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TOGETHER BY DESIGN: Live sports has always been a demanding and unpredictable business — but isn’t that why we love it?

The modern sports business is staring at tougher competition than ever before – but just when it seems like attendance might be trending downward, somebody in our business finds the right magic and captivates audiences to come and experience again what they have to offer, as Dimensional Innovations investigated.

 

To gain insight on what key factors combine to make a winning combination, Dimensional Innovations (DI) interviewed twenty of the most influential people in North American professional sports and compiled the both insightful and candid themes from those conversations in this article. 

 

THE NEW NORMAL

As soon as fans arrive at the venue, a second competition is about to begin: the one for their attention. Interviewees generally agreed that we have permanently moved into a new era of how fans participate in live sports.

 

Yes, they seek additional experiences. Yes, they’re on their mobile devices. But beyond that, they physically don’t want to stay in their seats.

 

Not surprisingly, for millennial fans, this pattern of creating social-focused sports experiences and moving from place to place closely mirrors their online behaviour. Based on this information, the key question becomes: How do we tap into this cultural shift with its new motivation and energy? 

 

Identifying key revenue boosting opportunities is a smart place to start, as Justin Wood, Principal / Practice Director for Dimensional Innovations advises:

What partners now look for in a venue is a compelling reason to make people want to travel. We want circulation because it increases our chances our guests make an additional purchase.

 

Across the board, in new and renovated venues, fans report enjoying the experience much more where teams have invested in different zones with different appeal, which is crucial in getting the repeat visit.

 

Infographic supporting the new normal

 

SEGMENTATION

Segmentation within a venue makes sense. You don’t have one fan, you have a variety of fans with a wide range of preferences and expectations. Below are three useful concepts Dimensional Innovation’s distilled down from their interviews on how to think about segmentation:

 

CONCEPT 01. NEIGHBOURHOODS

The concept of neighbourhoods has become a permanent facet of the venue experience, and teams across the country are continually improving their approach in developing hyper-targeted gathering spaces.

 

The neighbourhood idea gains even more momentum with the evolution of the ‘new normal’ game-viewing style.

 

If we can’t get people to stay in their seats, let’s design for it. By building spaces that are authentically tied to their community, and capitalising on fan mobility, we open up opportunities to attract repeat business and expand to a new and younger audience fan base.

 

CONCEPT 02. EXCLUSIVE + INCLUSIVE

Experiences drive the economy and the more exclusive they feel, the more people will pay. However, the need still remains for large attendance and revenue. While these ideas seem at odds, together they form a powerful combination: there’s an experience you can only get at the venue (exclusive) – but anybody can have it (inclusive).

 

CONCEPT 03. ADAPTATION

By weaving digital layers into the design of venues, we create spaces that can instantly transform to suit the needs of different audiences.

 

By focusing on intelligent design, each component becomes adaptable in application. For example, installation of the right kinds of building blocks with digital signage and responsive lighting, can enhance fan experience but produce custom content based on the guests attending.

 

The Gullwing Club at Mercedes-Benz Stadium

 

TECHNOLOGY

Speaking to technology in only one section is an inherent over-simplification – there’s infrastructure, entertainment, app-based utilities and data capture that could all have their own articles. Regardless, we are excited  to cover the subject, and over-simplification is in fact, consistent with the perspective we heard on the topic.

 

Primarily, technology must work quickly in order to satisfy users. Coupled with speed, adaptability becomes key when operating against an ever-changing onslaught of new advances. When done right, the technology is just an added subtle layer that makes your physical experience even greater.

 

Every business today has to guard against irrelevance, and sports are no different. Technology has the power to become a force multiplier for your venue and fan data is the best crystal ball we’ve got. And if we’re smart, we capture it while enhancing their experience.

 

365 DAYS A YEAR

If people are “always on” and forever-connected, shouldn’t their teams be?

 

To accommodate the need for expansion of the team product offering, Dimensional Innovations have developed the Mixed Use Solar System model. As teams move into real estate development, we compare a team property to the Sun – a power supply with the primary gravitational force. Complimentary to its power, however, this centre is surrounded by a plethora of other attractive amenities  revolving around it to create a full system.

 

A successful example of this concept is proven through strategic planning and development of the Battery Atlanta and SunTrust Park in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. With over 20 restaurants and bars, 12 retail locations, 6 entertainment venues and 6 corporate office spaces, their real estate is fully operational and attractive to Braves fans year-round. By creating bars, gathering spaces and restaurants as new destinations, we redefine what the fan experience is and evolve with a new trend.

 

Atlanta Braves’ fans enjoying some selfie-time at SunTrust Park

 

VENUES OF THE FUTURE: ESPORTS AND GAMBLING

Esports is rightfully getting a lot of buzz with a massive and growing number of participants. Most prolifically, we are seeing heavy participation in the NBA based on the massive success of NBA 2K. With over 1,136,687 of watch time and 129 hours of network broadcast airtime, it’s impossible to ignore the impact that esports is making.

 

Alex Divine, Account Director for Dimensional Innovations and key team member in the development of the T-Wolves Gaming League facility, spoke to the emergence of esports and noted that:

At the end of the day, this is about attention. If people weren’t talking or focused on video games and esports, no one would care. This is about creating a sustainable brand and growing with where attention is moving.

 

In addition to outfitting venues for an esports emergence, professional sports gambling and betting is becoming a popular component to modern-day professional sports, based on individual state legislation. While the concept is new, creating “brick-and-mortar” spaces will become essential to accommodate for a pending insurgence of gambling. At its core, creating areas where arenas can facilitate the process for gaming will become an opportunity to attract new audiences and generate revenue.

 

Additionally, there are multiple facets of the current betting process that can be enhanced with technological updates. Digital displays of money changing lines, real-time odds and automated transactions are just a few we see becoming game-changers. All these things must be taken into consideration in light of new laws, and preparing arenas to accommodate for these changes will help increase relevance in the professional sports world.

 

Wood said in conclusion:

We hope that you were able to glean new insight and inspiration from what we’ve compiled; whether it be renovations on existing facilities or simply creating a new space for fans, our goal is to help our partners think strategically and stay ahead of industry trends. 

 

To learn more about Dimensional Innovations or get a copy of the research conducted, go to: dimin.com or email Justin Wood at: jwood@dimin.com

 

Main image (top): Viking Voyage at U.S. Bank Stadium

 

ALSD International – Europe’s one and only event dedicated to the Premium/VIP Seat & Hospitality sector – is coming to Croke Park Stadium this October, where speakers from across Europe and North America, including Dimensional Innovations Justin Wood, will be providing insights on how to increase revenues through new builds, renovations and service expansions, as well as via the latest F&B and technology offerings.

 

 

#ALSDInternational – Europe’s leading event dedicated to the Premium/VIP Seat & Hospitality sector

 

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