It seems to me that there are a few common types of fans that attend sporting events: traditionalist die-hards, new-age die-hards, families, and casual fans. These segments are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but each group has distinct preferences. Despite that, I believe there are a few simple ways teams and properties could do a better job appeasing the needs of these different fans without annoying the other groups.
Below is a description of each type of fan, along with suggestions for how to serve that segment:
Traditionalist die-hard fans are people who only care about the actual sporting event, and possibly bare-bones elements like replays, hot dogs, soda or beer, the seats, and clean bathrooms. The best way to please traditionalist fans is to make sure that any entertainment elements during game-play or event-action do not detract or distract from the event itself. Make sure scoreboard elements are relevant at the times they’re shown, and make it easy for these fans to find information they are most likely to want, such as injury updates, lineup/player changes, replays and highlights, and basic statistics. Also, make sure the concession items that sell the most are consistently high-quality.
New-age diehard fans are similar to traditional fans, but may be interested in fantasy sports, advanced statistics, and technologically-enhanced experiences. They are similarly interested in following the game or event closely, but also are interested in using technology and/or statistics to enhance their experience. To appeal to these fans, identify places in the venue where advanced and/or fantasy statistics can be displayed, and make it easy for fans to find more statistics online or via an app than are available in the stadium. Also, provide wi-fi, strong cellphone service, and charging stations so fans can connect to sources of additional information.
Families who attend games may be comprised of some combination of the other types of fans, but their primary concerns tend to be entertainment, depending on how young their children are, security (especially related to fighting and vulgarity), food, and facilities (specifically, bathrooms and seats). These fans appreciate kid-friendly foods, fun entertainment on the field, and activities/games in the concourse, which are all elements that properties or teams should try to provide. To appease both families and die-hard fans, ensure that non-game-related entertainment happens during breaks in play or at times where the die-hard fans will not find it intrusive. Also, teams and properties should make it easy for parents to bring in everything required for young children, especially if the event is billed as being a family-friendly event.
Finally, security issues are also important when catering to families – especially vulgarity, fighting, and drunken behavior. Consider either providing one or more designated family sections, or training staff to closely monitor behavior.
Casual fans are generally less interested in the game or event and more interested in the entirety of the experience – the entertainment, the food, and the social atmosphere. They are more receptive to entertainment elements – t-shirt tosses, bands, on-screen games, and interactive experiences like the wave – and they appreciate having places around the concourse to congregate and socialize with others outside of their seating area. These could be bars or restaurants, but don’t necessarily have to be.
These simple suggestions can help sports teams and properties create experiences that different types of fans can enjoy