Stadiums are not just for sport – they are entertainment precincts

Stadium photo

From sports to entertainment hubs – how the modern stadium is transforming.

Simple sports venues are now multi-faceted entertainment precincts.
Our expert investigates the top trends stadiums are adopting to attract more patronage.
By Rob Clifford

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Each city has at least one – an iconic sports stadium that over decades has become a much loved beacon of hope for sports fans of all descriptions.

But what was once simply a venue for cricket, footy, soccer or athletics is now so much more. Features like bars, entertainment hubs, dining, memorabilia, museums and corporate hospitality are fast becoming permanent fixtures of sports stadiums across Australia and the world. Our MD Rob Clifford explores the trends that modern stadiums are now adopting to attract sports fans and retain more share of their entertainment dollar.

Trend # 1: Range of accessible experiences for members

There needs to be a range of hospitality experiences for members to ensure they continue to engage with the stadium on an ongoing basis. Members’ facilities must range from formal to casual, reserved to ad hoc and ensure that all products are perceived to be a value proposition.

Traditional members’ hospitality delivered value via a discount for members. This is no longer the key value. Exclusive areas and dining privileges are now a key driver in members’ areas.

Trend #2: High end privileged experiences

Airlines have first class, hotels have penthouses and stadiums are getting in on the action by also offering extra privileges for the high end of the market. Premium offerings within a stadium environment can be in the form of a dining room, private box or members’ lounge. Traditional sit down meals are still relevant for these experiences and is enhanced by elevated design, and fit-out, culinary selections, service style and promotional features such as involvement of sponsors or celebrity chefs.

It is not uncommon for the premium hospitality offer to become oversubscribed. This outcome has a positive effect on the surrounding member hospitality options, as long as good customer service manages member disappointment well.  Access can be controlled by introducing a ballot system, with the limited supply adding to the exclusivity of the offer.

Trend #3: pre and post game entertainment

Any attraction that increases dwell time by enticing customers to come to the venue before the game and stay behind after it can be hugely beneficial for the stadium. Pre-game family entertainment is appealing, whilst post game beverages and dining can ensure that members enjoy their stay long after the final whistle. A variety of options appealing to families, younger patrons and seniors is essential for any stadium wanting to secure increased pre and post game patronage.

Trend #4: dress standards

Dress standards can help define the culture of membership areas and set the standards. There is ample evidence to suggest it also plays a part in differentiating user markets in members’ areas. Hospitality areas with more casual dress standards will attract younger members and the offering on hand should reflect this audience. Areas with a more formal dress code will attract an older demographic. There is an increasing trend for less formal hospitality offerings to appeal to a wider segment. However, this is not to say a premium formal offering for members not required – it should stay in the mix.

Trend #5 engagement with female members

More and more spaces and hospitality offerings are being designed with female members in mind. Many sports based clubs have limited engagement options for female members, even though this membership base may contain significant representation. Bar design and hospitality concepts such as champagne lounges and tea houses are finding a home in stadium design.