Fundraisers could lose millions with less or no fans at Tennessee Titans games


Season on the Brink

NASHVILLE, Tenn., (WKRN) — The sound of 65,000 fans cheering on the Tennessee Titans inside Nissan Stadium may be cut in half this football season – if any at all – due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The possibility of no fans means the dozens of groups that hold fundraisers at games could also be in for a big loss.

“Everything being cancelled up til now has really hurt us, obviously. We’re used to having that money come in and generate, and now ya know, pre-season is done, so that’s awful,” said Brandie Paul, the softball coach at Martin Methodist College. Her team has worked concessions at every home game for the last 18 years.

“In the beginning of the season, it’s always awesome because everyone is excited, they’re pumped up, ready to roll, and then it dwindles if they have a little bit of a not good situation,” Paul added “But we never make under $2,000 a game.”

A nearly $100,000 loss of funds could be the outcome for the entire athletic program at Martin Methodist including baseball, bowling and the clay target team, according to Athletic Director Jeff Bain.

“The income that we bring in from the concessions and the merchandising, help supplement the operating budget for each sport. Our biggest expense annually is the travel that we incur with the teams. It helps underwrite our charter bus travel, and our operating budget for hotels and food,” Bain explained.

Teams and other groups raised nearly $2 million total working concession stands last year, according to a Titans spokesperson.

Others, like the American Cancer Society fear losing millions on their end in fundraising for a cure.

“The NFL as an organization sponsors a program called Crucial Catch, and the Tennessee Titans community division obviously plays a big roll in that across Tennessee. In 2019 we sponsored several Crucial Catch games across the state that raised over $20,000 dollars for us as an organization,” said Angela Stacy, the Regional Vice President for the North Central region of the American Cancer Society.

“Another aspect of the Titans is they provided in stadium messaging for us through that program, as well as game day collections. Last year their game day collections brought us $14,000 miles worth of van trips for cancer patients who need rides to care,” Stacy added.

In addition to their annual Stride walk at Nissan Stadium, Relay For Life events with high school and college football teams, and pink-out awareness games in October, they’re predicting a $200 million loss nationwide.

For all organizations alike, this means it is time to get creative with virtual fundraising. Hosting walking events and days of giving on social media is a starting line.

“We do have some players that are looking at doing some gaming for us. We have a space called ‘Gamers versus Cancer’ where we encourage folks in their favorite games to play livestream and raise money for us,” Stacy said.

They are also planning to host Stride and Relay for Life virtually.

Bain said the athletic program raised $30,000 grand in a digital day of giving last year, and he’s hoping they can raise a lot more this year.

The Titans themselves plan on having their regular community drive for each home game virtually. Partnering with RightGift, people can go online and donate items and supplies for any drives, sort of like a wedding registry.

It’s a season of change for football. From the NFL to high school, News 2 digs deeper into the impact COVID-19 is having on the game.
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