Tech challenge for stadium operators

Speed of service and wayfinding are becoming increasingly important factors in a stadium’s operational set-up whilst offering significant benefits to the customer experience, experts from a variety of sectors have told TheStadiumBusiness.com.

Whereas certain sports and entertainment venues have monopolised media attention with state-of-the-art technology and facilities, getting the basics of the fan experience were highlighted consistently by key players in the stadium business.

Speaking to TheStadiumBusiness.com, Jason Melby, who works in international marketing at Daktronics, was keen to underline the operational benefits of English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur’s decision to install more than 90 LED displays at its new stadium (pictured).

“From wayfinding to the ticket office, the technology is enhancing the experience for fans. It is what we call the ‘street-to-seat’ experience’,” he said.

“It should also be remembered that these displays can play an important role in terms of communicating emergency and safety message.

“Tottenham’s stadium is really the first one in Europe to adopt the US major league approach to LED displays, but I think it will act as a catalyst for others.”

According to Melby, in the US, which is at least a decade ahead of European sport in adopting LED boards, the trend has shifted to enhancing the visitor experience away from the competition arena itself.

“For the past 10 years we’ve seen displays in the major leagues get larger and larger, but I think we’ve hit a peak with the main in-bowl display boards,” he added.

“The focus is shifting a little bit more to the exterior experience, such as with the Milwaukee Bucks’ displays in the concourses and Tottenham’s displays in the Atrium. These displays are focused on building the excitement for fans, but also adding value for sponsors.”

For biometrics payments and ID verification business Sthaler, Fingopay, which enables veins inside the finger to be read by a scanner to complete a payment, is all about “reducing everything down to the simplest interaction it can possibly be”, according to managing director Simon Binns.

Fingopay has been installed at Premier League club Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, while the company has struck a deal that will allow the technology to be rolled out across Manchester from this summer as part of a new focus on selected smart cities worldwide.

“We have a city cluster strategy where we want to roll out in selected cities, such as Manchester, Copenhagen and Dublin,” Binns told TheStadiumBusiness.com.

“The product’s capability is being expanded to include age verification, and that will have a significant impact.”

The sector is cluttered, with various technology providers proposing solutions to the frictionless payments conundrum, which can slash queuing and enhance efficiencies.

Binns added though that in the years to come, a combination of technology offers is likely to be provided by stadiums.

“I don’t think there will be one single solution – I think there will be multiple solutions,” he said.

“The stadium operators and partners have to envisage how they will use the technology.”

However, Elmira Moraveji, who works in consultant relations and EMEA market development for installed sound at d&b audiotechnik, believes that audio technology is not receiving the recognition it deserves from stadium operators, especially in terms of the fan experience.

“They are not giving it much attention, because of the focus on video,” she told TheStadiumBusiness.com.

“We hope this does change, although lots of people in the sector are not talking about the importance of audio.

“However, good audio is vital. It plays a crucial role in a stadium’s lounges and bars, as well as in the stands.

“In other places in life, if you are standing or sitting somewhere where the audio is not good, you will move on. Yet, some stadium operators still wonder why people don’t spend more time at the venue.”

Image: Tottenham Hotspur