These days, fast and reliable Wi-Fi is no longer just a nice accessory to have, it’s essential to the fan experience in sports stadiums. Here’s what you need to know.
How do teams keep fans interested in going to games?
For many years, this question had an easy answer: if your team wins games, people will come.
Then television began to offer fans the ability to watch games from the comfort of their own homes, with drinks and bathrooms just steps away.
Other deterrents that threaten the matchday experience have also emerged, such as rising ticket prices and concessions and the management of unruly fans.
Over the past two years, COVID-19 has given a segment of sports fans who would normally attend sporting events a break.
Through all of these roadblocks, teams have another reason to worry about fan attendance: poor Wi-Fi connectivity.
For Andrew Snead, senior managing director of Delta Partners, a company that works with stadium teams to improve the fan experience, the threat of dwindling fan attendance is a priority for all facilities managers in charge. stadiums and large arenas.
“There are three key dimensions to consider with fan behavior, and how they consume their preferences changes and changes,” says Snead, who was part of a webcast, Smart Stadiums and Innovating the Fan Experience, hosted by BrightTalk. “We live in a world where there’s more and more competition for attention, whether it’s stay at home, gaming, esports, there are a lot of things vying for. the attention of the fans.
“Technology has helped change that. The smartphone and the general use of apps and internet technology have changed behaviors and shortened attention spans. Today, 90% of people who consume team sports, whether at home or at the stadium, do so while (with mobile phones). The second screen has become increasingly relevant to the experience.
Connectivity upgrades, such as the development of a 5G network and more private networks inside stadiums, as well as improved engagement opportunities, are important aspects of the fan experience , Snead said.
“An existential challenge for leagues and clubs is to try to stay relevant, whether it’s the NFL, MLB or major league football,” he says. “They need to create fan experiences to keep fans engaged and involved, and also figure out how to monetize them. In football clubs, they say if you can monetize every fan a dollar a year, that’s huge value creation.
Ali MacGregor of AECOM, a design and architecture firm specializing in smart, sustainable designs in places such as stadiums and arenas, says finding that blend of experiences between home and stadium continues to be a challenge.
“People are frustrated because you have these big concrete boxes, and how does that affect connectivity?” said MacGregor. “As designers, we need to provide at least the same level of connectivity to other forms of media in places, so you don’t compromise being at home. (The fans) should want to be there and spend the day, and at the same time engage as if they were at home with the same level of comfort and the same level of connectivity, but at the same time with their friends.
Even though a generation of people now struggles to remember a life without a mobile phone, solving the connectivity problem is a developing process.
“As a fan and as a space watcher, I think things are going slower than they should be,” Snead says.
Why is this transition taking longer than expected? Part of the reason is that stadiums are still evolving as to what they will look like in the future.
“One of the things you see is that teams want to create more space to socialize,” says Sam Chernak, senior vice president of complex solutions for Comcast. “As people less and less want to sit side-by-side in seats with strangers, or with the guy who drinks too much or shouts too loudly, more and more people who hold tickets are going to be in spaces more social or have access to lounges.”
One of the developments in future stadium renovation and design projects that managers will need to consider going forward is the impact of sports betting. As more states continue to legalize sports betting, stadiums are set to have automated kiosks and people taking bets during games at the counters. How this appetite is whetted for fans in stadiums could go a long way in determining how fans consume their sport in the future.
“Each stadium is going to have a sports book in the near future, or a big ticketing area for those who want it,” Chernak said. “All these physical renovations that are taking place, there is a whole reconfiguration of the facilities to take into account.
Of course, there’s more to the sports stadium experience than just better Wi-Fi, which makes it possible to build gaming apps and interact with other fans and family on Twitter and Facebook. Parking, concessions, and restrooms can also influence a consumer’s thoughts on whether to watch live or home games. Operations managers must constantly evaluate their offerings to satisfy customers, webinar panelists agreed.
“How do we help stadium operators and facility managers improve the fan experience? asks Keith Gornish of Machine Q, an Internet of Things solution provider. “It could go through access and data collection. Simple examples of this could be access and collecting data on how long do you stand in line to buy food, access goods? It’s simple things like the proliferation of smart bathrooms or the whole bathroom experience. By accessing this data, we are able to give operators and facility managers a perspective through which to look and make things more efficient. This allows fans to have a better experience overall.
Dave Lubach is editor for the Installs Market. He has over six years of experience writing articles on institutional and commercial facilities.