For most Americans, Sunday is for watching football. If you’re not at the game – and many of us usually aren’t – you’re probably catching the action on TV while scrolling through your news feed from your comfy couch and checking out friends’ game-related posts and photos on Facebook, Instagram, etc.
Properties in all of the “Big Five” leagues are in a full-out battle to make the actual, live at-event experience superior to the at-home viewing experience, but it’s a struggle. Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL, conceded as such years ago, noting “We have to bring technology to our stadiums and make that experience better.”
Yes, the at-home experience has become a tough one to beat. However, some properties are now actively facilitating and encouraging an on-site experience that incorporates (and improves on) the social and digital components that at-home viewers already enjoy, all while utilizing top-notch technology to attract share-happy fans eager to publicize their own experiences online. Below are a few teams that are upping their technological game when it comes to fan experience.
The Atlanta Falcons have partnered with IBM to build Mercedes-Benz Stadium (scheduled to open in 2017). The new stadium will feature new technology throughout, including “a 360-degree, 63,000-square foot HD Video Halo Board surrounding the stadium and more than 2,000 video displays, and an advanced fiber-based optical network to ensure connectivity for fast, reliable WiFi, video displays and digital signage.” Can’t get that on your couch!
The Sacramento Kings new arena (the Golden 1 Center), set to open in 2016, will include mobile applications for check-in, navigation to your seat, and in-seat wireless charging, so Instagramming fans won’t have to worry about running out of battery.
The Detroit Pistons are in the process of replacing all of the seats at The Palace of Auburn Hills with seating that will be able to communicate with fans’ mobile devices by way of near-field communications (NFC) technology. This will allow those using the seat to easily order concessions, receive special merchandise offers, and participate in contests, and more.
Having smarter arenas will enable teams to connect with fans, gather rich data, and provide a more customized experience. It will soon be the rule, not the exception, to use an app throughout your entire driveway-to-driveway gameday experience: to find the best parking spot, upgrade your seats on-site, order food for in-seat delivery, watch replays from different views, find the closest restroom with the shortest line, order customized merchandise with a click, and identify the fastest way out of the stadium parking lot and through traffic. But be ready – these smart arenas may outsmart YOU right off the couch and into the stands!