MCG’s Food Cut Seems to be Paying Off
During the 2014 season, both the AFL and NRL experienced a near half decade low in attendance levels. Etihad Stadium reached an all-time low with average of just 28, 570 (11.7% decrease) and the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) average of 50,107 was down 8.4% and at its lowest since 2007.
In an effort to increase crowd levels, the MCG announced a $14 million investment over the next seven years to deliver fans affordable food and beverages at all events. Etihad followed suit by reducing hot chip prices and introducing a $3 meat pie deal for Sundays events.
With MCG’s food prices and, to a lesser extent Etihad Stadium, now resembling a decade earlier, the crowd numbers have improved so far in 2015 season.
As of Round 4 the iconic ground has seen an average of 60, 058 fans turn out. This represents a massive increase from 2014’s average of just 50, 450 at the same round. If these numbers are consistent, it will register the grounds biggest average in over a decade. The annual MCG opener between Carlton and Richmond had a 35% increase over last season and the fixture’s biggest crowd since 2009. Even the notoriously low turn out of the Melbourne and Gold Coast game registered a 57% increase over last year and its biggest crowd to date.
While the MCG’s strategy has paid off, Etihad’s crowds are headed in an opposite direction. Overall, the roofed stadium has had an average of just 23, 285 in 2015. However, only two Sunday afternoon games have been played there so far this season and the sample size is too small to properly determine a decrease.
A look at the NRL has shown a further reduction from the previous year’s lows. The figures show that the NRL have experienced their worst crowd levels since 2003 with attendance prices again being a major talking point. Currently, ANZ stadium has not followed their AFL counterparts (by reducing food prices) and this seems to be having an effect on crowds. So far in 2015, ANZ has seen an average of just 24, 175; a 2% decrease from 2014 and a further 12% decrease from 2013.
While it is still early days, the unique strategy of the MCG is winning consumers over. The battle for space between the countries two biggest sports is ongoing, but with ANZ stadium’s food costing up to 30% more, it seems the NRL could learn from the AFL’s major stadium.
Written by Andrew Knezevic