COLUMN: Bates’ Economic Problem
Creating The Ultimate Gameday Experience
Published: Thursday, September 12, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 12, 2013 02:09
The hottest on-campus buzzword, especially from the desk of Director of Athletics Brad Bates, seems to be “gameday experience.” Bates, from the beginning of his tenure at BC, has sought to make it clear to students, alumni, and fans that he wants a day at Alumni to be one of the top experiences in the ACC.
The buzzword has been used heavily this week as BCEagles.com published a letter from Bates, but what exactly are they talking about when they mention the “gameday experience?” What model are they using? What is the end goal, and how exactly will we know when that is met?
On the first day of many a microeconomics class, the professor will stand at the front and explain the fundamental theory that is the Economic Problem. In every economic problem, there are three elements that structure it.
First, there is an objective. There must be something that you want to gain or achieve. In econ, they’ll talk about a firm seeking a profit. Second, there are alternatives—more than one route that you can take in solving your problem. Do I pour money into advertising and hope it pays off, or do I cut costs? Third, there are constraints, and these pose the biggest problem when solving your economic problem. Budget. Demand for your product. Laws.
In the first paragraph of the letter that Bates published on Monday, he cited his objective in broad terms.
“At Boston College, our vision is to make your time on our campus memorable and meaningful, with you not wanting it to end,” he wrote.
Well, that all sounds just about perfect. At the same time, however, it’s very abstract. In his letter, Bates goes on to explain initiatives and steps that the athletic department has been taking, but what exactly is the final vision? What is the best gameday experience? Are we envisioning an SEC-style tailgate to make its way onto Shea Field? Do we expect Alumni to fill up and create as much noise as Death Valley? Even with that, could BC say that it has the best gameday experience, or would other elements come into play?
We flow pretty easily from there to the second element of the economic problem—alternatives. Numerous changes that have already been put into place illustrate that Bates has already spent some time considering his options.
Bates started early in the calendar when he held a town hall meeting to discuss the coming season with alumni and fans. His alternatives? Listen to fans, trust their opinions, or go purely with strategies developed internally.
Most noticeable to students is the implementation of the Gold Pass. Although it has its flaws in that it is an all or nothing ticketing solution for students, Bates has decided to reward loyalty to BC athletics by choosing the new system over the old. There have been kinks—the hubbub at the Villanova game is memorable in that much of the student section remained empty until midway through the first quarter as a cue of students with Gold Pass issues waited for entry—but Bates has been quick and direct about dealing with the problem and could even be seen standing outside the student gate at Friday’s Wake Forest game asking for students’ opinion on the Gold Pass system.
Other alternatives have been decided on as well—live Eagle or no live Eagle? One hour of tailgating after or two? Should we put a portion of the budget into pyrotechnics or should we focus on external marketing?
We’ve got an Eagle to be named later, extended tailgating, a full student section (at least during the first half), and fireworks—why can’t BC claim the best gameday experience in the ACC?
The issue lies in that the biggest element that will determine the quality of BC’s gameday lies completely out of Bates’ hands: the constraints.
Essentially, it all comes down to one constraint from which all of the others derive themselves. As long as BC is winning—especially if they build on a streak—there will be interested fans, a loud stadium, and a lively tailgate. So far, the Eagles have won two straight. The energy that came off of winning the home opener left an optimistic crowd eager for the Wake game.
It showed. The high of the first win combined with some of the elements that Bates has provided and the night game atmosphere led to a raucous student section and an impressively full, excited stadium.
What happens after this weekend, though? If BC pulls off a win over USC, Alumni will likely explode with excitement after the bye week when Florida State comes to town, regardless of the Seminoles’ ranking. But what if BC loses?
It’s easy to ride the high of a couple wins—especially with the optimism that comes with the start of the Addazio era, but when that comes down, the gameday experience is bound to come down with that. There are other constraints—everything from budget to the weather, but the element of the gameday that will make the biggest difference to the fans is confidence in their team.
If BC plays like the strong teams in the SEC and pulls off a competitive record, then maybe we can hope for that elusive SEC gameday experience, but without a legitimate reason to believe in the team, fans will lose their excitement and confidence.
Scarcity is another principle that helps to define the economic problem. Because of limited resources, you can never completely satisfy the objective of your problem. There have to be sacrifices along the way that lead to a slightly incomplete solution.
Scarcity means that we won’t be as loud as Death Valley unless we add more seats to Alumni, but that would sacrifice a healthy portion of the budget. Scarcity means that there are only so many wins to go around that must be split among the 12 teams that BC will face this year.