Club Delighted By t20 Crowds Increase
Comment and Analysis | 27th July 2011
They always say that spectators will flock to watch a successful team – and that partly explains the excellent attendance figures for table-topping Notts Outlaws' t20 North Group games at Trent Bridge this summer.
But when you consider the club's crowds have increased by 18.35 per cent year on year, even though the club finished second to Warwickshire under the same format last year, there are clearly other factors at work.
The weather, undoubtedly, has a significant bearing on things, with the green and golds benefiting from sun rather than rain more than most.
Only one game – their keenly-anticipated clash with second-placed Leicestershire Foxes – was abandoned due to bad weather.
What has arguably been even more influential, though, is the club's attention to detail in promoting and running their home fixtures. Nothing has been left to chance.
It has meant Notts have been in a strong position to capitalise on their on-field success, with crowds rising, on average, from 6,205 to 7,344 – putting them on a similar footing to Notts County, as the second-best supported sports club in the county behind Nottingham Forest.
"We're really pleased with the attendance levels this summer," said chief executive Derek Brewer.
"From the figures I have seen we have the third best aggregate in the country behind Surrey and Middlesex, which I think reflects the quality of the product on offer.
"These days I think you need high-quality cricket, a pleasant environment with good facilities in which to watch it and also good weather.
"The team have played so well, with the likes of David Hussey outstanding for the period he was here.
"It's been great to see youngsters come in and take their chance such as Scott Elstone and Andy Carter, before he suffered his injury.
"You need a good fielding side in t20 and Mick has brought together the overseas, experienced and young players brilliantly. Winning the group was a great achievement.
"And we have been fortunate that, apart from our game with Leicestershire, we have got away with it with the weather compared to most."
Some counties have severely limited the budget they have used to market their t20 season in these tough financial times, but Notts believe you have to speculate to accumulate.
That policy is rewarded by the ECB, who match the total spend on each club's campaign up to a threshold of £10,000.
The green and golds have also helped their attendances by keeping ticket prices down to an affordable level that compares well with their county rivals.
Standard prices on the day have been £15 for adults and senior citizens and £8 for children, but with significant discounts on tickets purchased in advance, particularly on those for families and groups.
Brewer said: "The Put Some Colour In Your Cricket campaign has been really important. It's vital to promote t20.
"Affixxius have worked brilliantly on that with us, along with all the players. It's great to drive under the Broadmarsh Centre walkway and see Scott Elstone leaping out at you!
"With money so tight in every walk of life, we have set our ticket pricing realistically. We want to have the highest crowds we can here.
"We have had a situation because of preparing for the one-day international where we had a run of home games in quite a short period of time.
"Given that, we are even more delighted that people have come back to support one match after another."
There is a feeling among many counties that the number of domestic t20 games has now reached saturation point.
And despite their continuing success at Trent Bridge in bringing in the crowds, that is a view they share.
"Our strongly held view is that the best structure for domestic t20 is five home games rather than eight," said Brewer. "We feel you need to leave people wanting to come back for more because you can have too much of it.
"There has been a good open debate and I think from next season it will change to five.
"We also think June is absolutely the right time to be playing this. Some people say it should run throughout the season but we disagree.
"It works well with playing it when the weather is theoretically better and the days are longer.
"There is nothing better than a big crowd here when you get one of those lovely evenings.
"The key is to ensure all-comers enjoy their t20 experience – and want to come back again."
Notts invested over the winter in improving their corporate hospitality facilities in the Radcliffe Road Stand.
Packages for games this summer have been enormously popular and Brewer hopes it is a sign of things to come.
He said: "From a corporate point of view, we have been really pleased with some of our returns with certain games sold out.
"People come here and can see the facilities we have got are terrific. It is a fantastic view and a really good way to entertain.
"We are certainly seeing an early return on our investment so far. t20 has clearly grown in importance financially since it started in 2003 and it's important to maximise your income."
Notts' biggest attendances have tended to be on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons, although the club has no choice over when group matches are held.
"The ECB set the fixture list and you are dealt a hand but it is not easy for them and I think they do a good job with it," said Brewer. "You are given games on all sorts of different days, but Friday nights seem very popular and so do Sundays.
"They are two very different crowds that are attracted but both the atmospheres have been enjoyable."
Finishing top of the North Group thanks to a home win over the Worcestershire Royals, the Outlaws' reward is another match in front of their home fans against the Somerset Sabres, on Sunday, August 7.
That eagerly awaited knock-out clash is a repeat of last year's semi-final, that saw Notts beaten in controversial circumstances under the Duckworth/Lewis system after rain.
Brewer said: "To have the quarter-final is a real bonus, but first and foremost it's great for Mick Newell and the team to have progressed this far because they have worked really hard on this format.
"You don't budget for hosting a t20 quarter-final, so it will be a welcome increase to our bottom line.
"We would love to have a five-figure crowd for the quarter-final and we hope the people of Notts get behind us."
Judging by the healthy attendance figures so far, there is no danger of that not happening.
Advanced tickets are on sale for the quarter-final with Somerset. Click here for tickets.
For more local news and sport visit The Nottingham Post.
Matt Halfpenny is the Midlands Sports Journalist of the year and follows Nottinghamshire for the Nottingham Post.