Bringing fans closer to their sporting heroes and ‘festivalising’ the spectator experience are becoming essential factors in staging memorable sporting events in an ever-more competitive entertainment landscape, according to BaAM Productions president Annemarie Roe.

For nearly 30 years, Toronto-based BaAM has delivered unique events for the likes of FIFA with the Women’s World Cup, as well as the recent Major Series of Putting and also the NHL ice hockey league, with whom the company has worked to support more than 20 outdoor games.

BaAM’s contribution to the stadium and arena sector was recognised at TheStadiumBusiness Design & Development Awards 2018 in November with the Industry Partner gong.

“It is important to find a way to speak to the fans, whatever the demographic is, and to ‘festivalise’ around the pre- and post-game experience,” Roe (pictured alongside Lee Slade, chairman of the board and executive director of structures at Walter P Moore) told TheStadiumBusiness.com.

“I think teams are increasingly realising that they can’t just rely on fans to keep buying tickets and turning up. We need to be creating opportunities and experiences for them throughout the season and during the off-season.

“The ‘festivalising’ approach also finds a way of appealing to a broader fan base, by adding some terrific entertainment, food and drinks. Fans want to come to events that are fun and represent an opportunity to hang out with friends.”

Having established long-term partnerships with clients, BaAM has witnessed a number of trends in terms of fan experience – or as Roe described it, the “white space between the architecture and the event promoters”.

Connecting with the stars of the show has become increasingly important. However, Roe insisted that the situation has to be carefully managed to ensure the players, as well as the fans, are able to benefit.

“More fans want to connect with the players,” she added. “The key is to provide an environment where the players are comfortable in making an appearance and spending a little one-on-one time with the fans.

“Sports can be like a religion for fans, but the players are recognising also a little bit more that the fans are the reason why they are where they are.”