Inside this week's issue of Big League magazine... Credit: Big League Copyright: Big League
IT never ceases to amaze me when I see footy fans out in mid-winter watching their team and they have gone to the effort of taking their – what looks all the world to me – newborn baby to the game. All rugged up and without a clue of what’s going on around them, it reinforces to me that no matter what, there are fans in rugby league who will let nothing get in their way of being there on game-day.
Personally, with two young children myself, the thought of trying to keep them amused for two hours without breaking the bank on hot chips and apple juice puts me in a cold sweat but as they get older I look forward to sharing the experience with them.
I can’t remember how old I was when my parents used to take us three boys to the footy but it was always a family affair, which is why moves this week to slash the entry to the Sea Eagles-Sharks semi-final on Friday night should be commended.
You can buy a junior ticket for just $5 while a family ticket for two adults and two children is $45. There are also free buses for ticket holders from Manly Leagues Club and Cronulla Leagues Club to Allianz Stadium, with Cronulla Leagues Club offering a $10 beer and burger promotion during the afternoon and evening. And there should be more of it.
We’re in an interesting position at present where the presentation of the game on television has never been more widespread and competition for what little leisure dollars the average Australian family has to spend has never been more intense.
Take the wife and kids to the movies for a special treat and see how much change you walk out with from $100. We asked on the Big League Facebook page this week what could be done to entice more people to the games and the comments section exploded, a vast majority highlighting the cost of food and drinks once inside the various stadia.
Here are four ideas I believe could boost attendances and encourage regular patronage:
• Children under the age of 15 free with any adult ticket purchased;
• More family-friendly kick-off times;
• Half-price finals tickets (excluding the Grand Final) for season ticket-holders;
• Interactive games/autograph opportunities for kids at grounds.
I believe if a young fan can leave a game with a poster and a player’s autograph – any player – that’s all they will talk about with their friends at school on Monday.
Plenty of people are doing it tough at the moment and a day at the footy has become a special occasion rather than a weekly event. We need to find compelling reasons for fans to attend or accept that rugby league has become a TV game.