A recurring theme of Turnkey’s blogs – and sports business writing and commentary in general – is the high level of competition for consumers’ entertainment dollars. It’s become a significant challenge for certain teams and properties to successfully make the case that they’re deserving of those dollars in the form of season ticket commitments, especially when their W/L records are heavy with “L’s”.

One issue that may contribute to the difficulty teams have obtaining those deposits is the way many season ticket payment plans are structured. For example, in Major League Baseball, may teams require deposits on the following season be submitted in November/December, with the balance due in January/February. That’s tough, for several reasons: consumers don’t have ‘baseball on the brain’ during that period, many budgets are tighter than usual during the holidays, and teams rosters are far from settled in November (so fans don’t have a good idea of whether or not their team will even be competitive the following season).

Sales staffs can’t do much to combat some of these issues, but one step they can take to make season ticket purchases easier for their fans is to get creative with payment options. For example: I recently stumbled on a Christmas budgeting idea online, that suggested putting away the following amount of money every week, beginning on Jan. 1:

Week 1: $52
Week 2: $51
Week 3: $50
…etc.

You get the picture. By week 25, the week’s payment is down to $28; by week 40, it’s $13; by week 50, it’s $1. If you follow the plan all the way through, you’ve saved approximately $1,400 by the time next Christmas rolls around, which is more than enough for a partial season ticket plan in most major sports.

What if teams offered plans like this? It would have a major impact on their budgets in terms of when revenues would be available for use (and would be much more labor-intensive – and potentially costly – from a collection standpoint), but it might bring in a new wave of season ticket holders who find smaller, regularly-scheduled investments more palatable than a big payment during a challenging time of year.

It might also be more appealing psychologically: the fan may feel like he or she is paying for services as they’re rendered (rather than making a ‘leap of faith’ lump-sum payment months before receiving a return). And finally, if the team has a rough year, fans’ payouts are so decreased by the end of the season ($10 one week, $9 the next, etc.) that they may still feel like they’re getting a bargain.

Know of any teams offering creative, long-term payment plans? Reach out to Emily on twitter to let her know and continue the conversation!

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