SportBusiness International

Analysis and insight for the global sports business

Towards the Connected Stadium

Towards the Connected Stadium

Published date:
16 Apr 2015
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Operators of stadiums and other sports venues are upping their game by implementing technology that provides an experience on a par with, or exceeding, that which armchair fans get at home. This report takes a rounded look at the rapidly-evolving sector, profiling innovation among world-leading sports brands who are making pioneering investments in the latest technology, as well as looking at strategies that work for operators of smaller venues and lower-tier sports.

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Article
16 Apr 2015

Operators of stadiums and other sports venues are upping their game by implementing technology that provides an experience on a par with, or exceeding, that which armchair fans get at home. This report takes a rounded look at the rapidly-evolving sector, profiling innovation among world-leading sports brands who are making pioneering investments in the latest technology, as well as looking at strategies that work for operators of smaller venues and lower-tier sports.

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Report Content
16 Apr 2015

Providing access to the internet for stadium-going sports fans is not the goal of connected stadium developments. Challenging a venue operator to answer the questions ‘Why install Wi-Fi?’ and ‘How will it change our approach to audience engagement?’ will indicate where the goals really lie. The primary objective is usually a very simple one: ‘We want to engage with our fan base.’

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16 Apr 2015

Fans at sports stadia are not just downloading video or browsing the internet. They are updating and publishing text, photos and video to social networks. There’s as much, if not more, traffic going upstream as there is going downstream. Clubs need to play this to their advantage by facilitating this desire to engage with the club and letting fans act as social ambassadors for their brand.

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16 Apr 2015

Sports marketing agencies and consultancies make it their job to understand venue attendances and build key performance indicators based on, for example, the total number of visits per season, peak visits from fans, and season-ticket-holder visits versus season tickets sold. On the face of it, there is an incremental opportunity presented by building connectivity into a venue to convert existing customer data into retail sales and push certain customer groups toward sponsors.

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16 Apr 2015

The key to innovation in fan engagement is to identify where value can be delivered to enhance the fan experience. Hospitality and airline executives have been measuring customer engagement for years by creating unique experiences to increase loyalty to brands. This is a critical component sports rights-holders and venues must master to keep fans in seats. In this chapter we discuss the role of stadium apps and of linking to social media in sports venues.

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16 Apr 2015

Is improved fan engagement through in-stadia connectivity a luxury that only the elite can afford? The Norwegian Professional Football League (NPFL) has implemented Wi-Fi across all of its 16 clubs’ stadia, despite many of these only achieving average attendances of 3,000 to 4,000. Average seating capacity across the stadia is 9,000, led by Rosenborg with 21,000.

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16 Apr 2015

Speedway Motorsports Inc (SMI) owns and operates eight major motor racing circuits in the US, including Atlanta Motor Speedway; Infineon Raceway in Sonoma; Kentucky Speedway; and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Last autumn, it struck a five-year deal with sports and entertainment technology company Sporting Innovations to upgrade mobile technology at each track.

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16 Apr 2015

The base level for connected stadia has been the delivery of video content and messaging to big screens and LCD or LED TV sets in concourses, bars and hospitality areas. While many elite clubs will have upgraded their stadia TV systems over the last five years, and merged their audiovisual and IT departments, it is remarkable how quickly most stadia have been left behind.

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16 Apr 2015

Football is relatively unusual in its non-stop action. In two periods of 45 minutes, the action is generally unrelenting, and failure to keep your eyes on the pitch can mean missing a crucial moment. The same is true, incidentally, of second screen activity at home where viewers can feel annoyed with the second screen service if they are distracted by it from key moments happening live on the main screen.

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16 Apr 2015

Clubs and stadia should ask what they want to achieve from adopting a multi-platform distribution strategy before any investment in technology. There are many new revenue streams that can be generated by ‘connecting’ stadia and offering exclusive content. Clubs should have a clear idea of what they want to gain by delivering content to fans.

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16 Apr 2015

Twickenham, the home of the England rugby union team, has undergone a £76m (€105m/$113m) upgrade since 2013 to be ready for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The stadium hosts many different events, but the primary aims of the upgrades are to improve fan experience and to ensure the stadium continues to be fit to be the home of England rugby.

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16 Apr 2015

Taking UK football stadia as a benchmark, new stadium builds of 30,000-seat capacity can expect a high-density Wi-Fi install to cost between £300,000 (€414,000/$447,000) and £400,000. In older stadia of similar size, the installation work could double in price to over £600,000. At older, larger stadia such as Old Trafford (76,000), the cost could easily top £1m.

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16 Apr 2015

A lot depends on a good design. The appropriate capacity (number of APs) must be specified to handle the number of devices expected to connect concurrently. According to Xirrus, the design should be over-provisioned to not only handle regular usage but peak scenarios, as well as considering growing usage over time. A good design also considers appropriate placement of APs and types of antennas used.

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16 Apr 2015

Installing Wi-Fi one stand at a time is an option for testing purposes. English Premier League club Liverpool deployed a first phase of Xirrus Wi-Fi in 2013 to cover the two-tier, 12,000-seat Centenary Stand, plus adjoining corporate facilities. At Liverpool’s Anfield stadium, deployment has since been extended to cover other areas. Stadium- wide Wi-Fi will probably be installed as part of a £260m redevelopment scheme now underway.

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16 Apr 2015

The 4G networks which are expected to cover more than a third of the global population by the end of 2015 (according to industry body GSMA) will boost, if not solve entirely, the problem of weak mobile network reception in stadia. As rollout becomes ubiquitous, which it is expected to be across the UK by 2016, and as more 4G handsets come to market, there is an argument to suggest that additional infrastructure in venues may not be necessary. Network operators may cover venues as part of their 4G rollout.

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16 Apr 2015

Technology from UK firm TribeHive has a unique solution to the problem of poor Wi-Fi network connectivity in crowded places. Its Digital Stadium app allows individual smartphone apps connected to a Wi-Fi network to crowd-share data bandwidth by building another network directly between smartphones, and using it to distribute information.

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16 Apr 2015

Wembley Stadium is one of the world’s most iconic sports venues. Owned by the FA, and run through its subsidiary Wembley National Stadium Ltd, it hosts 30-40 major events annually for 2m visitors, ranging from major football finals like the Uefa Champions League and the FA Cup; to boxing contests; to the NFL’s London games; as well as music concerts. It competes for event business on the world stage with the premier league of stadia and has set itself the goal of being the most connected by 2016.

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