This blog is the first in a series exploring the themes examined in our whitepaper titled ‘Technology enablers for stadiums of the future.

For stadium operators, fans have to come first. But the foundation of an exceptional fan experience is built on a stadium’s day-to-day operations. How they keep their venues clean, safe and secure matters. And doing it right requires advanced wireless connectivity.  

Advanced connectivity can help improve building management. It also makes back-of-house operations more streamlined. Sustainable. Cost-effective. When you combine those cost savings with a more appealing venue that people will want to return to again and again, it adds up to more revenue you can reinvest into the fan experience. That’s a win-win for stadium operators everywhere.  

Enhancing safety, security and well-being 

A neutral host distributed antenna system (DAS) can get you started. It helps deliver seamless, ubiquitous coverage in and around your entire venue. That coverage is key to allowing wireless sensors and other devices to improve stadium operations. One of the most important applications is in safety and security. If fans don’t feel safe at the stadium, they won’t want to come back.  

Wireless cameras are a great example. They can track traffic patterns inside and outside the stadium, like what exits and entrances are used most often. That information can help improve crowd control and traffic flow before and after games. We’re currently working with a highly innovative NBA team that plans to use this technology to keep fans safe by better understanding how crowds behave in certain situations.  

But that’s not the only use of that technology. Let’s say you combine it with AI or facial recognition software. That allows you to keep lines shorter by enabling ticketless entry. Or even find lost children. There are also highly advanced scanners that can detect weapons and suspicious behaviour.  

When it comes to health and wellness, sensors can monitor and adjust air quality, or wearable devices can track players’ fitness. That’s helping sports teams improve performance and prevent injuries from happening in the first place. And react more quickly when they do. 

Keeping costs low and fan satisfaction high 

Advanced connectivity can help stadium operators cut costs across many different areas of their operations. Those savings can then go right back into improving the fan experience.  

Automatic shut-off valves can reduce water use. Leak detection can flag minor plumbing problems before they become major issues. Energy use can be controlled by using sensors connected to lighting, ventilation and temperature systems. Equipment maintenance can become proactive rather that reactive. That means no more waiting for something to break down and cause a disruption before it’s repaired or replaced.  

All that data can be combined into a single-screen utility management system, making operations even simpler and more streamlined. Real-time adjustments can be made based on crowd levels. Traffic patterns. Event schedules. And more. 

The impact on the fan experience can be significant, right away. Even something as simple as monitoring foot traffic in bathrooms can help, as it allows cleaning schedules to be adjusted to focus on high-traffic areas. Sensors can keep an eye on supply levels of items like soap or paper towels. That way, there’s no risk of running out – and leaving fans unhappy. 

Using data to reimagine how stadiums are designed 

A better understanding of fan behaviour is critical to making the major decisions that will dramatically improve and reimagine your operations going forward. What concessions do fans tend to buy? How do they prefer to buy them? How are they using your venue-specific mobile app? It all matters. Because that data can be used to make small or large adjustments to your day-to-day operations. It can even inform how the stadiums of the future are planned and designed.  

During the pandemic, we saw how reliable, ubiquitous connectivity helped stadium operators adapt to less-than-ideal circumstances. Limits on how many people could be indoors? No problem. They were able to create “pop-up” stands to sell food and merchandise in open-air spaces like parking lots. That’s just scratching the surface of what’s possible.  

In the years to come, concession stands and team stores might be fully replaced by direct-to-seat ordering. That will make more space available for communal gathering spots that bring fans together. The “stadium experience” can also be extended beyond the stadium itself. That’s what we’ve done with the L.A. LIVE entertainment district. It’s a four million square foot retail and entertainment space surrounding Arena in Los Angeles. And it features the exact same advanced connectivity as inside the venue itself.  

Making these kinds of operational decisions requires lots of data. So where do you begin? With an all-in-one smart application that offers venue-specific features like ticketless scanning, geolocation and concession ordering. That way, you can start engaging with and collecting data directly from your fans and visitors.  

Focusing on the fan through better operations 

The fan experience is the most important part of stadium operations. No fans, no revenue. And post-pandemic, the fan experience is the only thing that’s going to get people back into these venues. What fans want has to be at the heart of how stadiums are operated. And it needs to inform how any new stadiums are designed and constructed.  

Delivering the best possible experience for the fans depends on streamlined, cost-effective operations – all enabled by advanced connectivity and data analytics. By embracing these technologies today, operators can better plan the stadiums of the future to optimize their operations even further.