Sports organizations and their athletes compete not only within their respective leagues/sports arenas but also within entertainment alternatives such as television networks and social media. They are part of daily activities and talks within any community. In fact, when a couple of people come together in any community around the world, one of the first topics they discuss is the performance of their favorite athletes and teams. Furthermore, any comments or activities such as team owners' racist statements or players' off-the-field incidents affect the teams' and leagues' image. Apparently, teams and their fans are in special relationships. The image of a team, even the personalities of its athletes can influence these relationships. For example, the NBA has hired a new chief marketing officer in an effort to expand its popularity, repair its image, and match the NFL's high television ratings (Vranica, 2014). In some situations fans may lose interest and transfer to another team. Retaining spectators' interests is one of the most crucial responsibilities for sports marketers in a multi-billion-dollar industry (Tsiotsou, 2013).
In order to increase game awareness and attendance, teams laid out carefully planned marketing activities (Hansen & Gauthier, 1989). A professional sports organization's revenue results from not only venues' ticket sales, but also media rights, sponsorships, merchandise sales, and stadium seating arrangements (Mason, 1999). As the marketing of sporting events continues to expand, sports marketers must make wise decisions in terms of adding value to the service, and satisfying their target markets, this way they may retain and expand their fan base and convince them to attend sports events more frequently.
For example, the Sacramento Kings, an NBA team, is famous for new marketing ventures; thanks to collaborating with several business sponsors, this basketball team has created attractive offers for its fans including a mascot's eye view of events and a virtual reality tour of the arena. The team has also strengthened its relationship with fans through one-stop shopping in Northern California. These kinds of innovative attempts have increased ticket sales (Boudway, 2014). Senior executives are seeking other ways to sustain long-term relationships with fans. Amenities such as mobile apps, which stream instant video replays, notification about restroom lines, behind-the-scenes information, personalized engagement at the arena, forum discussions, and analyses of team performance, are ways of attracting more passionate fans. Sports organizations can be successful as long as they focus on making their fans more passionate (Hutchison, 2015). The rules of sports spectatorship are altering as activities of engaging fans before and after games have become more important than the game day activities.
In considering attendance growth in the sports industry, sports organizations concentrate on offering better brand equity and creating more satisfaction among their fans and sponsors (Beccarini & Ferrand, 2006). Sports organizations are sources of leisure-time activities for fans and brand building opportunities for sponsors, who recognize and share a mutually attractive team image. Based on this social reality, a sports organization's positive image contributes to fans' support and engagement (Ferrand & Pages, 1999). Game attendance is thought of as a process-related leisure- time activity; therefore, many factors influence the fans' experiences (Theodorakis, Alexandris, Tsigilis, & Karvounis, 2013). From higher ticket prices and ease of recalling the sports organization's brand name to attitudes of fans and image perceptions about mascots can contribute to assessing a sports organization's brand equity. Sports fans' continual engagement and commitment to sports organizations depends on perceived value, satisfaction, and brand equity. In order to better understand and predict behavioral intentions of sports fans, sports marketers must understand complex relationships among the above mentioned constructs. (Yoshida & Gordon, 2012).
This study aimed to contribute to sports marketing literature by developing scales to measure perceived value, satisfaction, brand equity and behavioral intentions related to sports spectatorships. Because long-term and uninterrupted fan attendance is regarded as a meaningful outcome for a sports organization, this paper focuses on how to develop that kind of structure. Relevant constructs such as perceived value, satisfaction, brand equity, and behavioral intentions are investigated here because these constructs within the context of college football have not been collectively explored in other sports marketing literature. However, marketing literature provided evidence that they may be relevant in sports spectatorship. Specifically, this study may provide researchers and practitioners valid and reliable measurement tools for making decisions leading to increased support of and higher attendance rate at sporting events, thus gaining a competitive advantage for sports teams.
The sports industry is characterized by intense competition among organizations within leagues, with other leagues, and with other leisure-time activities. Today, sports organizations recognize fans as customers. Thus, from a marketing perspective, the key issue is developing better relationships with these customers. Sports organizations' success depends on not only performance on the field, but also interaction with fans. Therefore, these organizations must consider multiple ways to increase the number of fans, thus reinforcing competitiveness.
Zeithaml (1988) referred to the concept of perceived value as "the overall assessment of the utility of a product or service based on perception of what is received and what is given" (p.14). Perceived value can also be determined in other ways. Sheth, Newman, and Groos (1991) approached perceived value as consumption value dimensions that influence consumer choices. These dimensions consist of the following: emotional value, which is related to feelings that products and services arouse; social value, which is the social image of having particular products or services; functional value, which stems from specific products' or services' characteristics; epistemic value, which is concerned with choosing new alternatives of existing products or services; and conditional value, which corresponds to benefits from a product or service in a specific situation. Consumer choices may be based on any or all of these five consumption values. Sweeney, and Soutar...