Kantar Sports MONITOR has been tracking the attitudes of sports fans since the Covid-19 pandemic struck. The most recent data mark a major milestone in the return of sports.
What the Numbers Say
For the first time since the pandemic began, a majority of U.S. fans feel comfortable returning to an in-person sporting event.
54% of all adults – and 65% of sports fans – now say that they feel extremely or very comfortable returning to an outdoor sporting event.
The high confidence in outdoor events’ safety is good news for baseball and softball. MLB clubs are increasing attendance, and NCAA baseball and softball championships can now operate at full capacity if local restrictions allow.
Take a look at the scene in Truist Park when the Atlanta Braves hit a walk-off home run. It looks, feels and sounds normal.
However, fans are less comfortable attending games indoors. Nonetheless, as some NBA and NHL franchises have opened their doors to more fans, they’ve still been able to sell out their arenas.
The Phoenix Suns certainly had a strong atmosphere for their opening postseason game.
While the championship stakes of these games can draw in enough hardcore fans to fill indoor arenas, hesitation still persists.
Moreover, that hesitation grows even more among the less-hardcore fans.
Kantar calls the avid fans “first movers.” This group is leading the way in returning to stadiums. However, many fans for whom sports aren’t quite as important or fans who are taking a more cautious approach to Covid may need more confidence to attend sporting events again.
Reaching More Fans
Kantar expects fans’ confidence to grow as more people get vaccinated. Just as fans’ confidence reached a milestone by surpassing 50%, the U.S.’s vaccine efforts reached a similar milestone. (Kantar actually conducted this survey a week before this big vaccine news. Now, over 53% of U.S. adults have been fully vaccinated and almost 64% have received a first dose.)
Still, Kantar concludes that, with everyone used to a year of pandemic living, venues – particularly indoor ones – “will likely need to pay special attention to the concerns of hygiene-minded, risk-averse Americans.”
IIFX has outlined ways to address those concerns in its Return to Work, Play and Spectate guide. Complete with advice from sports and entertainment executives and medical experts, the guide provides simple, easy-to-follow charts, questions and checklists to help venues safely and confidently welcome fans back.