Deciding to invest in your stadium comes with inherent risks: some impacting finances and some impacting reputation.
New builds and renovation projects around the world, such as the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, the Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park, New National Stadium in Japan and the Motera Cricket Stadium, involve tens (or hundreds) of millions of dollars invested in top-to-bottom upgrades.
Behind every new build or renovation, however, is an underlying list of priorities that needs to be followed in order to ensure ROI and fan satisfaction:
- Amenities and services that address the needs of fans
- Technology that supports once-in-a-lifetime, interactive experiences
- Protection against cybersecurity threats
- Futureproof infrastructure that can support tens of thousands of devices and users
- The ability to support fan engagement after an event
Today’s stadium investments include initiatives that will let venues monetize beyond the game: In other words, they’re finding ways to bring in additional revenue and hedge against potential future costs.
No. 1: Gather Actionable Analytics
By integrating sensor technology into network-connected devices, whether it’s IP cameras, lighting fixtures or temperature controls, you’ll capture valuable data that can be used to make real-time decisions to improve the venue experience.
For example, by capturing information about which foods, beverages and fan gear are selling the fastest at a sporting event – and comparing that data to food, beverage and fan gear sales during a concert – you can make better decisions about vendor selection, variety, prices, quantities and even pedestrian traffic flow.
Using consumer behavior information can expand beyond your property, too. Using sensors to gather data that helps you better understand buying patterns of season ticket holders can help you create targeted marketing messages sent to consumers on behalf of event sponsors. When you have solid data that reflects a direct connection between the revenue generated from a venue sponsorship and consumer purchases at the venue, you’ll impress your sponsors and be able to prove the value of advertising and sponsorship.
No. 2: Secure Your Cyber Environment
When you think about venue security, don’t forget that true security requirements a stadium investment beyond physical solutions like access control, facial recognition and surveillance.
Cyber threats can pose serious financial and operational risks. These risks can come in the form of data or financial theft, operational disruption or even potential injury (if, for example, a bad actor is able to access your network and temporarily shut down lighting or security systems).
Stadiums may not be as frequently targeted as often as other types of organizations, but cyber threats are a growing concern. In 2018, the opening of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics was delayed due to a cyberattack that temporarily compromised technology systems, shutting down displays and wireless service while also intercepting website access to prevent attendees from printing their tickets.
As more devices connect wirelessly to your network, it’s crucial to invest in cybersecurity to prevent that same situation from happening to you, fans, players and vendors. If internet access suddenly goes down, what does that mean for the guests who have mobile tickets and pay via credit cards? The security systems that connect to the network? The vendors that track inventory in the cloud?
Cybersecurity policies and procedures should also extend to your vendors. By ensuring that their systems are secure and compliant with your own systems and networks, you’ll decrease the opportunity for hackers to gain access.
No. 3: Promote Fan Engagement Inside & Outside
Stadium connectivity is critical for fan engagement. Without it, fans can’t communicate (with people inside or outside the venue), stream 4K content, interact with fantasy leagues in real time or create personalized experiences. Today, things like augmented reality, selecting between different camera angles and the ability to view player stats instantaneously take game day to a whole new level.
Major League Baseball is using augmented reality that allows fans to “follow” players around the bases or across the field – from their seats – by holding their personal devices toward the field. You can see the player’s picture, real-time data and even video of famous plays. This technology can also give fans the opportunity to interact with stats and data, pinpointing optimal conditions for a stolen base or specific type of pitch.
High-speed connections and high bandwidth levels allow fans to do just that: stream content, engage with interactive content, post photos and share their experiences on social media wherever and whenever they want. When this wireless coverage extends to the retail, entertainment and residential areas outside the venue, it creates an even more engaging environment.
Stadiums and arenas are no longer standalone venues. It’s not just about catching the big game, but also enjoying unique and fun experiences in and around the venue. After a game, for example, nearby restaurants can send nearby fans access to exclusive deals via their mobile phones.
No. 4: Futureproof Infrastructure
In your race to the top, amenities and experiences – supported by futureproof infrastructure – are what set stadium investments apart.
In order monetize your venue through fan engagement, cybersecurity and analytics, you need a future-ready cabling and connectivity infrastructure in place that supports today’s high-tech advances, as well as whatever technology developments emerge down the road.
Forward-thinking stadiums that have this infrastructure in place will make these monetization initiatives happen – attracting other like-minded organizations that want to develop and invest in the area. High-tech, forward-thinking organizations want to be associated with initiatives that are just as progressive as they are.
Belden and its brands, including Grass Valley, ThinkLogical and Tripwire, are well positioned to help you bring high-risk, high-cost stadium investments to life – and reap the rewards.
Our relationships and experiences help venues of all kinds monetize beyond the game through things like scalability, support of today’s shifting technology and future-ready infrastructure that will back whatever you – and your fans – want to do.
Want to learn more? Visit www.belden.com/solutions/enterprise/stadiums-venues.
Since first joining the Belden team in 2005, Elizabeth Stephan has worked closely with large venues and Fortune 1,000 clients. With a background in working with stadiums and arenas, she helps some of Belden’s key clients invest in the right broadcast, AV and network infrastructure to support emerging technologies and applications. She helps professionals in the entertainment market ensure that they’ll be ready to provide unforgettable fan experiences.