Case Study

Greater Columbus Sports Commission, Audience Engagement

The Context

The Greater Columbus Sports Commission aims to transform Columbus, Ohio into one of the country’s top sports destinations. The organization relies on sports marketing and event management expertise to attract sporting events appealing to residents and visitors alike. They wanted to learn more about why fans spend disposable income on live sporting events and how they learn about these events.

The Critical Questions

What are the key beliefs, emotions, and behaviors that motivate purchasing admission to local sporting events? And more specifically, what are the most effective marketing channels for promoting major live sporting events, like the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship?

Our Solution

We conducted two focus groups with residents of Central Ohio, one with Millennials and another with Generation Xers. Every person had recently purchased tickets to a sporting event and at least one other live event. Participants discussed why they enjoy watching sporting events live, their level of interest in attending live sporting events, and how best to increase awareness about events like these.


Researchers learned how to most effectively promote the championship-level sporting events to those who may be interested in attending, as well as other interesting and useful insights into why people love attending live sporting events.


The NCAA Division I Volleyball Championship was a success, bringing an estimated $10 million in spending to Central Ohio and setting the second highest all-time attendance record for the event. The focus group results continue to be referenced by the Sports Commission as it continues its efforts to attract sporting events to Central Ohio.