Designing for a Connected Stadium

Fans, teams, hirers and sponsors are all looking for constant connectivity at the stadium. What this means is the ability for all users to connect to local networks and the internet through Wi-Fi or DAS to their mobile devices. It requires a combination of smart design and smart technology and means taking into account all the different stakeholders and their respective needs. It calls for stadium designers to be aware not only of consumer behaviour and the fans’ technology habits, but also to consider the opportunities for hirers’, sponsors and advertisers to increase revenue streams.

We have to look beyond the game itself when considering how to design for a connected stadium because it’s now easier for the fan to stay at home and watch the game on the big screen. To entice the fan out of the living room we now look more broadly at a much wider range of experiences and opportunities – the new “smart system” of the stadium.

Designers should consider activation potential of places like the stadium Plaza. Hirers’ sponsors or advertisers will be willing to pay a premium for the activation opportunities these spaces present. A design which coupled with a digital approach allows brands to participate in a fan’s game day experience allows hirers to move away from simply selling “awareness” and “impressions” to fan-first solutions that drive engagement.    

Designers should be looking to design spaces that allow the Hirers to maximize the “live” event by deepening and extending the fan’s experience. This might include developing the spaces that could be used for providing pre and post-game entertainment, building the pre-game hype and then analysing the game once the final siren has sounded.

What are the “in game benefits” at the stadium? Once it’s on, the Stadium’s network has mutual benefits for the fan, advertiser, hirer and the Stadium Operator. In-seat ordering will enhance the operation of the stadium as well as providing relevant brands the benefit of integrating into the fan’s activities. Hirers are also investing heavily in the generation of content – stats, trivia and unique camera angles. It all opens up opportunities for a much richer fan experience.

Inside and outside the stadium, how can we create the greatest impact with screens? In order to maximize the viewing impact that IPTV screens might provide around various concourses, the designer might allow for several locations of video-wall clusters to key high density spaces, providing greater advertising opportunities as well as enhancing fan engagement.


Populous’ Smart System approach designed to link fans, venue owners, sponsors and hirers.

How “clean” can the stadium be? A clean stadium means each of the hirers can seamlessly replace their respective sponsors, which is particularly critical in a multipurpose venue. This flexibility can also extend to game day, meaning the hirer can segment the spaces according to audiences (e.g. interstate, international), or particular events (such as a National Day ceremony).

And of course a more connected stadium means looking to provide the greatest possible connectivity for all users through their mobile devices which also provides new opportunities for brands; connectivity that also broadens into hospitality and retail options as well. More on this particular aspect of the Connected Stadium can be found in Populous’ latest column on isportconnect “The Importance of Wi-Fi Access to the Stadium Experience”.

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