And just like that, we’re once again winding down another year and making our New Year’s resolutions

Thanks to our awesome clients, our partners and our friends for making 2016 one to remember. As we look ahead to 2017, we’ll be watching the following fan experience trends.

1. Social Environments in Stadiums

The game day experience is no longer just grabbing some popcorn and sitting in your seat for the entire game. Fans today want to work their way through the venue and spend time in multiple locations. A fan may meet up with all of their friends in a private deck space, head off to the hall of fame as play on the field slows, then challenge their friends in an interactive fan zone and make a final trip to try a brat burger before returning to their seat. Stadiums will continue to respond to fans desire to be physically close to the game, but not tethered to a single seating option. Striking a balance between a fun, yet safe party atmosphere while still allowing the fan to be 100% focused on the field play at any given time is a challenge. As teams reduce the amount of basic seating to address these modern fans, design must adapt, and fit-form-function becomes absolutely critical to operations and revenue. Teams and sponsors seeking to innovate beyond the sign on the outfield wall are aligning to create on-premise brand engagement destinations. Media lounges, fantasy sports spaces, tech-infused retail, and craft beer gardens are the flavor of the day.

2. Game-Changing Technology Redefining Sports

How many times have you heard that technology will be a game-changer? Well, 25+ years into the revolution we have indeed seen how tech changes the game – and the game-day experience. Better Wi-Fi access, beacons, RFID tracking, and virtual reality experiences are all improving the fan experience. As the pace of innovation accelerates, the time between early-adoption and being too late to the game is now less than a year. However, technology is also distracting fans from the live action on the field and on the court. For some, their fantasy team is just as important, if not more important, than their hometown club. Additionally, e-sports is poised to give traditional sports stiff competition for millennial dollars. Stadium operators and facility managers will make changes that appeal to these newcomers, such as fantasy zones, while society redefines “sport.”

3. Stadall–The New Stadium and Mall Combination

Operating a multi-billion dollar stadium for eight to twelve large events a year isn’t economically feasible and taxpayers are becoming mindful of this. Several new stadiums and arenas are pushing the boundaries of flexible architectural features and technology to enable them to host a variety of sporting and live events. Creating a mixed-use development to serve as a year-round destination, and being cognizant to urban planning within a neighborhood is the new modus operandi. This presents a challenge for sponsors to be more creative and adaptable to diverse and changing audiences as well. Technology is often a great way to help branded spaces remain dynamic, and to balance changing messages for the event of the day. How do you bring together a venue’s adult beverage category sponsor and family programming in a thoughtful, intelligent way? That’s the challenge.

4. Kid Zones for the (Parenting) Win

Convincing a 3-year-old to sit and watch an entire baseball game is not always (or ever?) possible. But, since kids love going just as much as parents love raising the next generation of fans, teams are responding by creating big, interactive, STE(A)M-focused educational kids’ spaces geared towards a wide variety of ages. Smart teams also see this as a way to capture life-long fans as competition for their loyalty continues to grow. You may be born into a family of a particular team’s fans, but attendance at games, interactions with the team/players via social media, and amateur sport participation are learned behaviors. Teams going the extra mile to bring families together fan the flames of fandom at their facility and reap long-term benefits.

Meet DI's Sports Practice

Whether it’s engaging Minnesota Vikings fans, delivering a redesigned locker room to the Denver Nuggets, creating a legacy for the University of Michigan’s athletic program, or bringing interactive fun to the Cleveland Indians’ Kids Clubhouse, we know how to bring your brand to life. Watch this 2 minute video, and contact us today!

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