NFL Renovations for the Future

The NFL fan experience is evolving and no one can deny it. According to a 2012 survey by ESPN.com, only 29% of NFL fans prefer to watch the game in person at a stadium, compared to 41% in 1998. Why you ask? There are more NFL fans than ever before with more access points- including television, the internet, smartphones and tablets. To be a fan, you don’t have to have season tickets, you simply have to have internet access. While this accessibility has allowed the NFL to reach a record-high popularity, it has also left architects, stadium managers and owners exploring how we can entice fans to return to the stadium.

Now, we’re taking our cues from what fans enjoy most about the in-home experience – the unparalleled accessibility to information and the comfort factor – and finding ways to transform the stadium experience accordingly.

A number of NFL stadiums have recently undergone large-scale renovations, with the primary focus of these being creating an experience that is intimate, driven by access to technology and other fans and in turn, provides clear value for the ticket price. Populous has taken this issue on, leading innovative renovations that are reshaping the experience of attending an NFL game. There are a number of ways we’re accomplishing this, most of which fall under one of the following categories:

1. Fan engagement
The evolving expectations of fans are undoubtedly at the core of innovation in the NFL. When fans reach the stadium, how do we capture their attention? How do we ensure their experience is as comfortable as it would be at home? What opportunities can we offer fans who attend a game that they simply wouldn’t get? We’re answering these concerns by exploring ways to provide fans in the stadium with exclusive content and access. We’re also planning for bigger scoreboards and videoboards with clearer pictures. We’ve improved the WiFi availability within stadiums so fans can stream content constantly and share their experience all without losing track of their fantasy football team. In addition, we’ve created smaller neighborhoods of seats within the stadium, ensuring that fans feel they are part of something more intimate. From loge boxes to club seating, there are more options to keep fans coming back.

2. Technology
Technology and the way that the modern fan engages with the game socially has played a crucial role in the decisions we make when renovating an NFL stadium. We’re not just planning for current technology…we are planning for where technology will be 5, 10 and 15 years down the road. We anticipate in the years to come social engagement, using outlets like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc., will be increasingly important. Fans will expect to be able to share their tweets, videos and photos in real time and have them displayed in the stadium. In addition, virtual reality and access to stats and data that users at home don’t have will further differentiate the stadium experience.

3. Social gathering spaces
By repurposing currently under-utilized areas of the stadium, we can create unique experiences that rival and exceed what you may get at home. This is done in a variety of ways, but most prominently by creating social gathering spaces, branded environments, various premium seating options and engaging sponsor access points. These social gathering spaces become experiences in themselves functioning as destinations within the destination. This may include a full-service sports bar with clear sightlines and a close proximity to the field or a technology hub, where fans can stop in and check stats, plug in their phones, browse the web and monitor other games all without losing site of the game in front of them.

Populous is working with our NFL clients to find innovative ways to give unparalleled access to fans and create experiences that will not only rival the in-home experience but exceed the expectations of the modern fan. Whether through branded social gathering spaces or the integration of the latest technology, we’re creating destinations that make the in-stadium experience something worth leaving the house for.

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