Is it safe to call ‘sports’ one of the main pillars of American life? It feels like an overstatement. But, consider the money and viewership sports command each year and it’s not such a stretch. Like any other pillar of our culture, sports have been subject to change with technology.
For example, an NBA game used to be a solitary experience (unless, of course, you were watching with friends. Or at a bar. Or at the arena. But, still). Now, with Twitter, Vine, and more, bursting onto the scene, watching a regular season game can be a multiple-screen watching experience and ongoing dialogue. We watch and analyze the game differently than we used.
Players and executives have seen massive change, too. For those on the court or field, instant replay and improved equipment continue to change the way the game is officiated and approached. For coaches and executives, the rise in using advanced metrics changed the way players are valued and teams are constructed. They even made a movie about it.
All of this advancement inevitably extends to the stadium experience. Home game attendance is significant to the entire city. An influx of money goes to vendors, nearby restaurants, and local merchants. So, each stadium and team has a huge incentive to make the arena experience as enjoyable as possible. How can they do that? By applying the same ideas that have made all of our lives easier with smart technology.
Let’s go to our nation’s capital and take a look at what the Verizon Center (home to the NBA’s Washington Wizards and the NHL’s Washington Capitals) has done with their arena app:
Interactive Concessions Map: Tired of spending all your time in line at concessions? Using an app, you can check out the menu, identify where the stand is and get your refreshments quicker.
Problem Reporting: Instead of searching for a security member, you can use your app to report an unruly fan or anything that needs the attention of custodial staff.
QR Codes: Get your hands on exclusive digital media by scanning in-arena QR codes. This is an excellent way to separate the arena experience from watching elsewhere and gives better value to ticket holders supporting their team.
What else can be incorporated into the arena experience? Here are a few of our thoughts:
Text to Screen: Fans could comment on the game in real time by using text-to-screen technology. This encourages fan engagement and allows fans to have that multiple screen experience within the arena, keeping their attention on the action.
Bathrooms: Using a low powered blue tooth signal and wifi search, app users could receive feedback about which bathrooms were free. This would eliminate the need to wait in line in vain or get up to go and find that no urinals or stalls are free.
In the coming years, technology is going to continue to heavily shape how sports work. For fans, that can only be a positive. Who knows, maybe Cleatus the Football robot will hand deliver your nachos in the near future!