Stadiums of the future – How can technology transform stadiums?

Euro 2020 is finally here; with 24 teams competing in 51 matches across 11 host cities. The pandemic has changed much of how this major tournament will be experienced by fans - like a number of other events, many fans will enjoy the action through a screen. And as safety measures and reduced capacities risk diluting the match day experience, there has never been a better time for owners and clubs to consider the opportunities of technology.

To fully unlock the benefits of technology requires upfront investment to get the foundations right with everything from the infrastructure, networking as well as physical hardware and operational software. There will likely be caution around investing large sums of money into technology, particularly at present. But when supported with the right transformational vision, we think technology provides a platform for value creation in both the short and medium-long term.

So what technology can the industry explore to attract fans back post pandemic and provide an enhanced game day experience? There are two main categories - those that can help address the challenges raised by social distancing and enhanced health and safety and those that help re-establish that gameday atmosphere and experience. Below are a selection of options for consideration:

Health and safety technology benefits

Digital ticketing

Digital ticketing will be used during Euro 2020, enabling tickets to be easily transferred between fans. This incentivises purchases in the face of fast-changing government restrictions. In the long-term, linking these tickets to digital passports (see below) and using blockchain technology won’t just help venue operators to control the secondary ticket market, it could change the way fans resell their tickets in the future.

Fan communications

Regular communication in the build-up to the games is essential to keep fans informed about safety measures and provide reassurance about post-pandemic adaptations. Euro 2020 has even developed an app that sends notifications with the latest travel advice and government restrictions for each game.

Vaccine passports

Fans attending England's Euro 2020 group games at Wembley Stadium are required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test before entry. This may become a new industry standard, with the use of technology being vital to ensure fans can access sports venues quickly and easily (e.g. using an app or linking to digital tickets).

Monitoring crowd density

This helps to avoid large groups of fans gathering at food counters, bars, toilets and merchandise stands. For example, digital signage and wayfinding could be installed to provide real-time information when moving through public areas around stadiums.

Cashless stadiums

We have seen the introduction of cashless stadiums already in the UK (for example, Twickenham), however moving forwards this will likely become standard practice.

In-seat app

To avoid queues and large groups gathering, in-seat ordering via apps is gaining popularity and is frequently used in US stadiums. It allows spectators to either collect their food, drink or merchandise from pick-up points, or even order straight to their seat - the ultimate convenience.

In-game fan experience technology benefits

Augmented reality (AR) experience

AR can offer fans a more personalised and immersive experience, and a new way to enjoy the gameday. It also creates opportunities (for example, marketing) for stadium owners to monetise. At the AT&T Stadium in Dallas, the AR technology allows fans to stream holograms of Dallas Cowboys players, take selfies with their idols, access live stats and scoreboards and even play a game that has Cowboys players facing off against robots at half-time.

Visual billboards & LED screens

These provide a great way for fans to engage in additional content and provide extra advertising space. At the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, there is a 360-degree LED video halo display which is unique to the stadium’s retractable roof structure. The display can show a wide range of content at any point during the match including interactive fan boards, instant replays, statistics, graphics and animations, sponsor messages, and has a ‘filter fan cam’ that adds a ‘filter’ to the faces of spectators enjoying the game day experience.

In-seat app

As noted earlier, in a world where there is an app for everything, they can be a great tool in a stadium context. Fans can order food, drinks and merchandise to their seats, and share photos on social media or to in-stadium screens. They can even vote for their player of the match, watch multi-angle replays, and collect loyalty points to use for discounts in the future.

These are just a selection of the high-level considerations as to how technology could be used in sports venues. When considering the ‘long game’, technology can bring real commercial advantages over time. To ensure seamless solutions are in place for your organisation, careful planning and working in partnership with technology providers will be key to integrating the optimal infrastructure that supports your strategy and provides a return on your investment. In part two of this mini series, we will explore more about the benefits of these investments and share insights into who is already pioneering new technologies in the UK sports market.

In the meantime if you do have any questions, our team is ready to help, you can also check out our other sports related content in the section below. Please contact Harry Ryan-Smith or Clive Reeves to discuss how we could assist you and your organisation. 

Contact us

Clive Reeves

Clive Reeves

UK Sports Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7483 944179

Harry Ryan-Smith

Harry Ryan-Smith

Assistant Director, German Business Group, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7483 311787

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