Stadium motives

Author Reid Ellis, University of San Francisco

Posted: September 30, 2017

Tagged: fan motives

The University of Notre Dame has recently finished the renovation of Notre Dame Stadium that brought the stadium into the modern era.  The renovation took avid fans, as well as more casual sport consumers, into consideration while highlighting the rich history and lore that is associated with Fighting Irish football.  In creating a modern stadium while highlighting the traditions that made the program great, Notre Dame has touched upon the motives and the identity that their followers possess in the hopes of creating avid fans out of the casual sport consumer.

The $400 million renovation of Notre Dame Stadium is one that appeals to all sport audiences, whether they be consumers or fans.  Before the renovation, the 87-year-old stadium appealed only to fans as the gameday experience consisted of uncomfortable wooden bleachers, the band, and the game.  It was a pure football environment that did not do a good job of attracting sport consumers. Consumers are found to have a different behavior pattern than that of the die-hard fan (Pons, Giroux, & Mourali, 2014, p. 26). Consumers are not as dialed into the action as fans are, so to attract them to games, steps need to be taken to improve the game-day experience.  With the addition of a video board, better seating, luxury suites, better aesthetics in the concourses, and “robust connectivity upgrades”, Notre Dame is now positioned to more effectively target the sport consumer market (Muret, 2017, para. 4).

Notre Dame also did a great job in incorporating fans into the renovation. Both the university and the football program boast a rich history and prestige that not many schools in the country have, and it creates the sacred motives that drive spectators to the games.  Fans can now “feel Notre Dame’s rich history” throughout the entire stadium (Muret, 2017, para. 29). This rich history played into naming and design of luxury suites, design of the concourses, and game-day tactics with the new video board.  Notre Dame fans have a strong connection to the past and the traditions have a sacred meaning to them. The sacralization process leads to people having stronger connections with the team and the brand (Pons et al, 2014, p. 32). These connections are often passed down to new generations in families.  With the history and traditions more prevalent throughout the stadium, it is easier for the newer generations to make those connections and become Notre Dame fans for life.

The addition of the video board gives Notre Dame the ability to showcase some of their traditions live to the attendees of the game.  The pregame prayer, walk down the tunnel, and slapping of the “Play Like a Champion Today” sign are traditions that have long been a part of the football game-day experience for players.  Now, spectators in the stadium can witness these happening live on the video screen.  This helps create a sport identity for those in attendance.  They can now feel like they are a part of the tradition and the team and it builds the loyalty that all programs want to achieve.  Consumers and fans who feel as though they are part of the team are then more willing to spend money to watch the team in-person and buy team apparel.  The team at that point becomes “an integral part of their self-definition” (Funk & Lock, 2014, p. 45).

When looking at the renovation of Notre Dame Stadium, the laddering of team brand associations is an effective tool to understand the goals that the university has (Funk et al, 2014, p. 42).  The attribute/benefit of the renovation would be venue excitement.  Fans of Notre Dame football will see the finished product and it will create excitement around the program, which will lead to the consequence.  This consequence is the increase of ticket sales as fans and consumers will be more willing to spend the money to check out the new venue and be a part of history.  The value of all of this is that it will make fans and consumers feel like they belong.  They will feel like they are part of the rich history, traditions, and lore of Notre Dame football.





Funk, D. C., & Lock, D. (2014). Sport consumer attitudes: Formation, function, and effects on information processing. In M. P. Pritchard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging brands in sport business (pp. 37-50). New York, NY: Routledge.

Muret, D. (2017, September 11). Wake up the echoes: Notre Dame charges into the future with stadium project complete. SportsBusiness Journal, 20(21). Retrieved from

Pons, F., Giroux, M., & Mourali, M. (2014). Consumer behavior and motivation: Why are sport event consumers so special?. In M. P. Pritchard, & J. L. Stinson (Eds.), Leveraging brands in sport business (pp. 21-36). New York, NY: Routledge.

About Reid Ellis, University of San Francisco

Reid Ellis graduated from Culver-Stockton College in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management and a minor in Business Administration.  He is currently enrolled in the Sport Management graduate program at the University of San Francisco.  At Culver-Stockton, Reid interned with the Athletic Department as well as worked the 2014 NAIA Men’s Basketball Tournament.  He is now working as Assistant League Manager for Workforce Athletics and is a game-day intern with Stanford Athletics during the 2017 football season.  Reid’s plans after finishing the Master’s program are to work in collegiate athletics. This article is an edited version of a paper prepared for Dr. Michael M. Goldman’s Sport Marketing class at the University of San Francisco.

IImage by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame, "Notre Dame Stadium video board", Retrieved from