Stadiums of the future: how Euro 2020 shows us the road map of entertainment

It’s crazy to think big crowds will ever be a normal concept of life again in a post-covid world. Seeing stadiums somewhat full during Euro 2020 is one small step that maybe one day large events will return. 

It’s a new experience seeing football fans’ excitement in England for Euro 2020, with hearing chants on the train of “football’s coming home” when traveling to London, and pubs going crazy when England wins a match. It remind me a lot of American football and the Superbowl.

But whether in America, the UK, or any other part of the world, sports in general has a way of uniting so many people. But the major part of sports is the fans and, without them, a lot of teams have been struggling. According to Deloitte, the absence of fans could mean that UK Premier League football clubs could experience revenue losses of up to £500m collectively, with the lower leagues also expected to be hit hard. 

But nonetheless, Euro 2020 is finally here with 24 teams competing in 51 matches across 11 host cities. The pandemic has changed the way fans will experience this tournament, and it may be a sign for how we’ll see major sporting and entertainment events in the future. 

Like most other industries, sporting and entertainment events will not be the same in a post-covid world. We’re going to see a big push on adopting covid measures long-term as consumers will be health focused, and new technology is making this possible. There has never been a better time for owners and clubs to consider the opportunities of technology to increase their value over time

As we transition into a tech based entertainment industry, stadiums will require upfront investment. This investment will range from infrastructure, networking, physical hardware, and operational software. 

There will be hesitation in investing large sums of money into stadiums right now due to lack of attendance, but technology will add value in both the short and medium-long term for the entertainment industry.

So in honor of Euro 2020, here are some of the ways we may see stadiums change:

Health and safety

One big category of technology will be focused around health and safety. The types of technology we’re seeing during Euro 2020 are digital tickets, in-app communication, monitoring crowd density, and in-seat ordering.

Digital ticketing allows for tickets to be transferred between fans. In the long-term, linking these tickets to digital passports and using blockchain technology will help stadium operators control the secondary ticket market. This could change the way fans resell their tickets in the future. 

Euro 2020 has developed an app that sends notifications to fans with the latest travel advice and government restrictions for each game. This may soon become a regular practice with large games, concerts, and other events. Regular communication before large events will be essential to keep consumers informed about changing safety measures.

Crowd monitoring is essential during COVID times, but may also become a standard practice in the future. 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 will also help reduce times to purchase food and merchandise. We can already see this shift starting in the UK, with Tottenham Hotspur Stadium which became the first fully cashless venue in the Premier League when it opened. In-seat ordering via apps is another measure to curb large crowd, and is frequently used in US stadiums.

While many of the technology mentioned will help curb covid measures this year, using this technology as a standard practice will create operational efficiency in large events.

In-game fan experience

Another category of technology is in-game fan experience. Along with in-app seating, this technology will feature augmented reality (AR), visual billboards, and LED screens.

AR creates a more personalised and immersive game experience for fans, while monetising new opportunities for stadiums. For an example, the AT&T Stadium in Dallas 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 and LED screens create another way fans can engage in a stadium and provide extra advertising.The large displays show a wide range of content, such as 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. 

Final Thoughts

These are a few example of a technology can change the way stadiums operate. Not only will technology make large events more convenient for fans, but they can also create new ways stadiums can create commercial advantages over time.

This is a great opportunity for technology companies to create the AI and software needed for stadiums to get back at being full capacity, while following the needs of the fans. New apps and tracking systems will be in demand from stadiums.

For stadiums, switching business plans digital should be a focus moving forward. It is important to know when to invest in your business with better technology or find others who will. Polestar has worked with many firms who are either seeking to provide these services or use them as they move into the next digital stage, both through fund raising for investment and making introductions. We would love to hear your plans or provide the right introductions needed for your business. As always, please reach out!

When supported with the right transformational vision, we think technology provides a platform for value creation in both the short and medium-long term.

By Anusheh Khan on 20/07/2021