How Location-Based Technology Can Keep Fans Coming Back to the Stadium

- 25th Jul 2017

Twitter recently rechristened the Etihad Stadium as ‘Emptyhad,’ following a dismal turnout at one of Manchester City’s biggest games of the season.

Turns out, traffic was the reason people couldn’t make it on time.

Well, this is not a one-off incident. Fans are crazy about sports. They love to see their favorite team in the flesh, but stadiums aren’t able to translate the passion of fans into a solid ROI. There’s a reason #emptyseats is a trending hashtag on Twitter.


How Location-Based Technology Can Keep Fans Coming Back to the Stadium

Removed from the Millennial Reality

Stadiums want to create engaging fan experiences but haven’t been able to connect with their fans in a meaningful way. Millennials are the ones defining the future of the sports industry, but not understanding how they view the world and what experiences they value result in fan dissatisfaction.  While people say  millennials prefer watching games on TV over visiting stadiums, they don’t try and understand what leads to such preferences. Millennials enjoy watching live games like everyone else too; they just don’t settle for a poor or average stadium experience.

Look at it from their point of view – parking is already a nightmare, while the post-game traffic is usually even worse. Tickets are painfully expensive even the game isn’t sold out, and it takes too long to locate facilities.

Watching a game on TV, in contrast, is highly convenient. The seating is comfortable and they don’t get rained on. Getting a snack or a drink takes no more effort than the bar taking your order or a walk to your  fridge.Viewing the action may be less immediate, but they can do so in far greater detail, with replays, close-ups and expert commentary at their fingertips. Even better? It costs nothing.

Addressing Deficiencies in Modern Stadiums

Running a stadium costs money. Without the income from gate receipts and related revenue streams, it’s simply impossible to maintain a world-class playing field. Without decent facilities, top-drawer teams can’t compete at the level they’re capable of. The best players will move to other clubs or quit the sport altogether, and even televised games will suffer the consequences.

Stadiums have tried to bring people from a TV screen to the live action through numerous tactics: having television networks delay live broadcasts, investing in large video screens and better parking arrangements, engaging with fans over online communication channels. The problem with all these tactics is that they don’t have a quantifiable positive impact on someone’s game day experience.

What the sport industry needs, as far as channeling fans to stadium seats goes, is not the formation of yet another league or some kind of marketing gimmick, but the intelligent application of LBS technology to improve the actual fan experience.

Location-Based Technology Can Attract and Engage Fans

A sports fan who is dedicated enough to travel to see a game in person is exactly the kind of customer a stadium needs to nurture and retain. Equally, someone who is visiting a sports venue for the first time should be made to feel sufficiently at home so that they want to come back.

Fix the Parking Problem:

Whereas simply telling a guest to enter through gate number so-and-so is somewhat helpful, it can still be quite difficult to navigate through the crowds in order to actually find your seat in an unfamiliar environment. Using a combination of WiFi and beacons, visitors can easily spot where they are and how to get to their destination.

Similarly, parking can be challenging too. Locating your car after the game, and perhaps a few beers, can be frustrating in a strange city. Location intelligence can alleviate both problems – saving fans the frustration and making them that much more likely to return with their friends.

Provide Hi Speed WiFi Access:

Fans demands convenient, uninterrupted WiFi access in stadiums. Millennials are social media savvy and if they can’t connect to the internet, they may even leave at half-time. Because if they can’t post pictures on Facebook or upload videos on Instagram in real time, it takes away from the digital experience of live real time updates.

Providing WiFi access in the entire stadium is something all fans will thank you for doing. This will improve their experience as well as the stadium’s profile by allowing them to post live on social media, or access resources such as betting websites or live commentary. Additionally, live broadcasts, whether provided by the stadium itself or through a third party, can provide access to different camera angles and additional information.

Enable Wayfinding and Food Ordering

Navigating through the stadium trying to locate its facilities can be difficult. Fans also hate queueing at the food counters and running the risk of missing the game.

Locating the nearest restroom, ordering a snack from the seat, updating fans on expected waiting times, or participating in customer satisfaction surveys or trivia contests become easy with location intelligence provided by LBS technologies.

Location Data Reveals Actionable Insights

Meeting your visitors’ needs requires you to first understand their preferences and lifestyles. Making decisions based on direct observation can be counter-intuitive. Take for example the New York Mets recent decision to alter their weekend schedule. They were under the impression that families preferred to watch games on weekdays at 1 PM. However, after mining analytics, it turns out that families actually prefer to go out during the evenings on weekends, not at 1 P.M.

WiFi Data analytics can offer concrete, actionable business intelligence regarding problems that otherwise have only hazy solutions. There are so many questions LBS can help address. Will offering pre- and post-game entertainment reduce congestion at the entrances, and if so by how much? What are the characteristics of fans who might cancel their season tickets, and what can you do to retain their business? How can you improve your advertising revenues? For instance, your mobile advertisements can be dynamically personalized for whoever is looking at it or merchandise can be promoted at halftime if that is what time people buy most.

LBS Empowers Fans and Creates A Lasting Impression

Implementing location sensing technology in a stadium can represent a significant investment, but it will increasingly be demanded by sports fans and will soon be an essential component in maintaining the image of a progressive stadium that teams and their supporters will be happy to visit. A facility offering an extended service can quickly recoup the associated costs through higher admission prices.

Implementing the needed technological infrastructure and making sure that your stadium has all the functionality that fans demand will be an iterative process that can take months, but it offers advantages that can’t be obtained in any other way.

Ask yourself these questions: Do you currently have the ability to inform regular visitors of upcoming matches, and offer them discount tickets in a way that’s unobtrusive yet highly effective? Does every event have people shuffling around the concourses, trying to figure out where their seats are and how to get there? Are parking problems and unnecessarily long queues perennial problems? Location based technologies can address all these challenges and offer a memorable experience people can’t replicate from a television screen.


Proximity MX helps stadiums gain actionable insights on fan behavior using existing WiFi or Beacon infrastructure. Request for a free demo by clicking the button below to learn how Proximity MX can help you gain insights on sports fans and engage with them real-time.