Major League Soccer franchise Columbus Crew has engaged IBM Services and IBM iX to create a vision for the design and technology to transform the fan experience at its new stadium, which is due to open in the summer of 2021.

The partnership is designed to provide an interactive experience for the players, coaches, staff and supporters at the 20,000-seat stadium, which will replace Mapfre Stadium as the Crew’s home venue.

IBM will provide a comprehensive fan experience strategy that will be fuelled by research and key insights and ensure each supporter receives the best possible match experience. A future-focused technology strategy will also be outlined to ensure the design of the stadium will be flexible in the long term.

IBM will also provide recommendations for potential technology services to position the venue as a community hub by creating an experience for all supporter groups.

Columbus Crew president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko said: “As we look ahead to our new stadium, creating and delivering the best experience possible for the Crew SC fanbase is a key objective for the club.

“By collaborating with IBM, we will ensure that Crew supporters have a unique experience at every event, setting the bar for future sports and entertainment venues. We look forward to working with IBM as this investment is a continued reflection of the commitment from the Haslam and Edwards Families to make Crew SC a pace-setter for the fan experience in North American sports.”

Matt Candy, general manager and global leader at IBM iX, added: “Digital technology has created an expectation among consumers for unique, personalised experiences and performance venues are under intense pressure to go beyond staging live entertainment by providing a personalised and interactive fan experience, whether a user is on their couch or at the live event and our goal is to help meet those expectations.”

IBM has previously delivered digital experiences for the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United; Banc of California Stadium, home of Los Angeles FC; and Kyle Field at Texas A&M University.

Mapfre Stadium is set to be turned into the Columbus Community Sports Park once the club’s new stadium opens. Mapfre Stadium opened in 1999 and was the first soccer-specific stadium built for an MLS team.

The Crew’s stadium plans are being led by Dee and Jimmy Haslam, who assumed ownership of the franchise at the end of 2018.