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College Sport and Declining Stadium Attendance: Designing Adaptive Strategies

Gashaw Abeza, Norm O’Reilly, Kyle Kashuck, Joshua Law, and Alexandra Speck

This case study presents the challenge of declining football attendance that a number of NCAA football programs are facing. The case participants (as members of a hypothetically formed advisory board) are asked to develop adaptive strategies and tactics to respond to this challenge by conducting an in-depth examination of fans’ declining stadium attendance and proposing recommendations to the Pac-12 Commissioner’s office. Particularly, students are expected to detail the reasons for fans’ declining stadium attendance, to identify the short-term and long-term implications of declining stadium attendance, and to specify adaptive (corrective) strategies that can be designed based on Arizona State University’s ticket-related marketing initiatives as a template. As a member of the advisory board, students are asked to address a list of questions and provide recommendations to address the challenge.

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Relationship Marketing: Revisiting the Scholarship in Sport Management and Sport Communication

Gashaw Abeza, Norm O’Reilly, and Jessica R. Braunstein-Minkove

Relational perspectives have influenced marketing theory and practice over the past 40 years, with a volume of relationship marketing (RM) research accumulating over this time. In sport management specifically, a number of RM research articles have been published since the late 1990s. Although an influx has been seen, a review of said literature informs us that RM is a diverse field with no single best explanation, no clear domain and scope, and no universally accepted definition and that, most particularly, the literature is a melting pot of various concepts. This circumstance creates frustration and confusion among new researchers. Additionally, as strategic communication strategies rely on clear and consistent messaging, it is pivotal to holistically address the issue. Therefore, adopting an integrative literature review approach, this commentary revisits the RM scholarship to present, brings attention to the complex nature of the RM literature, and identifies a point of departure for researchers attempting to find a fitting “home” for their research.

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An Integrative Model of Sport Relationship Marketing: Transforming Insights Into Action

Gashaw Abeza, David Finch, Norm O’Reilly, Eric MacIntosh, and John Nadeau

Adopting an integrative literature review approach, this study synthesized sport relationship marketing (SRM) articles to gain insight into how relationship marketing in sport-related studies is presently understood, interpreted, and utilized. Informed by two decades of SRM literature, we synthesized our findings into a conceptual model that presents the systematic dimensions of SRM. This model transforms the theoretical contributions of the field’s scholars into actionable insights for both scholars and practitioners’ use. The work concludes by identifying specific future research to test and refine the proposed SRM model.

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Social Media Scholarship in Sport Management Research: A Critical Review

Gashaw Abeza, Norm O’Reilly, Benoit Séguin, and Ornella Nzindukiyimana

This work critically assesses the history and current state of social media scholarship in sport management research. Methodologically, the study is based on a comprehensive census review of the current body of literature in the area of social media. The review identifies 123 social media articles in sport management research that were mined from a cross-disciplinary examination of 29 scholarly journals from January 2008 (earliest found) to June 2014. The work identifies the topic areas, the platforms, the theories, and the research methods that have received the (most/least) attention of the social media research community, and provides suggestions for future research.

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Determinants of Regional Sport Network Television Ratings in MLB, NBA, and NHL

George Foster, Norm O’Reilly, Carlos Shimizu, Neal Khosla, and Ryan Murray

This paper examines the determinants of live game Regional Sport Network (RSN) average annual ratings in three major North American professional sport leagues: Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the National Hockey League (NHL). A conceptual model of the determinants of club RSN ratings is constructed based on a marketing management framework. Five categories of determinants are identified: Product-Club, Product-Player, Brand-Club, Brand-Player, and Place. Data were collected over a 12-year period (1999–2011) for a total of 46 independent variables. The list of independent variables was reduced to 16 factors and a proxy variable for each of the factors identified. Univariate and multivariate analyses were undertaken. Strong support for the each of the five categories in the conceptual model was found for the pooled sample of all three leagues. Results at the individual league level revealed league differences in the relative importance of individual variables. Implications for future research and practice are presented.

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The Cameo Effect of Host Country and the Transitory Mega-Event: Patterns of Effect on Sponsorship Evaluation for Sport Tourists and Residents

John Nadeau, Norm O’Reilly, Erdinc Cakmak, Louise Heslop, and Sonja Verwey

In this paper, the authors address a literature gap with regard to sponsorship outcomes of mega-events and their host countries. This paper is about research that investigates the interrelatedness of three important images—host country, mega-event, and sponsor images—from the perspective of a cameo appearance building on the sponsorship and brand placement literature. It is based on the premise that the host city makes a cameo appearance during a mega-event for sport tourists while the event itself makes a cameo appearance for residents of the host country. The results indicate that mega-events can have a transitory influence, and that cameo effects exist, but that the patterns of relationships are different for sport tourists and residents.

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Social Media as a Relationship Marketing Tool in Professional Sport: A Netnographical Exploration

Gashaw Abeza, Norm O’Reilly, Benoit Seguin, and Ornella Nzindukiyimana

This study, guided by the relationship marketing theoretical framework, adopted an observational netnography method to investigate professional sport teams’ use of Twitter as a relationship marketing tool. Specifically, the study focused on the three core components of the theoretical framework of relationship marketing: communication, interaction, and value. The observational netnography is based on data gathered from the official Twitter account of 20 professional sport teams in the four major North American leagues over a seven-month period. Results outline seven emergent communication types, six interaction practices, and ten values (co)created by the teams or/and fans. Theoretical and practical implications, as well as impetus for future research, are identified.

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Mega-Special-Event Promotions and Intent to Purchase: A Longitudinal Analysis of the Super Bowl

Norm O’Reilly, Mark Lyberger, Larry McCarthy, Benoît Séguin, and John Nadeau

Mega-special-event properties (sponsees) have the ability to attain significant resources through sponsorship by offering exclusive promotional opportunities that target sizeable consumer markets and attract sponsors. The Super Bowl, one of the most watched television programs in the world, was selected as the mega-special-event for this study as it provides a rare environment where a portion of the television audience tunes in specifically for the purpose of watching new and entertaining commercials. A longitudinal analysis of consumer opinion related to the 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006 Super Bowls provides empirical evidence that questions the ability of Super Bowl sponsorship to influence the sales of sponsor offerings. Results pertaining to consumers’ intent to purchase sponsors’ products—one of the most sought after metrics in relating sponsorship effectiveness to sales—demonstrate that levels of intent-to-purchase inspired by sponsorship of the Super Bowl is relatively low and, most importantly, that increases are not being achieved over time. These findings have implications for both mega-sponsees and their sponsors as well as media enterprise diffusing mega-special-events.

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Enhancing the Fan Experience at Live Sporting Events: The Case of Stadium Wi-Fi

Nadège Levallet, Norm O’Reilly, Elizabeth Wanless, Michael Naraine, Ethan Alkon, and Wade Longmire

While live sport event attendance remains a pervasive and progressing issue for university athletic programs, athletic directors should consider strategies to boost perceptions of stadium innovativeness. Professional sport leagues have pursued the adoption of Wi-Fi capabilities much more aggressively than their collegiate sport counterparts. This case introduces the Wi-Fi adoption issue for collegiate sport including a conversation surrounding the foundational technical aspects of Wi-Fi and cellular data for sport venues, the current status of Wi-Fi for collegiate athletics in comparison with professional leagues, and the benefits and drawbacks of Wi-Fi adoption. Case participants are asked to evaluate the merits of Wi-Fi adoption for a “Power Five” institution from the position of the athletic director. Participants will address adopting functional technology for the rise in college esports, Wi-Fi inclusion for indoor and outdoor venues, and comparative analyses among connected and disconnected stadiums.

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Qatar 2022 World Cup: Designing a Context-Based Decision-Making Approach

Gashaw Abeza, Mads Quist Boesen, Norm O’Reilly, and Jessica R. Braunstein-Minkove

The case presents a challenging decision that the new Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) President faced with the Qatar 2022 World Cup. Specifically, the issues surround the agreement that the President signed a year after his election with Qatar Airways and the allegations made against the 2022 World Cup host country, Qatar, for human rights violations and state-sponsored terrorism. Right after the allegation was made against Qatar, the President formed an advisory group to help prepare him to make a rational decision on the case. You have been appointed as the members of the advisory board that is tasked with investigating and making recommendations on the President’s challenge of keeping his campaign promises of restoring FIFA’s image and raising more money for the federation.