Power Up: Cavaliers, Pacers Providing Fans With Mobile Charging Stations
The Cavaliers and Pacers beginning this season will provide their fans with charging stations for mobile devices at Quicken Loans Arena and Bankers Life Fieldhouse, respectively. The Cavs dispersed 22 high-top tables with four sets of three cords apiece (iPhone 4; iPhone 5/6; MicroUSB) throughout The Q, while the Pacers added three lockers, each with 10 cubbies for peoples’ devices. Both the tables and lockers are products from N.Y.-based gochargenetworks, a company established in ’08. The Pacers will monitor usage in Year 1 before deciding whether or not to add more stations, while the Cavs “have pretty much met their needs,” gochargenetworks CEO David Walke said. Cavs VP/Digital & Web Services Mike Conley said that in this day and age, the charging stations are in fact needs, not wants. “If we expect our fans to come into our building equipped with their smartphone and ready to use it to engage with our brand, we’ve got to be prepared to provide them the power to support that," he said. "The last thing we want is people sitting down in front of outlets and blocking traffic. The tables allow us to drive our fans to defined areas to charge their phones.” Approximately 5-10% of fans in attendance are expected to use the charging stations, Walke said, and he estimates that users will typically spend about 15-20 minutes standing around the tables, with smartphones charging at a rate of approximately 2% per minute and tablet batteries recharging at about half that rate.
REVENUE GENERATOR: Each table costs north of $3,000, and each locker is in the $5,500-6,000 range. Fans do not pay for the service, but teams still generate revenue by branding the stations. The Cavs’ tables, for example, are sponsored by FirstEnergy. There is no limit on the amount of time someone can charge their device, but a soon-to-be-implemented technology will allow for just six minutes of power until users answer sponsor-created survey questions, at which point 45 minutes will be tacked on. This data greatly increases the value to the sponsors, Walke said, as does the fact that those using the tables will be keeping a close eye on their devices, and the sponsor-branded surface consequently.
GROWING TREND: As recently as ‘12, gochargenetworks did not have any charging stations in sports venues, but its units are now in 27 MLB ballparks, seven NFL stadiums, four NBA arenas and one NHL facility. The PGA Tour and USTA have also bought in, using gochargenetworks products for signature events such as the PGA Championship and U.S. Open Tennis Championships, as have college programs, including Ohio State football. Walke said that the company expects to continue expanding significantly and has many deals in the works, including ongoing conversations with upward of a half dozen NBA teams and “very active” discussions with race tracks.