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Making Venues Better: Enhancing the Fan Experience

Fan Experience: Venues

Jason Cook, Texas A&M
Don Dethlefs, Sink Combs Dethlefs
Chip Lydum, Washington
Steve Terrill, AECOM
Justin Wood, Dimensional Innovations

The breakout session on enhancing the fan experience at venues during the 2013 IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum featured a quintet of top industry executives 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 experience. "The experience for students in many cases lately has been sub-par," said Justin Wood, sports practice director for Dimensional Innovations. For the last five years, Wood has driven the company's sports portfolio through developing sponsorship activations, halls of fame and branding experiences. Dimensional’ Innovations clients include Missouri, Michigan, Kansas and Kansas State. "We need to improve the event for students because these are your legacy fans," said Wood.

SLOW TO CHANGE: AECOM project director 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. "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," said Terrill. "They wait on long lines for tickets. The food isn't good. The bathrooms are far away. All of that must be improved." Jason Cook, senior associate athletic director of external affairs at Texas A&M University, shared a pointed insight. "If you want to increase revenue at the football stadium, improve the quality of the women's bathrooms," said Cook.

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

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Related Topics:

IMG, Colleges

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