Sports Teams Investing Billions in Stadiums to Increase Revenue: Here’s How

Mar 24, 2022 | Blog

As audiences started returning to stadiums, a growing number of professional sports teams have been announcing investments in stadium renovations, or new stadiums altogether, each worth billions of dollars. Since this kind of investment is usually considered a long term one, whose ROI is likely to be enjoyed in a decade or three, it’s interesting to look at the innovations investing in sports is set to create.

Better Attendee Experience to Keep Audiences Coming Back

Getting audiences out of their comfortable homes has been a growing challenge as technology advanced. Bigger TV screens, esports, live streams, social media… All audiences need to do is click a few buttons, sit back and enjoy.

As pro sports teams look into the future, they realize the in-stadium experience needs to provide something extra.

Premium Seats for an Experience You Can’t Get at Home

There’s a lot of talk about sports franchise stadiums actually growing smaller these days, which makes sense considering the above-mentioned at-home tech advancements. But it simultaneously means more opportunities for a premium experience for those who do get in their car or catch a bus, and make it to the stadium.

Primarily, major league audiences are bound to be closer to the field and their favorite athletes. Some of the upcoming advancements focus on building seats practically on the field, where they’re almost within the game itself, almost touching the athletes.

And then there’s this million dollar ticket to the Super Bowl (starts at minute 04:57):

Source: GQ Sports via YouTube

Cashierless Check Ins and Payments to Eliminate Logistical Hassles and Delight Loyal Attendees

There’s nothing like the thrill of a game experienced in real life, but until now, it meant breathing deeply through long, frustrating lines for anything from entering the stadium to buying food.

Now, some stadiums want to offer alternatives. They want audiences to be able to walk in the stadium freely, buy whatever they want seamlessly, and walk out without sacrificing their joy of the game for even a second.

One way they’re doing it is by touchless payments, such as facial recognition. To pay via facial recognition, customers must digitally link their credit cards to their faces using apps. When their faces will be scanned in the stadium, they’ll be let in without showing their tickets, and will be able to buy food or merchandise without pulling out their credit cards. Some technological developments are attempting to pull this off even when people have their masks on.

An alternative for those who potentially feel uncomfortable with this technology could be to turn to a mobile POS. With a mobile POS, staff members can charge audiences from anywhere in the stadium, providing an opportunity for clienteling for loyal or high paying attendees. Staff members could use the data available in a POS, especially as it’s integrated with other systems, to know a VIP attendee wants a special piece of merchandise, and contact that attendee an hour before it goes on sale to the general attending audience. If the attendee is interested, a staff member could bring it to her or his seat, and instantly charge via the mobile POS.

For other attendees, a mobile POS can be used to split out long lines, speed up the transition to the more fun experiences of the stadium, and increase chances of audience safety.

COVID Safety to Allow Games to Continue

In a world where participating in sports exposes you to a severe illness, as does working in a stadium or attending a game, sports teams are investing in keeping their people safe.

COVID Safety for Athletes and Staff

A sports team’s audience might be its biggest asset, but there’s no game without athletes, and there’s no stadium operations and great attendee experiences without staff members. Therefore, many sports teams have introduced a combination of masks and face shields, including anti-fog glasses, to keep their people doing their thing safely.

Some teams have also tried implementing individual, wearable health trackers, that would notify management as early as possible if an athlete is developing symptoms that could be related to COVID, and therefore require testing. The benefit is, of course, early detection, which could prevent the virus from spreading across everyone who plays and works at the stadium. The downside is the risk for privacy, which not all athletes have been open to accepting.

COVID Safety for Everyone in the Stadium

Facial recognition, which was covered above, is being invested in partially for COVID safety. The option allows for truly touchless transactions, which reduce the risk for attendees to catch COVID.

Simultaneously, it keeps staff members from interacting with large amounts of attendees and their potentially germ-filled touches.

Another way to eliminate germs in stadiums? Smart air filtration systems, that can suck germs out of stadiums, and filter back cleaner air.

And speaking of cleaner air…

Alignment with Attendee Values to Earn Their Business

Billions of dollars won’t amount to a smart investment if it doesn’t address one of the key challenges facing our world today – climate change.

First of all, the damage to the environment that can be created from mass audience experiences is bound to catch up with all of us. Second of all, addressing climate concerns is a smart business move, as an increasing amount of people decide to vote with the dollars they spend. Gen Zers, the new adults, especially, choose who to buy from based on which brand aligns with their values and takes real action toward driving actual change in fields such as sustainability and diversity.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that sports teams are looking to move toward carbon-neutral stadiums, that are powered by green energy.

Omnichannel Options to Deepen Engagement

Stadiums might be competing with virtual experiences, but smart sports teams know they can’t ignore them. We’ll be seeing lots of investments in live streams, in the metaverse, in NFTs and, of course, continued investment in social media, as audience expectations for omnichannel brand experiences increase.

Sports teams can use these channels to promote what happens in their physical stadiums. For example, they can live stream in the metaverse from the premium seats that are right on the field. They could engage in-stadium audiences in immersive experiences, perhaps involving athletes – experiences that can be documented for social media or the metaverse, but cannot be replicated online.

Making Data-Driven Decisions to Increase Revenue

A key benefit of integrating technology so deeply across stadium operations, athlete performance and attendee experience is that sports teams get more data than ever before. Specifically, sports teams are expected to significantly increase their investments in analytics and statistics technology in the 2021-2028 period for a better understanding of what’s happening on the field, and for the ability to make more data based decisions… which extend beyond what’s happening on the field.

With smart data, sports teams can know how to improve on-field performance, how to optimize stadium spaces, and how to target, engage and sell more efficiently to attendees. They can gain a more holistic understanding of their attendees’ needs and create experiences that surpass their expectations, keep them around as fans, and encourage advocacy for long term tem growth.

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