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The future of the fan experience

  • iSportConnect
  • November 07, 2012

With the access and availability of this technology the design thinking must elevate the focus toward more adaptive buildings that offer new social engagement platforms geared toward a comprehensive fan experience that is far more stimulating and accessible than simply watching the game on television. The process itself must become forward-looking and anticipate, rather than react, to the evolving needs of fans. While it’s difficult to predict where technology is headed and how the fan experience will be impacted, we continue to ideate toward what stadium design will encompass in the next 10 years and beyond. There are a number of trends that will emerge to define the fan experience, including:

• Augmented reality: The use of augmented reality has slowly started to make its way into the stadium experience. In 2011, Super Bowl viewers were able to pull up a 360 degree tour of Dallas Cowboys stadium, receive player stats and view playbacks from their mobile devices. As time progresses, this sophisticated technology will allow attendees at a game to be able to scan every aspect of the stadium with their smartphone allowing for a virtual roadmap leading to essential fan amenities such as concessions, clubs, and retail. The in-seat experience will be enhanced with fan access to realtime player statistics just by pointing their phone in the direction of a player, viewing such instantaneous information as the last play and speed of the ball , and creating a more interactive and engaged experience.

• Technology: The need for advanced technology will dictate the future of sports design. We now are not only thinking about how fans move around a facility, but how they engage with the facility and how the design can enhance this social experience. These interactive options, such as targeted mobile advertising during games and branded experiential locations throughout a stadium, also open up important revenue streams for teams that are invaluable.

• Options, options, options: The next generation of sports facilities will continue the rapid evolution to highly adaptive entertainment destinations with an experiential inventory for all fan segments. We’ll likely see more options that appeal to children and younger generations aimed to build essential fan loyalties that will ensure future viability, entertainment options other than the game (like at The Clevelander, a nightclub and pool in Marlins Park) and opportunities and rewards for connecting to social networks while in the stadium.

Over the next 10 years, we will continue to create more tangible ways for fans to engage with sports facilities. By taking them beyond being a spectator, we make fans active participants in shaping their social experience. The desire for connectivity is perhaps the most basic aspect of the human spirit and the powerful event when people come together to share a memorable experience is what every fan ultimately desires. We define our success when fans can sense a feeling of connectivity the moment they arrive at the venue and that intangible response is at the core of what keeps fans coming back– win or lose– time and again.

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