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One of the biggest stars of Super Bowl 50 is the stadium where the game will be played.
When the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers take the field at Levi's Stadium on February 7, they will play in a state-of-the-art arena that features high-tech amenities, such an app that lets guests order food from their seats. At the $1.2 billion stadium, fans can use a mobile app to manage everything from paperless ticketing to searching for the shortest lines for concessions throughout the stadium. The emergence of Levi's Stadium as a premier place to enjoy sports and special events underscores the importance of experience supported by data as a foundation of location marketing.
Today's sports organizations face a special challenge: They cannot control the quality of the product they deliver, which is especially true of the Super Bowl, one of the most hyped and watched global events, reaching more than 114 million people in 2015. In its 50-year history, the Super Bowl has delivered some thrilling contests, but also some lopsided stinkers.
Consequently, the NFL has increasingly placed more attention on making the Super Bowl an annual location marketing experience, with a high-profile halftime show and special events during the days leading up to the game, such as concerts by Alicia Keys, Chris Isaak and OneRepublic held in a special area of San Francisco (Super Bowl City) designated for Super Bowl-related events (never mind that the actual game is being played miles away from Super Bowl City). Like Black Friday, the Super Bowl has become more than a single day.
For Super Bowl 50, the venue itself is a story. Levi's Stadium (not a SIM client) has earned accolades for its aesthetics and environmental sustainability. But what really makes Levi's Stadium a vanguard experience is its use of technology to enhance the game-viewing experience before and during the game, all centered on mobile.
Before the game, visitors may use the Levi's Stadium app to purchase a parking pass if they're driving, or view public transportation schedules if they're taking light rail or bus options. They can also transfer their tickets and parking passes if necessary.
The app really flexes its muscle on game day. Guests can manage their entire stay at the stadium, akin to the way the My Disney Experience supports users' visits to Walt Disney World. With the app, fans can:
- Use their phone as their ticket.
- Search for the shortest food/beverage lines throughout the stadium, thanks to an interface with beacon technology.
- Order concessions for pick up and retrieve them from an express line -- or have concessions delivered to their seat.
- Watch replays from four different camera angles.
To pull off the experience, Levi's Stadium relies on a rich technology media infrastructure that includes 2,400 TV monitors, 600 security cameras, 370 point-of-sale terminals, 49 miles of beer-carrying pipes, in-stadium beacon devices, and, as reported in The Guardian, "an enormous new fiber system to give it 40 times more internet bandwidth capacity than any known U.S. stadium."
And Levi's Stadium crunches a lot of data to make location matter. The stadium staff relies on real-time data to make mid-course corrections in customer service: for example, identifying where demand is surging at different concession stands in the stadium and then reassigning food runners as needed to manage demand hot spots.
Levi's Stadium also follows a best practice we espouse for using beacons, which are the devices embedded throughout the stadium to enable fans to use the app to handle their needs. As we noted in The Enterprise Guide to Beacons, beacons are best used to enhance an on-location experience (as opposed to sharing content with people when they are outside a location) -- and only when an enterprise has the resources and infrastructure to manage them. It looks like Levi's Stadium has taken the right approach.
Levi's Stadium has been on a journey. The stadium was plagued with problems when it first opened, ranging from difficult parking to some of the seats being overexposed to the sun. But the stadium corrected its service problems, although the sun-drenched seats remain an issue. More than eight of 10 TripAdvisor reviewers rate Levi's Stadium as very good or excellent.
For all the praise Levi's Stadium has received, in 2017 the Atlanta Falcons will open a stadium that promises to be the envy of the sports world. The new Mercedes-Benz Stadium will provide high-tech amenities plus a stunning architectural design that will re-imagine what a football stadium looks like. But until then, Levi's Stadium remains a premier example of combining data and experience to master location marketing.