraged from using the facilities and may become dissatisfied. Other stadiums (see Deckard, 1989) may closely monitor facility

cleanliness encouraging spectators to stay and enjoy the facilities. Thus,

H3: Cleanliness will have a positive impact on spectators' desire to stay at

the stadium.

Crowding. As Melnick (1993) pointed out, the width of the aisles and hallways, the space and arrangements of seats, as well as

the amount of room afforded for concessions and restroom facilities should be conducive to social interaction and should facilitate

enjoyment of the game. In short, these features of interior layout and design (see Brauer, 1992) should be designed with the

spectators' needs in mind. Poorly designed stadiums may have the psychological effect of making spectators feel crowded.

This crowding effect has been conceptualized as a negative affective response (e.g., feelings of being confined, out of control,

restricted) to the perceived density of the physical surroundings and has been found to directly influence consumer's pleasure in

retail settings (Eroglu & Machleit, 1990; Hui & Bateson, 1991). In the sportscape, the design and spatial arrangement of the seats,

aisles, and service areas (as discussed previously) that are available for handling the crowd may directly diminish (or enhance)

evaluations and feelings associated with the sportscape. A spectator who feels uncomfortable because other spectators are too close

(e.g., the spectator next to him or her is taking up two seats on the bench) or who feels hampered in attempting to exit the stands

and gain access to restrooms or concessions (often problematic in latter parts of the game) may not wish to stay in place or return.

Therefore,

H6: Stadium fan control will have a positive impact on spectators' desire to stay at the stadium.

Food Service. From a food service perspective, spectators are virtually held captive in the stadium for approximately three or

more hours before and during the game. That the quality of the food and beverages available during that time can be enjoyable or

deplorable (or somewhere in between) has not been lost on sports fans (see Frost, 1990), sports writers (see kurkjian, 1991 : Wood,

1988) and stadium owners who see it as an important source of revenue ( see Brennan, 1990; Morgenson, 1992).

The quality of food service would appear to be a function of the variety offered and the taste of the food. In some stadiums,

spectators may have expanded choices ranging from typical snacks (popcorn, pretzels, etc.) and fast food fare (hamburgers, hot

dogs, etc.) to Mexican food, barbeque, pizza, ice cream and a variety of beverages. In other stadiums, the choices are essentially

hot dogs, soft drinks and beer. The taste of the food is, of course, related to the quality of the food product but may also be related

to how fresh or warm the food is. Stadiums with good variety and good tasting food are expected to enhance the sports encounter

experience. Not surprisingly, it is anticipated that :

H5 : Food service quality will have a positive impact on spectators' desire to stay at the stadium.

 

Fan Control. Alcohol abuse and its consequences at sporting events started becoming an important social issue in the late

1980s (Leerbsen, 1988; Sullivan, 1986), forcing breweries and their distributors (including stadiums)

to be more socially responsible. Although alcohol may not be sold at some stadiums, it may still be a problem due to prior

consumption or spectators bringing alcohol into the stadium. This may be particularly true for a number

of university football stadiums where the added problem of underage drinking is encountered.

Given the widespread public relations efforts by breweries, their distributors, and other public/private institutions to promote

responsible consumption of alcohol, it is expected that most spectators will expect stadium management to

control spectators who become offensive due to alcohol consumption, as well as for any other reasons. Due to the competitive

nature of sporting events, alcohol is not the only cause for offensive fan behavior. The behavior of the players (see

Bernstein, 1991) and the intensity of the rivalry between teams and their fans may incite some spectators to become offensive or

abusive to other spectators. This behavior may be intensified by the consumption of alcohol. Spectators who are subjected to

offensive behavior, perhaps for what may be the entire game, are not likely to enjoy the experience and may opt to leave

the game early. Stadium management and personnel who carefully monitor fan behavior and move quickly to deal with unpleasant

situations may help prevent such negative experiences for their patrons. Therefore,

H6 : Stadium fan control will have a positive impact on spectators' desire to stay at the stadium.

 

Team Loyalty as a moderating factor

While each of the preceding stadium factors are expected to influence all spectators, some spectators may be more likely to stay

and return to the stadium due to their loyalty to the team. Previous consumer research has shown that individuals who are more

involved with a product or service (Beatty, Kahle, & Homer, 1988 ; Mano Oliver, 1993; Oliver & Bearden, 1983).

Correspondingly, it is expected that spectators who are loyal to the home team are likely to want to spend time at the stadium and

to return, primarily due to their desire to see the team play.

Team loyalty may be derived from socialization (e.g., the influence of family and peers over time), historical team performance, and

effective team/stadium marketing, as well as an enduring involvement (see Beatty, kahle, & Homer, 1988; Richins & Bloch, 1986,

1991). with the sport. In this context, team loyalty is defined as an allegiance or devotion to a particular team that is based on the

spectator's interest in the team that has developed over time. A loyal team fan does not desert the team when its win-loss record is

not competitive. As such, the quality of the stadium sportscape may play a role in determining a loyal fan's attendance intentions,

but the more loyal fan may attend games despite poor stadium quality. Conversely, spectators who have little loyalty to the team

(e.g., friends or family members who may go to the game with a loyal fan) may be largely influenced by the sportscape because

they have little reason otherwise to attend. This discussion leads to the following hypotheses :

H7: Team loyalty will have a positive impact on spectators' desire to stay at the stadium.

H8 : Team loyalty will have a positive impact on spectators' desire to attend future games.

 

Method

Sample and Procedures

In order to gain spectator responses that were based on realistic and timely evaluations of the related stadium factors, field studies

were conducted at five different Southeastern Conference football stadiums at games in the middle of the season. These stadiums

represented teams that included two bowl teams and three weaker teams for the year in which the survey was conducted.

Using a systematic random sampling method, spectators were given surveys at the stadium gates and asked to complete the surveys

before the end of the first quarter of the game, when they would be picked up by stadium attendants Sections dedicated solely to

student seating were generally avoided because pretests indicated that the response rate from students was negligible. Across the

five stadiums, 3,400 surveys were distributed and 1,491 (43.9%) were returned usable for this analysis.

Pretests and Measurement

Because the crowding effect is well established in the consumer research literature, an adapted scale (see Table 1) from Hui and

Bateson (1991) was used to assess spectators' responses to the physical surroundings of the stadium. Purchase intention is also

often investigated in marketing literature, and one item similar to one used by Cronin & Taylor, 1992) was used to measure

spectators' intentions to return for future games.

 

Table I Scale Measurement

Scale/Scale Items Alpha

______________________________________________________________

Desire to stay .77

1. 1 like to stay for the entire game.

2. 1 enjoy spending time at this stadium.

3. 1 like to stay at the stadium as long as possible.

 

Team loyalty .91

1. I am a loyal (home team) fan.

2. I like to let people know that I'm a (home team) fan.

3. Win or lose, I'll always be a (home team) fan.

 

Stadium parking .86

1. This stadium has ample parking.

2. Stadium parking is easy to get out of after the game.

3. Stadium parking is conveniently located.

 

Stadium cleanliness .88

1. This stadium maintains clean restrooms.

2. This stadium maintains clean concession areas.

3. This stadium maintains clean walkways and exits.

 

Fan control .89

1. This stadium makes certain that offensive fans are controlled.

2. This stadium monitors abusive fans.

3. This stadium is concerned about controlling offensive fans.

Food service .90

1. This stadium offers a wide variety of food choices.

2. This stadium offers good tasting food.

3. I like the food offered at this stadium.

 

Crowding (Hui & Bateson, 1991) .83

Respondents were asked to rate how accurately the following

words described the stadium (8-point scale):

confined, stuffy, crowded, cramped, restricted

Attendance intentions (Cronin & Taylor, 1992)

In the future, will your attendance of games at this stadium be

Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Very frequent

 

 

 

(

The remaining scales were developed specifically for this study. Pretests of the scales were conducted at two SEC football

games prior to the survey administration at all five stadiums. Factor analysis and reliability analysis (see Table I for final coefficient

alphas) were performed after each of the two pretests to refine the scales. (Confirmatory factor analysis may be found in the

Results section.) Except where noted, all of the scales employed five-point, agree-disagree Likert scales.

 

Method of Analysis

Because we had to examine the cause and effect relationships of several complex constructs at the same time (e.g., the causal

influence of the ideas of cleanliness and crowding, among others, on an effect such as the intentions reported about choosing to stay

at an event), the covariance structural modeling (CSM) method was chosen for the analysis. CSM methods are being used more

and more frequently to show such complex causal relationships, especially a popular and general version of the CSM method called

linear structural relations (or LISREL) a program initially created and refined over time by Karl Joreskog and Dag Sorbom (1990),

which is used here.

The CSM method may bc thought of as a combination of the familiar factor analysis, which relates underlying latent constructs

to the individual measures comprising them, and structural equation modeling, an (historically econometric) method mainly used to

test statistically the relationships among and between complex ideas (usually depicted graphically as paths between latent variables

that are estimated to have an hypothesized valence and direction). For those readers who may be less familiar with LISREL, an

elementary explanation of LISREL is presented in the Appendix to clarify this powerful analytical technique and the subsequent

interpretation of the results for those who are presently nonusers.

Multivariate techniques, such as LISREL, may be sensitive to data that is not typically distributed. Negatively skewed data is

typical in this type of research (see Forneil, 1992) in which respondents tend to be fairly satisfied with the service they are currently

using. Correspondingly, inspection of the data revealed that some of the items in the desire to stay and team loyalty scales were

skewed toward the high end of the scales. Exponential and square root transformations were used to return these data to more

normal distributions. Subsequent analysis however, indicated that these transformation did not change the fit of the measurement

model nor the significance of any of the causal paths and were therefore not employed in the final analysis

 

Results

 

The confirmatory model (see Table 2) included all of those latent items measuring the independent and dependent constructs. The

confirmatory model produced a - goodness-of-fit index (GFI) of .970, thus indicating an acceptable fit to the data ( see Haire,

Anderson, Tatham & Black, 1992 which recommends a GFI of at least .90 ).

 

Table 2 Factor Loadings (Completely Standardized Solution)

Factor

 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Desire to stay Team Loyalty Parking Cleanliness Fan control Food service Crowding

Stay 1 .665

Stay 2 .832

Stay 3 .594

Loy 1 .918

Loy 2 .817

Loy 3 .897

Park 1 .826

Park 2 .755

Park 3 .853

Clean 1 .720

Clean 2 .817

Clean 3 .803

Clean 4 .908

Fan 1 .864

Fan 2 .849

Fan 3 .884

Food 1 .757

Food 2 .929

Food 3 .926

Confined .708

Stuffy .644

Crowded .492

Cramped .814

Restricted .828

 

least .90). The adjusted goodness-of-fit (AGFI), which accounts for the degrees of freedom of the proposed model, is also

acceptable at .961. Model fit is also often assessed by the chi-square statistic, but it becomes less useful as sample size increases

beyond 200 (Haire et al., 1992). Although also sensitive to sample size, the normal chi-square (chi-square divided by degrees of

freedom), is an alternative measure of model fit. The normed chi-square for this model of 2.29 is acceptable (see Carmines &

McIver, 1981), providing additional support for the model. Finally, the root mean square residual (RMSR), which is the square root

of the mean of the squared residuals, is .058 and is also adequate for models of this type. By providing an acceptable fit to the data,

the confirmatory model provides strong evidence of both discriminant and convergent validity among the seven latent constructs

(see Anderson & Gerbing, 1988).

Table 3 provides the results regarding the hypothesized causal paths. As can be observed, all of the paths (H1-H8) are

significant (p < .01).

 

Table 3 Results: Standardized Coefficients of Model Paths

________________________________________________

Hypothesized path Std Reg Coefficents T value

H1 Stay ~ Attend .25 7.42

H2 Parking ~ Stay .11 3.64

H3 Clean ~ Stay .12 3.70

H4 Crowding ~ Stay -.15 -4.95

H5 Food ~ Stay .10 3.47

H6 Fan control ~ Stay .08 2.66

H7 Team loyalty ~ Stay .35 11.43

H8 Team loyalty ~ Attend .35 11.17

*II values significant at .01 level.

 

The explanatory power of the model is fairly high, with the squared multiple correlation (SMC) indicating that the structure

equations explained 29.5% of the variance of respondents' desire to stay, as well as 25.7% of their attendance intentions. Thus, the

central premise of the study is upheld: Although fan loyalty to the team is an important factor in explaining why spectators attend

games, the stadium surroundings play an Important role in determining spectators' attendance tendencies. Attention now shifts to

more specific discussion of the implications of the results.

 

Discussion

The results of this study provide team and facility administrators with ample support for using the sportscape as a tool to maintain

customer satisfaction and boost attendance. In a time when the costs of fielding a team are escalating, professional and amateur

organizations need to make investments that have a positive effect on the bottom line. Small market teams that are not currently

maximizing their attendance may find that spending more time on the things hey can control (e.g., the stadium facility, marketing

strategy) rather than on those they cannot control (eg., the market size of competitors, competitors' performance, etc.) may

significantly benefit the team and the spectators.

Spectators who enjoy spending time at the stadium were found to be inclined to return to the stadium for future games. While this

may appear obvious, its practical importance should not be overlooked. This relationship suggests to stadium administrators that

every effort should be made to make each sports encounter a positive one to enhance the probability that spectators will be likely to

return. What this really implies is that administrators need to consider the customers' viewpoints when making any decisions

regarding stadium operations. Although the implementation of some management decisions may have less pronounced effects than

those studied in this paper, their impact on spectators' desires to stay and enjoy the game should be evaluated. For instance having

personnel available to wipe off stadium seats on rainy days may make watching the game more enjoyable. Relatively minor issues

such as this may, in sum, play a large part in the spectators' feelings of pleasure and enjoyment of the game. To deal with the

specifics of what stadium administrators can do to meet the major spectator needs, the managerial implications of the remaining

findings are discussed in turn.

Problems related to space and location of stadium parking may be relatively difficult to remedy in the short run, but some

alternatives are available for stadium administrators aside from building or purchasing additional parking. First, arranging for mass

transportation (shuttles) from more distant parking may ease some of the stress of overcrowded parking areas. Spectators who

know they do not have to battle the mass exit at the end of the game because they are being transported beyond the fray may feel

more relaxed (and safe) and be less prone to leave before the game is over. Second, employing traffic personnel to direct spectators

in and out of parking before and after the game may help spectators feel less out of control in such situations. Because parking does

lead spectators to spend more/less time at the stadium (and hence, attend/avoid future games), stadium administrators who do not

control stadium parking (either through ownership or contractual agreements) may want to make efforts to do so.

 

Cleanliness has been found to be an important consideration in other retail patronage decisions (see Kerin, Jain, & Howard,

1992). While some might argue that spectators may not expect stadiums to be as clean as other public places (perhaps due to past

experiences), stadium administrators can increase the pleasantness of spectators' stay by exceeding expectations. As is the practice

in many department stores and restaurants, personnel can be held responsible for maintaining restroom, concession, and walkway

cleanliness throughout the hours of operation. Cleanliness may be particularly important for spectators with young children, who do

not appreciate subjecting their children to unclean restrooms and concession areas. Another implication of this finding is that older

facilities may need to be renovated or replaced if they can no longer be maintained (e.g. due to crumbling facades, peeling paint and

tiles, etc.).

When compared to the other stadium factors in Table 3, perceived crowding is shown to have the strongest effect on

spectators' desires to stay or leave the stadium. Crowding is not merely the effect of having a large crowd at the game (which may

possibly even have some positive effects on some spectators). Rather, the concern relates more to those features of inferior layout

and design that either facilitate or hinder freedom of movement by spectators. Insufficient individual seating space due to small

seats and/or limited elbow or knee room may make spectators feel cramped and uncomfortable. Stadiums have often been designed

to fit as many people as possible, perhaps without concern for the effects this may have on some spectators. In stadiums that are not

already selling close to capacity, providing more seats with ample space (e.g., fewer bench seats, more chair seats with adequate

knee room) may improve spectators' willingness to attend games there. Long, narrow rows of seats may tend to discourage fans

from exiting their seats to get to service areas because they have to step on toes to do so. Reconfiguring seating arrangements that

provide more aisles and less difficulty in exiting may help reduce the crowding effect.

Inadequate space in walkways and service areas may cause spectators to wait inordinate amounts of time to use the restrooms or

obtain food service; while, in the meantime, they miss seeing the live game. Television monitors

in the service areas may help alleviate the problem of missing the game, but they do not reduce the tension associated with waiting

in line or having personal space invaded. Solutions to these crowding problems are likely to require significant renovations or may

highlight the need for a new facility.

The implications from the finding that food service quality affects spectators' desire to stay at the stadium are straightforward.

While hot dogs and beer (or soft drinks) may always be staples at the stadium, spectators have become more sophisticated in their

tastes and desire a wider variety and quality of food at the ballpark. Many stadiums have contracted with established local

restaurants and franchises to provide better food and more choices. In keeping with current societal concerns, stadium food service

might offer some healthier food alternatives and no alcohol beers.

Another concern, apart from the issue of food quality and more related to food value, is the issue of food prices. One additional

question was asked in the spectator survey regarding the extent to which spectators agreed that stadium food prices were

reasonable. As might be expected, spectators were significantly p<.001) less likely to agree that stadium food prices were reasonable than they were to agree that they liked the stadium food. For price sensitive spectators, inflated food service prices might encourage them to either bring their own food and drink to the stadium or eat outside of the stadium (before or after the game). If stadium food service managers are dissatisfied with their current sales volume, they may adopt pricing objectives that result in at least some food prices that are more competitive with outside alternatives (e.g., restaurants offering shnilar fare). The relationship between fan control and spectators' desire to stay at the stadium is the weakest among the stadium factors. This may be true because spectators are primarily concerned about fan control when they have been (or are) confronted with abusive or offensive fans. Some spectators may not have had (m)any negative experiences with other fans, or they may be sitting in reserved seats where the clientele is generally under control. However, for those spectators who have been subjected to fights, abusive language, and the like, fan control is likely to play a significant role in their decisions to remain at the stadium. Poor fan control in the bleachers may discourage spectators from buying general admission seats; thus, stadium capacily may be underutilized. Finally, as expected, team loyalty plays the biggest role in determining spectators' desire to be at the stadium. The marketing management implications of this relationship are tremendous. Superior team performance (which is difficult and expensive to control) clearly reinforces one's loyalty to the team, but sports organizations may take several other avenues to build team loyalty. First, promotions that develop and reinforce spectators' involvement and interest in the sport and its teams may result in greater individual team loyalty. The NBA has done an excellent job of building allegiance to the league, its teams, and individual players through effective promotion geared toward showing how exciting NBA basketball is and using celebrity endorsements to reinforce social acceptance (e,g., "The NBA is Fantastic!'' and "I love this game!" campaigns). Major League Baseball, which, had been losing spectator interest (andattendance until 1993) among younger Americans over the past decade, is now starting to recognize the need to develop specific involvement with its teams and players and has developed a promotional campaign to accomplish the task (Coldman, 1992; MeCarthy, 1993). Similar efforts may be made on the local or regional level for other sports leagues.  A second approach to enhancing team loyalty may be to make team members more accessible to spectators through public service, promotional appearances, and other planned publicity. Spectators are more likely to feel loyal to someone they feel they know personally, rather than to secluded players who are unwilling to participate in community activities. Thus, any promotional activities that provide opportunities for spectators to meet players and to get to know more about them will likely improve team loyalty. This may also imply that obtaining players who are publicly known to have negative attitudes or prior negative publicity may do little lo improve spectators' loyalty to the team. A third approach to developing team loyalty is to target younger spectators or families with discounted tickets to encourage trial and repeat purchases. For some prospective loyal fans, they may need to experience the excitement at the ballpark before they develop much commitment toward the team. Group ticket rates for children and youth organizations may introduce the sport, the team, and the game experience to individuals that might not otherwise become interested Limitations and Future Research One significant limitation of this research is that it is confined to major college football stadiums. Although the implications from this research might very well apply to professional football, other amateur football leagues, and other team sports, this is not known with certainty. For instance, perceived crowding may be much less of an issue in smaller stadiums representing smaller institutions. Future research in different sports settings would help extend the generalizability of this study. An issue of some debate in the services quality and satisfaction literature relates to whether or not it is useful to measure consumers' expectations of service levels as well as their current perceptions of service quality (see Cronin & Taylor, 1992; Parasuraman, Berry, & Zeithaml, 1988,1991, 1993). The resulting difference between expectations and actual performance is considered to then lead to satisfaction or dissatisfaction. We did not measure what people expected from the stadium services because it may be argued that evaluating an aspect of the stadium is inherently comparing it to expectations, thus researchers may only want to measure current quality perceptions (see Cronin & Taylor, 1992). It also makes for a much shorter survey, which was considered important in administering a field survey in which people may be unwilling to spend much time filling out questionnaires. However, because spectators' expectations may vary widely due to the extent of their exposure to other stadiums, future research might investigate the comparative effect of expectations and actual evaluations of the sports facility. A limitation of conducting a field study such as this one is that perceptions of potential spectators who chose not to attend the game do not have a chance to respond. Attendees' versus nonattendees' perceptions regarding the sportscape may differ significantly. If stadium management wanted to know why people avoid going to the game, research would have to be designed to obtain responses from those who had previously attended games but had chosen not to return or to return less frequently. Future research regarding the precise physical aspects of the stadium that cause spectators to feel crowded, as discussed above, could be meaningful for making stadium design and renovation decisions. It would be useful to know which features of the layout and design of the stadium have the greatest impact on perceived crowding, such as seating arrangements, walkways, exits, concession areas, or restroom areas. Investments to design or change these features to meet customer preferences could then be prioritized based upon such research. Another important avenue of research could be to determine if different segments of spectators respond differently to the sportscape. To what extent does gender, age, income, education, or occupation influence individual perceptions and attendance intentions? In addition to examining differences based on demographics, research might also seek to uncover the extent to which staying or attending sporting events is influenced by the situation (i.e., competitive level of teams playing, weather, presence of friends/family, need for variety, etc.). Conclusion The emphasis of having a customer-orientation in the field of team sports administration is still relatively new, and particularly new in the field of facility is important in marketing planning and administration and should be actively managed to meet the needs of its users (Bitner, 1992; Brauer, 1992). The findings of this research make it clear that attendance at major college football games is not just a function of team performance or team loyalty but of the entire experience spectators have at the stadium. Administrators who heretofore viewed stadium management as primarily a janitorial obligation should recognize that effective stadium design and management can potentially result in greater utilization of facility capacity and subsequent additions to the financial bottom line.