As a kid, my dad and I would visit the Metrodome to watch
the Minnesota Vikings play. The stadium didn’t offer much in the way of a fan
experience aside from being blown out of the door at the exit. My dad would
watch the games with ear buds, listening to the color commentary on his
transistor radio. That was about 30 years ago -- the first image I have of a multi-media experience.
Today, expectations are on a whole new level at a stadium or
sporting event. The best stadiums deliver a customized fan experience and differentiate themselves, their teams
and their other clientele based on it. At the Daytona
Speedway, you can listen to the driver/crew communications at an auto race.
You can vote for your favorite All-Stars through a team app at Citi
Field. You can access the odds, the online store, player profiles and
replays not shown on the big screen at Bank
of America Stadium. You want to order drinks delivered to your seat or know
how long the wait is in the line for your favorite stadium snack? That’s got to
be available at one of these or other venues, too.
Now imagine all the eyes of the world on ONE stadium, or one large sporting
event. As the Summer Games approach, expectations on communications networks have
skyrocketed even from four years ago. Communications
systems are extending their fan experiences to millions of connected consumers
not only watching programs on television but also through social media. Thousands
of media outlets expect their photos and film instantly shared and digested
with their followers. Fans also expect to share their experiences with their
own networks. Last year, a study
by GlobalWebIndex reported that fans will watch as many as four hours of
coverage online via laptop, PC or tablet.
And, more than half of fans report using their mobile phones to watch via a second screen.
How can stadiums handle this casino-like
hospitality? They’re now designed like the smartest
of cities. Stadiums are built like a microcosm of a community - with solid
transportation infrastructure, amenities, sustainable energy systems like solar
and water reclamation, and data security and communications. That doesn’t even
include all of the intelligence to
manage all of the back-of-house functions to accommodate and optimize the
next digital, data-driven needs of fans around the globe. We may be paying a
lot more to be a part of that exclusive, on-site experience, but our demands
match it. Generally the experience is a win-win for everyone.