SBD/December 12, 2013/Events and Attractions

Intercollegiate Athletic Forum: Improved Game-Day Experience A Focus Of All College Execs

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Wood thinks students have had a sub-par experience at college games
The breakout session yesterday during the '13 IMG Intercollegiate Athletic Forum on enhancing the fan experience at venues featured a quintet of top industry execs sharing ideas for improving the game-day experience. A primary topic of discussion focused on colleges getting more students to attend games, and be satisfied with the event. Dimensional Innovations Sports Practice Dir Justin Wood said, "The experience for students in many cases lately has been sub-par." For the last five years, Wood has driven the company's sports portfolio through sponsorship activations, HOFs and branding experiences. Dimensional Innovations clients include Missouri, Michigan, Kansas and Kansas State. Wood said, "We need to improve the event for students because these are your legacy fans," said Wood.

SLOW TO CHANGE: AECOM Project Dir Steve Terrill, who has spent 14 years dedicated to the design of athletic facilities and is working with Clemson on its football stadium, pointed out the challenges of engaging college students. Terrill said, "Today, students live in nice apartments and can eat at food courts serving healthy meals, but their experience going to football games has not changed in decades. They wait on long lines for tickets. The food isn't good. The bathrooms are far away. All of that must be improved." Texas A&M Senior Associate AD/External Affairs Jason Cook shared a pointed insight. He said, "If you want to increase revenue at the football stadium, improve the quality of the women's bathrooms."

MAKING CONNECTIONS: Connectivity is also key. Washington Associate AD/Capital Projects & Operations Chip Lydum said, "Get people closer to the game, and make sure they are connected to their team and their mobile devices." He was the school's point person for the recent $281M renovation of 90-year-old Husky Stadium. Lydum added, "Don't lose sight of the fact that you're fighting the giant TV in people's houses and the comforts of home” Sink Combs Dethlefs CEO Don Dethlefs, whose Denver-based sports architecture firm has been responsible for the design of more than 75 arenas and collegiate facilities, pointed out how Michigan used to have concourses that were narrow and dark, but now its facilities have kid zones. He said, "The nicer the environment, the more they'll come and the more they'll stay. And, hopefully, they'll spend more money."

For more from the Intercollegiate Athletic Forum, please see our On The Ground blog.
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