TUSACALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama’s kinesiology department hosted their first Sport Management Distinguished Lecture of the year last week. Tom Patterson, senior director of consumer marketing and ticket sales at Talladega Superspeedway, spoke on how NASCAR has changed their marketing methods to attract new audiences.
Patterson said that NASCAR has been challenged with an aging fan base. To counter this they have adopted a playoff system, and Talladega itself has implemented youth and collegiate marketing strategies. Talladega uses campus ambassadors to “sing the gospel of NASCAR” to college students, and now offers free kids’ tickets. Patterson likes to remind people of the sport’s uniqueness by saying, “You can’t go in your backyard and play NASCAR.”
Talladega gets a majority of its revenue from the 40% of fans who camp. Their highest-end corporate RV spot goes for $22,000 a day and can host 50 people. Patterson is very passionate about his job saying, “When those grandstands are half-full, I take that personally.”
The sport management department in the college of kinesiology hosts the Distinguished Lecture series as a part of their classes. Dr. Dylan Williams, an associate professor, said, “We try our best to pair the lecturer with the class they’re going to be in, and we find that makes it easier for the student.”
Sport management professors use their connections with professionals in the field to select guest speakers for their classes. While the lectures are a part of classes, they are open to anyone who finds out about them. “Our goal is to help you out and build your future up,” Williams said. “We’re trying to let it grow and let it be known as much as we can. Our sport management program is very strong and we see a very strong desire for growth in the near future.”