April 28, 2013

Trying to get on solid ground

Rampage face challenges of any small business in tough economy


Declining numbers

As the season has progressed, attendance has dropped. Smith said the team sold 700 tickets for its first regular season game, at home versus the Lakeland (Fla.) Raiders on March 4. For the team’s most recent home game, against the Corpus Christi (Texas) Fury on April, the number of tickets sold was close to 400, and Smith admitted the organization lost money.

“I always prepare for the worst, and I always get on everybody’s nerves with that,” Smith said. “People always get mad and say I’m too (pessimistic). I’m like, ‘No, I always shoot for the worst.’ ... But it’s always tough. I will say the attendance is lower than I thought and the business support as far as advertising and sponsorship is lower than I thought.”

The average number of tickets sold through the five home games so far is about 600, said Smith, who expressed surprise that the number hasn’t reached 1,000 yet.

Doug Phipps, the trade center’s general manager, thinks the first year’s numbers show promise.

“We were happy with the 600s or 700s for the first year ... In the second year, I think that number will go up and the level of talent will go up,” Phipps said.

In addition to money from people or organizations leasing or renting space there, the trade center takes most of its revenue from concession sales and a small amount of merchandise sales, Smith said. The Rampage received 5 percent of concessions sales — and it bumps to 10 percent when attendance reaches 1,500 — and that equals about $200 per home game. Smith said the team made $540 off merchandise sales at its most recent home game and the team averages around $500, which is $3,000 for the year. However, there is a cost to make the apparel and items, and Smith believes the profit is about $1,500 for the year.

Prior to the season, Smith said the Rampage spent $1,000 per month from August through December in print advertising. He said the team also spent $1,500 per month in radio ads from January through April. However, he doesn’t believe he’s seen much of a return from those marketing avenues. Instead, he favors “guerrilla marketing,” which Smith defined as “feet on pavement, shaking hands and handing out fliers.” For instances, the Rampage held two meet-the-players events at Oakwood Cafe and Academy Sports and Outdoors just days before their February preseason game. Smith said it costs less and allows for a more personable interaction with the market audience.

“With anything we’ve done and all the money we’ve wasted, I think guerrilla marketing has the best return,” Smith said.

He also hasn’t been thrilled with advertising and sponsorship reception from local businesses. The bulk of the team’s revenue comes from ticket sales and sponsorships. Smith said the average fan spends $12 per ticket — with single-game prices ranging from $8 to $25 and season-ticket packages from $40 to $125. Smith estimates ticket sales equal to about $7,200 per home game. Ads on the wall pads and sponsors add an extra $28,000 in revenue for the whole season, Smith said, noting most UIFL teams make $20,00 from one sponsor.

“In the future, we hope more businesses will take a chance on us,” Smith said. “Sponsorships and advertisers is really what runs the program. ... It was a lot lower (than I expected).”

The team does not bring in any revenue from road games, Smith said.

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