When it comes to stadium management, there are areas in which technology has a decisive impact. In fact, improvements have already been shown in operational capacity, safety, commercial use, experience, and social media. Smart stadiums open up great possibilities such as VR, AR, and holograms, which may be a significant paradigm shift and such a useful resource to attract and convince new generations.
Improvements can be seen with the information provided to the attendees on available parking spots and the location of the main gates through mobiles phones and biometric facial recognition. In every case, they reduce the fans’ waiting time. Other examples can be the location and the use of restrooms and hospitality zones, where the staff’s interaction comes down to welcoming.
Health and Personal Safety
Contact-free systems improve health safety—one of today’s musts—and can be an additional advantage to keep for the future. Besides, access through recognition or mobile phones make it possible to monitor each attendee and the number of spectators. In case of contingencies, this allows concerted actions along with better response times and greater efficiency of the stadium costs when all this data is correctly analysed.
Technology allows measuring the impact of actions and monetisation. A way to carry this out is through the smart stadium itself, which is designed to improve the experience. Thanks to it, attendance gets easier and commercial and entertainment information becomes more accessible. It can also generate income directly, improving the ticket box, promotions, and suggestions for fans.
For example, the empty seats near the point of sales where fans bought on the day of the event or the shop-in-shop offering specific merchandising in case of buying at the official shop. Pop-up advertisements for the places which have been renovated—especially the location of the best ones—and real-time promotions of the game events are also included. By just ordering directly and paying from the phone, a reduction of waiting times is facilitated, thus increasing sales.
There are two other ways to monetise which are also benefiting from this situation: sponsoring due to an increase in content download and quality, and bets owing to the possibilities offered by real-time decisions.
This increase and the value of commercial interaction is the key factor which technology offers in pursuit of income generation. Data collected allows examining the consumers’ likes, preferences and profiles. When the information is analysed by an AI algorithm, customised experience in the stadium and greater efficiency in the management of loyalty programmes is made possible.
Thanks to the low network latency of 5G, all of the stadium applications can offer more content, such as real-time statistical data on the players’ performance, action replays or even videos made by the club, thus improving the current experience substantially. For this purpose, more audio-visual coverage and promotions inside the stadium will be necessary —two aspects which still need more development.
Social Media and New Fans
In order for today’s fans to share their experience, technology must be present—it is an intrinsic part of their DNA indeed. For them, it is common to communicate globally, permanently, and interactively, as well as to be an active part of the event and share every part of what is taking place. Smart stadiums meet this demand, but they also allow increasing social media visibility of clubs, improving their brand value and that of the stadium itself.
The benefit of attracting this new generation—the immediate core target—also has an impact on the social media visibility of the brands associated with the clubs, whose presence in events is noticeable. This actually leads to an increase in the brand value of clubs and their stadiums.
VR, AR & Holograms
These three lines of development cast suspicion that a definitive change of era is about to occur, although it is difficult to state whether this change is around the corner or will take some years.
VR and AR will definitely allow an immersive experience which will make a difference. For example, being part of the teams on the field or witnessing a meet-and-greet event with the star of the game on your birthday week.
The journey may be pioneering and lead to places which are still difficult to picture. And if imagination is linked to holograms, there would be no hindrance to clubs owning more than one stadium (in Beijing, Tokyo, and New Delhi) and virtually broadcasting their matches there while being played in their usual grounds— without making the experience less valuable than that of the attendees, of course.
All these advances should not be the reason to disregard a present reality. After all, technology is not an income-generating option yet. It is a fact that it produces positive results thanks to its interaction with other business areas and improves fan experience and safety. However, when making right decisions to keep on running the venue project, it is essential to bear in mind the current possibilities of creating and monetising value. In fact, the success of any smart stadium will entirely depend on it.