How Data is Transforming Collegiate Venues

March 28, 2018 / Sherri Privitera

Drawing alumni and students to games is no longer as simple as providing fans a seat, a hot dog and a soda. What fans want deep down – shareable moments – hasn’t changed much over the years, but their preferences in how they want to share those in-venue experiences changes constantly. With this in mind, we teamed up with Nielsen Sports for an exclusive exploration of the modern game day experience. By connecting with a vast cross-section of fans, the data that was gathered offers an in-depth look at the way fans want to experience a venue. In turn, Populous uses these insights to drive more effective, efficient designs catered to the needs and wants of fans.

Did you know nearly half of fans visited a bar or restaurant before entering a venue and one in four visited one after the event? This insight combined with fans’ desire for more diverse experiences depicts a two-fold opportunity for universities: draw more fans to a venue earlier and entice them to stay later with new social spaces. Colorado State University responded to these evolving preferences with the New Belgium Porch, a locally-branded, multi-use space in their new football stadium which welcomes game day and non-game day visitors throughout the year.

But what about families? A majority of prospective students choose their favorite school years before they apply to college. Giving families in-venue space to call their own allows universities to begin building a relationship with the next-generation. This drove us to understand how we can impact the family experience through design. The research revealed play areas are the most requested family amenity – and respondents are willing to pay $130 extra per ticket for it. As a result, we’re exploring concepts with clients like family lounge spaces providing flexible play space for kids and a view to the action for adults.

Research also shows fans crave a more premium in-venue experience. More than half of all surveyed fans are interested in unique, VIP-caliber experiences. Venues can accommodate these needs by creating exclusive clubs which offer up-close and personal views of the players. Social spaces with glass-walled player tunnels cater to this interest at some professional venues, most recently with the renovations at Arrowhead Stadium. This trend has begun to make its way into collegiate football, and will be included in the upcoming University of Missouri Memorial Stadium south end zone expansion project. The new end zone will feature an exclusive club which provides fans with intimate views of the team during their ceremonial field entrance on game days. New VIP-caliber social spaces like these player tunnel clubs open new, premium revenue streams for universities and satisfy fans’ demands for unique experiences.

Today’s fans need more from their venues than the simple food and beverage options and general admission seating which once drew them to games. Data has unlocked a direct way for universities to tailor amenities to the very people who use them to keep venues full for generations to come.

For more on how Populous designs with data, visit


Meet the author

Sherri Privitera

Senior Principal, Senior Architect / Kansas City


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *