The Stadium Experience

In sport the Stadium is becoming more and more a bigger part of the sport fan’s experience. Managers of Stadiums the world over are making sure that these facilities are ready for consumers. Since live sport is still a great phenomenon the Stadium -experience is still ranked among the one of the most desired features.

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In the National Football League in the USA, the gate receipts are generally split 60-40 between the owners and the League. Experiences are at the heart of the entertainment business (Holbrook and Hirschman, 1982) and sporting events are no exception. There is greater attraction to fans and of course repeat attendance when they have a great experience in a Stadium.

 

AT Kearney describes the Sports Value Chain as properties, rights management, content and events. The report went further by saying “an enjoyable experience for fans can create additional opportunities for revenues.” For spectator sports, creating more memorable and personally meaningful experiences is important to sports marketers because these experiences can mitigate the effects of a team’s on-field performance (Hill and Green, 2000). So for example if your team is not performing up to par this season, the experience at the Stadium should be worth going for.

 

Consumer behaviour has been linked to the five senses and more so now, the sight, sound, touch, smell and taste are indicators which are used to determine consumer experience (Gobe 2001; Hulten, Broweus and Dijk, 2009; Lindstrom, 2005; Schmitt, 1999). It has been widely researched and revealed that a consumer’s sensual experience of products and brands are inextricably linked.

 

Let us take the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica where most of the country’s sporting events are held can you relate to its sound, smell, taste, smell and touch? What makes you go back each time? I could hear my colleagues say things that would not be positive for the Stadium , but the facility which has been around since 1962 has served its purpose and may have outlived its use in that space. Maybe it is time we re-invest in a sporting facility to match the returns on the positive output sport has had on this country.

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Windies Cricket Photo

A young 20-odd year old regular patron of the Stadium in Kingston describes her experience as: Sound – needs major improvement; Smell – there is nothing distinctive; nothing to mention about taste; Touch requires improvement as the seating and the aesthetics could be improved to more comfortable surroundings. She was most positive about the sight as the backdrop of the mountains/hills on the eastern side of the facility is a great sight especially if you are sitting in the grandstand.

 

Another reason why a Stadium should be comfortable is for social interaction – so the 35,000 capacity facility should have seats that are at least 19 inches wide for starters. It should have stalls/vendors that are point of sale accessible. Patrons no longer are walking around with loads of cash and with the advent of technology, POS purchases should be used. It should have secure toilet facilities for men and women. I pause here to wonder if the Independence Park Limited (IPL) has ever done a study to see who are the primary users of the facility, based on the sporting discipline and if so, do they determine how many gates, how many toilets they open and what kinds of goods and services are offered.

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For an event like the annual Boys and Girls Championships which is held over a five day period and requires the Stadium to be open for up to 13 hours per day, how is the venue prepared to host patrons and athletes? In other Stadiums I have been to on tours around the world, staff complement is increased for “big” events and posts for purchases of refreshments are increased. A valuable offer for a Stadium is the quality of the food and service. At the Dallas Cowboy Stadium for a big game, it takes an average of 5 – 7 minutes to wait online for food. Note – that Stadium  even with the Cowboys performing so badly the last few seasons, is still one of the most expensive tickets in the NFL and is full on most match days. It also hosts many other events in different disciplines.

 

Parking for the facility is important and for a Stadium with a capacity of 35,000 should have at least 5,000 car spaces.

 

Let’s get back inside the Stadium though and talk about – Media Space – which has been below par at least for the last ten years. The current space was upgraded for the hosting of the 2002 World Junior Track and Field Championships and absolutely nothing has been done to it in at least a decade. My media colleagues have accepted it or else something would have been done. The space needless to say is way below any required standard.

 

By now the amount of money we see invested in the bigger events (sports) could have been posted towards replay screens that in this day of technology are part of the fan experience along with an effective public address system.

 

I am suggesting the IPL staff conduct a fire drill before Champs, while also renting a crowd to see how quickly the Stadium can be emptied.

I may hasten to add, that if a patron/consumer is to spend upward of ten hours in a Stadium that it should feel like ‘home’ – if that is not achievable then the Stadium would have missed an opportunity to satisfy that need.

 

If Stadium managers are able to combine what consumers want through their sense of taste, smell, sound, touch and sight, then it would guarantee the patron’s return. Sure I would like for you to share your next experience at a Stadium with me so I can place in my next entry.

 

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