A Whole New Ballgame

The sports industry enjoys the support of some of the world’s most passionate fans. That’s a fact forward-thinking franchises are translating into greater revenue and brand loyalty via next-generation sports venues. Through creative sponsorship agreements and enhanced fan experiences, arenas and stadiums are evolving from places to catch a game to fully appointed entertainment complexes.

Considering the increasing cost of building and operating sports venues — and the public’s decreasing appetite for funding them — it’s an opportune time to consider the components of successful sports venues.

Image: The STAPLES Center and Gensler-designed Farmers Field in downtown Los Angeles’s L.A. LIVE sports-entertainment district.

Touching Base, Again and Again

Like other pillars of the entertainment establishment, the sport business is competing for the attention of an audience with limitless leisure-time diversions. Attending a game or watching it broadcast live used to be the only options for closely following the action. Today, scores, highlights, game stats and stories stream constantly via mobile devices and online channels.

“If you can’t beat them, join them” goes the adage the sports industry is embracing with regard to technology. Increasingly, sports venues are integrating tech in the game-day experience, supplying Wi-Fi connections and other interactive touch points so fans can choose how, when and to what degree they engage their team.

A Fan-first Approach

It used to be that sports venues aimed to provide fans good seats and decent concessions. In today’s environment, that simplistic approach no longer suffices. “Sports venues are focusing on hospitality,” says Ron Turner, a Gensler sports practice leader. “They contain more clubs, food-and-beverage options, and retail offerings — and give fans more access to information about the game — than ever before.”

Franchises and cities are locating sports venues within mixed-use entertainment districts, giving fans access to myriad hospitality and retail options that extend beyond the venue walls. Inside the gates, diverse concession and seating options allow fans to opt for their preferred price points and amenities.

Showcasing Sponsorship

Providing an exceptional fan experience is enhanced when a franchise develops strong partnerships with corporate sponsors. Sponsorships represent significant revenue streams that can cover the costs of constructing and operating venues, and signing on sponsors early is critical to forming lasting ties.

Including sponsors in the design process also enables them to play a role in shaping the fan experience. A company logo hung inconspicuously on a concourse wall will deliver few dividends for the sponsoring company or the venue. But when sponsors help design special sections that showcase their brands and provide fans with additional entertainment options, everyone wins.

At Home in the Crowd

While there’s no shortage of entertainment options available today, consumers have an innate human desire to socialize within the context of a larger community. Sports venues provide this sense of connection to the world at large better than many other public spaces.

For proof of this look no further than the Olympics, an event that captures the world’s imagination every four years. During the 2012 London Olympics, Gensler’s sports practice will be sharing its views on the venues, branding, urban development, and other themes originating from the Olympics but which resonate well beyond the games. We invite you to join the conversation and share your thoughts on the future of sports and sports venues.

Kevin Craft (Gensler Practice Area Communications)

Gensler Project Teams: Pages 1, 4-5
Steven Allen Photography: Page 2
Dean Alexander: Page 3

*For detailed information, please roll over imagery on individual story pages.

Read more about our Sports + Recreation design perspectives:
See GenslerOn for our blog series on all things Olympic

See “Extended Play: planning sports and entertainment districts to thrive 365 days a year”

Download Gensler’s Sports Research Report:  “Home Field Advantage — A New Paradigm for Sports Venues”

Gensler Sports Contacts
Ron Turner (Gensler—Los Angeles): ron_turner@gensler.com
Jonathan Emmett (Gensler—Los Angeles): jonathan_emmett@gensler.com
Keith Fuchigami (Gensler—Los Angeles): keith_fuchigami@gensler.com
Michael Wekesser (Gensler—Los Angeles): michael_wekesser@gensler.com

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Download "Design Update: The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott at L.A. LIVE" (pdf) to learn how L.A.'s sports-entertainment district gets its landmark.