How Much is that Ticket Really Worth? Understanding Customer-Perceived Value in the Sport Industry

Due to illness, I had to cancel class tomorrow, so I thought I would use my blog for a virtual classroom.  Although intended for my class, anyone reading this is more than welcome to participate and add to the discussion. I’m looking forward to reading all of the replies to this post.

The New York Times

The BUSI-252-01 Sport Marketing class is learning about sales and pricing in the sport industry. Last Friday, we talked about the different aspects of sales… how to be a good salesperson, different pricing strategies, and the actual cost a consumer pays to attend a sport event or participate in a sport activity.  I didn’t get to finish this discussion on Friday, so I thought I would complete that lecture here.

So… we talked about just how much a consumer actually pays to attend a game, play golf at the local course, go bowling and other sport-oriented activities. The class was broken up into groups with each group reviewing an assigned sport organization.  Their goal was to identify the different “packages” available by the organization as well as all other costs incurred by the consumer so they could experience the activity.  The organizations included in the project were as follows:

The students did a great job at identifying just how much it would cost an individual to travel from Buckhannon, West Virginia to their specified destination and spend the weekend to participate and experience the sport activity.  Some of their estimates ran into the $1,000’s.

Unfortunately, we ran out of time, and I didn’t really get to explain why it is so important to identify the actual cost a consumer pays to do these sport activities. As mentioned multiple times in class, sport is a highly emotional product… it’s probably safe to say it is the most emotionally involved product there is.  Which is why sport organizations need to concentrate on building value in the eyes of the consumer.

According to the Business Dictionary, value, in the marketing context, can be defined as “the extent to which a good or service is perceived by its customer to meet his or her needs or wants, measured by customer’s willingness to pay for it. It commonly depends more on the customer’s perception of the worth of the product than on its intrinsic value.”

The first caveat to this is in regards to the cost… it’s not just the cost of the ticket, green fees or gym membership that the sport marketer has to consider.  It’s all those other costs that the consumer incurs in order to watch the game, play a few rounds of golf or workout at the gym.  The ticket to the football game may cost $25, but then you have to include the cost of gas, parking, snacks during the game, dinner after the game and any other incidentals.  That $25 ticket can easily turn into $150 to $200 or even more.

I know what you’re thinking…. “So what? We just charge $25 for the ticket. We can’t control all the other expenses. What does that have to do with my sport marketing strategies?”

Here’s caveat #2… the consumer’s perception of the worth of the product will influence his willingness to pay for the product.  More easily put… the customer expects more out of the product than they pay for. In the customer’s mind, he didn’t pay $25 for a football ticket, he spent $200.  A golf package at Pebble Beach might be $2,500, but the customer spent $5,000 to spend the weekend golfing with his buddies, so he expects an experience worth $5,000.

This is why understanding the pricing concept is so important in the sport industry… for sport marketers as well as sport managers. This is also what makes your job so hard. Somehow, you have to give that football fan an experience that is worth $200.  If you give him a $25 dollar experience, he will have low customer-perceived value.  Do you know what that means?  He’s not coming back for another game. You have let him down, he’s disappointing and disgruntled.  You didn’t meet his expectations, even though he paid the full ticket price.

Just how big of deal is this? Consider one single game… the Super Bowl.  During last month’s big game, it was estimated that US consumers spent over $14 billion dollars on Super Bowl related expenses.  The total cost for fans to experience the Super Bowl is extremely high, and their expectations are even higher.  As a result, you get the fabulous halftime show and all the extras during the game.  Even fans watching the game on TV have high expectations of a true sport experience creating extra work for the networks as well as advertisers creating those highly expensive Super Bowl commercials.


So here’s my challenge to my BUSI-252-01 Sport Marketing students… return to one of the sport organizations that we looked at on Friday (listed above). Reply to my post below with the following….

  1. Provide a couple of pricing packages available.
  2. Discuss how these successful sport organizations exceed the customer’s expectations in order to build value in the eyes of the consumer. It may be in the venue, fan engagement events, the actual (core) product, augmented products, customer service, or even something to do with the facility such as lighting, music, colors, etc.
  3. Be sure to link to the website where you found your information.

To any non-student visitors, I hope you gain some knowledge from this post, and I encourage you to join in on the discussion.  To my students… extra credit opportunity… don’t pass it up. 🙂

Class dismissed,  pc


  1. For the Chicago Cubs home opener game, the price of one ticket ranges from $48-$269. That does not include parking, gas or food/drinks at the game. The Chicago Cubs do many things to add value to their games. They have short competitions/events in between their innings such as hot dog races, kiss cam’s, ect, in order to keep the fans engaged and entertained. They provide an energetic atmosphere through the music they play, their mascot, and videos they play on the big screen. I believe the Chicago Cubs do a great job in adding value to their tickets. When someone goes to buy a ticket to a Chicago Cubs ball game, they are buying much more than just a ticket to watch a baseball game. I got all of my information from….

    -Robert Armstrong


    1. Planet Fitness’s is a gym that strives to provide an environment that is judge free so that you feel comfortable to workout. It offers two different types of packages. The first is a basic package where you pay $10 a month. This package provides you with unlimited fitness training, unlimited access to the home club, and a free t-shirt. The second package is called the Black Card membership and it costs $19.99 a month. This package includes everything mentioned above in the first package and then some. The additional features are reciprocal use of all Planet Fitness franchise locations, unlimited guest privileges at any Planet Fitness location, use of tanning, unlimited use of massage chairs, ½ price cooler drinks, 20% off at Reebok products and at outlet locations, and much more. One thing that Planet Fitness does additionally is that they offer every member to take part in pizza Mondays and bagel Tuesdays. This is a fun thing they promote to get people interested in coming to the gym and it is also free. People love free things so this is a great selling point. I feel that all of these features make up for the price of the gym membership. The basic membership is only $10 a month and this is very cheap. That’s basically 30 cents a day if you break it down. Having unlimited access to gym at such a low price helps exceed the customer expectations because they get so much in return. Customers can even pay $10 more for additional features. These two deals are steals because you can take advantage of so many opportunities at a low price. Having all of these wonderful features helps exceed customer expectations because they are getting so much at low price. If you would like to look at the different memberships, go to


  2. The sports organization I looked at was the Rock n Roll half marathon. There a many different packages for this along with locations. The different packages include a different price along with a different distance to run. For example, the 5k costs $49.99 and the 20k costs $90.99.

    I believe the Rock n Roll half marathon exceeds customers expectation in several different ways. I first think the experience is a reward to the customer. Running in a race and trying to get the best time or doing it for one’s own health is a great experience in itself. These races create a wonderful united energy that I believe the customers enjoy. Along with this, these races usually provide a medal of some kind or reward at the end to display their achievement, which is included in the price of the package. This makes it more meaningful for the consumer and makes them feel like they just achieved something wonderful. In addition to this, the longer races sometime have a party at the end, and the 20k package looks like it has an all-day party after the running accomplishment. This is a great way to make customers feel that this experience has went above and beyond of what they initially signed up for, which was ultimately just a run.

    The link I used was:
    I’m not in your sports marketing class, I’m in your market research class, but am guessing you want us to this activity, since there was not another activity posted.

    Morgan Kelley


  3. For the Vail Ski Resort, lift ticket prices for the upcoming weekend, Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th, which are the Epic 2 Day Tickets are $358 for an adult and $248 for a child. It would be $338 for a senior ticket. For the Epic 3 Day Tickets are $507 for an adult, $351 for a child, and $477 for a senior. A stay from Friday March 24th to Sunday March 26th ranges anywhere from $299 per night to $9,274.94.

    -Brittany Spencer


  4. For Vail Ski Resort there are many different options on prices depending on many factors including where u stay how many days you are there how many people how old are the people and if u rent or not and the time of year and if u add lessons or not. Another big thing i have noticed from being there four times is the better you are at skiing or boarding the more you get out of it.

    For a five day pass for two adults just for the tickets it is $1,690. Get the Epic day pass because you can keep it for a lifetime and every time you go you can just put your new days on the same card. Three ways to save on ticket pricing is book online, the longer and more ski days the better, and purchase tickets up to midnight before the day of your trip to save more money then at the ticketing centre. For a family trip of six people including two kids, parents, and grandparents for five days is $ 4,450 just for tickets.

    For lodging it all depends where u want to stay the view the size of the room how many people and when and how many nights. For to adults for 4 nights stating March 27th staying at The Four seasons with a mountain view with a king bed it is $ 3,557.52. for this week minus food, travel, and rentals it would cost $5,247.52 just for a hotel and skiing. That is not with the one of the deals you can do if you do a package deal with skiing and a hotel. Most of the deals are only for three or more days. If you sign up online on the website you also get some deals.


  5. The pricing of tickets for a Chicago cubs single game is around $20 all the way up to around $270. No matter where you sit, I completely believe that a Chicago cubs fan gets exactly what they paid for, especially for this upcoming year. That reason being that they were the 2016 World Series Champions, which means the atmosphere for the 2017 season will be with so much positivity and joy in the atmosphere. If a team is doing well, then the atmosphere of the fans and the feeling of the game itself will be a joy to be apart of. Which makes the fans want to come back and enjoy more games, with the option to perhaps buy more expensive tickets so they can have even better seats then before to enjoy the game even more.
    I got my information from


  6. As Nate and I discussed in class, the Chicago Cubs baseball game ticket prices range from $48-$269. Assuming a family of four wants to attend the Cubs game, with the cheapest tickets, it would be about $192. However, this does not include the prices of food, drinks, parking, and shopping that can also be done at the stadium. The Chicago Cubs stadium provides information on their website about a train that takes fans to and from the stadium for $4 a person each way. The food prices range from $4-$12, beer ranges from $6-$8, and can be costly when going back to get more drinks.

    In order to exceed the consumer’s expectations, the Chicago Cubs have many breaks between innings and commercial breaks. During these breaks, their Jumbotron plays advertisements from their sponsors, there are little games to keep the kids involved such as choosing which baseball hat the ball is under after its been switched multiple times, etc. Also, the baseball players usually have their own walk-up songs to bat. Those songs that are being played usually pump up the crowd to get them rowdy for the player at bat.

    The link to the information I have found is included here:



  7. I did a bit of reading on Academy Sports Complex. This complex is an indoor facility in Chester county and it is used for practicing and training for all field sports. This facility offers three diverse indoor turf fields to accommodate a variety of field sports. They have 7 configurable batting cages and no matter what the weather may look outside, the complex is used all year-round. On top of that, it offers team and party rooms for off field activities which is a great thing. Non-sport people that come to rent a room and throw a party, they are being expose to the sport facility and they may decide to bring their children there to play. Near my hometown, there is a facility like this and it is great because, like this facility, they sometimes rent one whole field for their family to play and that’s a lot of money. They also rent a room for kid’s birthday and his pals. This facility offers a few packages. They have the Non-contract rates: With this package, you can rent a turf field and it features 80’X100′ of wide-open, turf space. 20′ high ceiling. This will cost you $175 per hour (they don’t do half hour rentals). Batting cage for $40 per hour. However, on batting cage special- you can get $30 per hour. Then there is the Contract rates: (when 16 or more hours is committed and contracts are signed). Turf field rental $150 per hour. Batting cage rental: discounted hour and 1/2 hour rates. Within this contract you also get team/party/event room. I guess what ASC does to catch the eye of the consumer is that it creates a friendly-athleticism atmosphere. This place is ideal for families who want to train with their family or bring their kids to practice withing a team. Another thing, the inside not just looks friendly and like a professional indoor facility but also very updated.

    Imber Andrade


  8. Upon visiting the Castle Lanes Bowling Alley website, it appears that the prices of ticket packages are determined by the customer’s age, group size, and amount of time spent bowling. Kids under 13 can bowl at any time, every day for the price of $9.95, shoes included. This price will let 1-2 players bowl for 1 hour, 3-4 players bowl for 1 1/2 hours, and 5-6 players bowl for 2 hours. These details also apply to adults over 13 years old, except the price is changed to $11.95 per person. Family open bowling pricing also applies, but is not explicitly given on the website, as prices vary according to the size of the family and age of its members.

    Castle Lanes uses a number of techniques in order to successfully provide value to its customers and exceed their expectations. A few of these features include a completely smoke-free atmosphere, as well as access to the XBowling Smartphone App which allows customers to earn points and win prizes as they bowl. Also, the facility itself is equipped with a nightclub quality sound system, HD DirecTV televisions with NFL Sunday Ticket in every lane, iPod hookups at every pair of lanes, live online scoreboards, and free Wi-Fi. Castle Lanes also offers a sports bar to customers, where live NFL games are broadcasted every Sunday. They serve various food and drink options ranging from pizza and burgers to wings and draft beer. They have also experienced tremendous national exposure over the years that has helped build their credibility, including landing at #36 in the “95 Bowling Centers in the World You Must Visit Before You Die” issue of Bowlers Journal International.

    The link to the Castle Lanes Bowling Alley website can be found here:

    -Collin Wallace


  9. I chose to do Castle Lanes Bowling Alley in Racine, Wisconsin.This bowling alley includes: bowling lanes, a Pro Shop, a sports bar, NFL On-Demand, volleyball, and a lodge type of feel. They have their pricing set up in a unique way. it is $11.95 for EVERYONE except kids 13 and under are $9.95, and get this, rental shoes are free! The way it is set up is if 1-2 people pay they get to play for an hour, 3-4 an hour and a half, and 5-6 two hours. Although I don’t think a family would fly out to Wisconsin just to go to Castle Lanes, if a family of four in Wisconsin wanted to go bowling for a night out it would be $47.80 (assuming everyone is over 13). This does not include the price of gas from wherever they are coming from (in the video it just mentioned places around the area, probably within an hour driving distance), price of food and drinks, and price of pro shop bowling ball (optional). Pricing of the menu items are not included on the website but it does include pizza, appetizers, sliders &burgers, wings and beer & liquor. So depending on what you were looking for would justify how much you spent on food and drinks. They also do not have the pricing of how much a ball from their pro shop would cost but this would be an optional purchase. The services offered at the pro shop are: plugging & redrilling, baking & resurfacing, fitting & drilling, and balls, bags, shoes & all bowling accessories.

    How does Castle Lane set itself apart from other bowling alleys? Their slogan is “Visit the wild side of bowling”. Their interior mimics an outdoor lodge with cabin like walls, birds hung all over and a backdrop that makes you feel like you are in the wild. They also offer FREE bowling shoes which is a good marketing tactic since most bowling alleys require a fee for bowling shoe rentals. Then they offer a fully stocked sports bar with alcohol, pool, food and football. Not only can you tune into NFL On-Demand games, but you can watch them WHILE you bowl on lane-side TVs. How cool! They also set themselves apart because they have a former bowling pro at the pro shop that does work on your ball, this is especially cool if you are a big bowling fan and can help your customer experience. Last, but certainly not least, they have four pro beach volleyball sand courts outside along with an outside beach bar for those summer months!

    These are ways that Castle Lanes bowling sets themselves apart from different bowling alleys. I got my information at


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