Experience Live Again: Developing New Strategies to Optimise the Fan Experience Stadium and Arena Congress 2017

As the sports and entertainment landscape continues to evolve and stadia are challenged to combat consumption of sport through non-traditional channels, the need to encourage and engage patrons by creating compelling live experiences has never been more important.

The smart stadiums of 2020 and beyond will ensure a heightened fan experience, improved security, and increased revenue generation opportunities. Owners and operators that embrace these advancements in technology will deliver super connected venues that will take the live experience to the next level.

Ahead of the Stadium and Arena Congress 2017 we chat to Nick Sautner, General Manager – Commercial at The Eden Park Trust (Eden Park), who recently played host to three of the British & Irish Lions tour matches of New Zealand that were broadcast to over 200 million homes homes globally and attracted sell-out attendances of approximately 50,000 per fixture.

In this Q&A Nick shares with us details of Eden Park’s integrated Icon Partner Strategy and delves into the opportunities this Strategy has created for sponsor collaboration, an optimised fan experience, and revenue generation


Could you explain the Icon Partner Strategy integrated at Eden Park?

Eden Park’s rich sporting history, global profile and worldwide broadcast reach attracts interest from both national and international brands. Each year, more than half a million sports and entertainment fans from around the world enjoy events at Eden Park, with sell out crowds of 50,000 on match days and over 1,000 non-match day functions attending the precinct.

In collaboration with Guy Ngata, CEO - Eden Park, and our Commercial team, an Icon Partner Strategy was developed and executed in 2016. This represented a paradigm shift in New Zealand stadium management. This innovative strategy identified specific industry categories to target and incorporated a variety of Eden Park assets, customised to provide a return on investment (ROI) by sharing expertise, technology and resources.

Personalised and customised proposals were developed based on individual company aspirations and partner strategic objectives which were overlaid against broadcast and market presence.

A deliberate and quirky component of the strategy, something that seems obvious, was to acknowledge that the majority of attendees at Eden Park wear black. As such, we identified brands with bright colours that would be clearly visible in stadium and on television. This included Icon Partner corporate colours for Kia Motors – red and white, Samsung Electronics – blue and white, AA Insurance – predominantly yellow, Kennards Hire – red and white along with ASB – yellow and black. In addition, signage partners Mainfreight – light blue, Stihl – orange and yellow, and Powerade - blue.


What benefits does the program provide Eden Park Trust and the fans?

The vast majority of events held at Eden Park feature international teams reaching global audiences. By way of example, the recent DHL New Zealand Lions Series 2017 had a projected global audience of 204 million households, highlighting the opportunity for multi-nationals.

These 8-10 icon partnerships leverage a variety of integrated assets and experiences including:

  • Category exclusivity
  • Non-event day function room access
  • Supply rights
  • Naming rights to designated areas
  • Money-can’t-buy experiences including access to the hallowed turf
  • Event day corporate hospitality and ticketing
  • Website, WI-FI and Data ownership
  • In-bowl access to LED signage
  • Seating zones
  • Digital integration of IPTV
  • Street facing branding
  • Exclusive member offers

The strategy focussed on delivering integration across the stadium assets rather than just signage sales in isolation.

Through our recent partnership with Samsung, approximately 160 metres of LED signage has been installed. This enhances stadium presentation, offers opportunities for fan engagement and delivers greater flexibility for partners to showcase their brands and in turn a greater yield. Additionally, LED signage can be utilised on non-event days as a point of difference for our function business.

This enables partners to provide benefits and an ROI associated with their partnership. Value creation and perceived benefit is critical to retention.


How does this program help maximise revenue year round? How does it differ from traditional advertising methods?

Eden Park is reliant upon ensuring ongoing utilisation given the infrastructure investment. A willingness to be nimble and responsive to market needs is required.

A focus from partners on both event and non-event day engagement with passionate fans is critical to maintain 365 days a year engagement.

Creative and non-traditional usage of facilities delivers revenues to Eden Park that may have previously been directed elsewhere.

By way of example, partners have been encouraged to embrace the stadium and hold awards nights, Christmas functions, conferences, social club activities, team building exercises, tours and community festivals, all of which utilise complimentary car-parking facilities and provide much needed annuity revenue.


What are some of the key challenges in implementing a program like the Integrated Icon Program? How are you working to overcome these?

Given the integrated icon Partner program incorporated a number of newly created assets, it was difficult for partners to evaluate the true benefits likely to be derived. This was irrespective of the provided media QI value and the perceived/actual value was only evident once installed. Furthermore, what value do you place on one of the world’s most iconic stadiums? Some would argue it is priceless!

A great example has been the installation of the largest in-stadium sign in the southern hemisphere which marked the launch of a significant, long-term partnership between Eden Park and AA Insurance.

This asset measures an impressive 40m x 10m, the only sign of this magnitude within Eden Park, and once installed delighted the client and fans alike.


How will new partnerships be utilised in the future to enhance the game day experience?

As the sports and entertainment landscape continues to evolve and stadia are challenged to combat consumption of sport through non-traditional channels, the need to encourage and engage patrons by creating compelling live experiences has never been more important.

As such, a new Eden Park brand position and call to action was implemented with a simple and clear statement communicating exactly what actions we sought to deliver – EXPERIENCE LIVE AGAIN.

In line with the above, and in collaboration with Vodafone New Zealand, Eden Park agreed to a 4G infrastructure upgrade which enabled a wide range of world leading digital fan engagement and connectivity solutions.

A partnership between New Zealand Rugby and Vodafone New Zealand, in conjunction with SKY Television, has introduced world-class digital experiences for rugby fans inside and outside the stadium.

The Stadium Live experience was launched during the DHL New Zealand Lions Series 2017. This new technology puts control in the hands of fans in the stadium who through their devices are able to replay tries, view highlights and watch alternative live footage from multiple different camera angles.

In future, additional functionality will be explored to enable customer and Member specific food and beverage offers and in-seat service functionality.

If you’re interested in hearing more from Nick about the integrated Icon Partner Strategy and exploring in more detail the opportunities this Strategy has created for sponsor collaboration, an optimised fan experience, and long-term revenue generation, then join us at the Stadium and Arena Congress 2017.

The event, held at the Sydney Cricket Ground on the 24th-25th of October brings together over 18 industry experts from some of the biggest stadium and arena projects in Australia and around the world including: FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou, new Perth Stadium and ANZ Stadium.

To secure your ticket to the event and for special early bird pricing simply fill in the registration form and email back to registration@iqpc.com.au

All images courtesy Carey Ollerenshaw and Andrew Cornaga

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