Roller Derby 2016, a look ahead


A facebook friend whom I have known for 6 years had an image come on his page which was from Key Arena in 2009, where the whole lower bowl was filled with 7000 fans for Roller Derby for the Rat City League.

It seems as though that was a high point for fan interest in games for most leagues.  Today many leagues have moved down in the size of the venues (and if they haven’t, they should check their average attendance and realize they are not in operation to pay high costs to venues), and are they really assessing the strength of their attraction to a paid audience.

Let me make a point here that always seem to be contentious to those who developed the modern flat track game.  I take no credit for what you have developed and have spread virtually worldwide.  In the past, I have been the subject of resentment (by a very few) because of my family’s creation of the banked track game.  I am sorry for that, but I think most know that I am only interested in the skaters and the success (however measured) of what they are doing.

I as a promoter and as a spectator really liked the game in 2009…obviously it has changed since then and, except in a few exceptional areas, attendance has declined. That should tell you more about the reality of the situation than anything else.  Once you open the doors and charge admission, you are in competition with all other forms of entertainment (whether you want to call it that or not), and what you present is how the public judges if it is worthwhile to spend their time and money there.

So there’s the rub; most of those who have entered the world of skating do so because it fills a special need in their lives and they enjoy it: “Roller Derby saved my soul”.  I would ask you evaluate your league and its objectives very realistically:  if what you are doing satisfies all the participants, then don’t go crazy try to make it a success as a paying sport…..obviously, you must get more dues-paying members and find other ways to fund.

Bob Noxious and I present a seminar annually at Rollercon, and we will address most of the problems you are facing….and not just on a marketing basis.  Bob has written some great features on Derby on the Community page on Brownpapertickets.com, including methods to promote, to gain new recruits, to operate as a business and more.  And obviously I have many years background in promoting Derby and other sports.

Look to the leagues that remain successful…what is the key to what they are doing. Communication is the key here; everyone should not feel she has to reinvent the wheel.

Derby is not going away….with over 1800 leagues in 58 countries, more men’s and junior leagues, it has a real foothold in the more than decade it was developed.  And we at Brown Paper Tickets will help in any way we can.  I am jerry@brownpapertickets.com.

One comment on “Roller Derby 2016, a look ahead

  1. I agree. It is very difficult to run derby as a business. I love to skate and just enjoy the competition and athleticism without having to think about marketing, sponsors, fans, venue, on and on.

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