How to sell track and field tickets online
Eight decades of success continued this past weekend as the 86th Annual Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays were held at the University of Texas in Austin. In addition to being one of the most popular track & field events in the country, the Relays serve as a reference standard for how to sell tickets to outdoor sporting events. This post shows what schools and local pro-am sporting events can learn from the Texas Relays to successfully sell track and field tickets online.
The Texas Relays: A Reference Standard
The Texas Relays originally began as a men’s only competition but gender equality has been the norm since 1960s. The equality extends to age as well since both college and high school athletes participate. Attendance levels have done nothing but increase over the years and in 2013 the event sold out all 20,000+ tickets at the Mike A. Myers stadium. Note that UT offered both general admission and reserved seating to the various competitions at the stadium. Reserved seating sold at a premium price and was available for purchase on the UT Longhorns website.
Selling all the Relay tickets is a result of impressive event awareness and promotion, which has a long, and somewhat infamous history, according to the Daily Texan:
To encourage attendance in the early years of the event, various publicity stunts were staged. The most successful was a 1927 stunt in which three Tarahumaras were invited to the Relays. These men were famed as runners who never stopped running. A race was staged between the men from San Antonio to Memorial Stadium. After 14 hours and 53 minutes, the 89 mile race ended in a tie.
Since those early days, the Texas Relays has evolved into more than a sporting event to be a cultural gathering of college students from around the country. The weekend on which the event is held includes the rowdy nightlife and music concerts one would associate with youth culture.
Beyond The Track
From an event management perspective, the Relays are divided into two phenomena - the athletics and the nightlife.
The athletic competition falls under the management of the University of Texas (UT) which also serves as the official ticket outlet. UT obviously has a lot of experience in selling tickets to big events, hundreds of thousands people are present for the Longhorns football games each season. That experience shows in the special ancillary events UT intertwines during the course of the Relays weekend. For example, there is a special event with appearances by past Relays competitors, including Olympic medal winners, called Autograph Alley. Autograph Alley is part of the Texas Relays 'Fan Fest', a free event that tuns concurrently with the Relays but tickets are available separately.
The weekend nightlife associated with the Relays had it own ticketing processes spread across multiple Austin venues. The main nightlife event was the Austin Urban Music Festival at Auditorium Shores. The music festival ran continuously during the weekend and is the largest ancillary event associated with the Texas Relays. In addition to the Urban Music Fest, smaller musical performances and DJ sets at local Austin nightclubs occurred, all ticketed separately.
How To Sell Track And Field Tickets Online
One may think that the scope and scale of the Texas Relays, and the associated nightlife events, is too big to be applicable at the local level, but that is not the case. The stadium competition uses standard two tier ticketing (GA and reserved seating) and the nightlife events are sold separately by the respective venues.
If you want to sell track and field tickets online, using the success of the Relays as inspiration, start by dividing the athletic venue into two tiers. Premium seating, that is the seats closest to the track start finish line, need to be represented in a visual way during the online purchase process. After that, you can get creative and think of special events, like UT's "Autograph Alley", that will encourage all day attendance (All day attendance means more concession stand sales!). A special event can be as simple as renting a inflatable bounce house or an appearance by a local celebrity. Just be sure that access to the special event requires a primary event ticket.
The Texas Relay nightlife can also be scaled down to be part your neighborhood track and field event. There may already be a local craft fair or cook-off event in your town, possibly managed by the city. If the calendar date of your track and field event is reasonably close to the date of a city cook-off, consider having the two events coincide The city may be open to the idea of a minor change in their event date if it means they can reduce costs (security, sanitation, etc.) by conflating two events into one.
Ultimately, to sell track and field tickets online you will need to choose the right sports ticketing software. One that is easy to use and cost effective. You don't have a budget like the Texas Relays, so choose a ticketing software that scales to meet the needs of your event.
The ThunderTix plan for athletic events has optional custom reserved seating charts so you can split the stadium seating into two tiers, just like UT does. It also allows you offer separate ticketing for ancillary events during the purchase process of the primary event. Best of all, we do not charge you per-ticket fees. Our technology is used to sell tickets for some of the largest events in north America but we pride ourselves on providing value to the smaller local events, like yours!