Navigant Research Blog

Smarts for Sports

— April 7, 2017

The annual upsets and thrills of March Madness may be coming to an end, but excitement can still draw attention to major arenas across the country. Intelligent building solutions are heightening the experience for audiences, keeping visitors safe, and delivering cost savings for arena owners by improving maintenance for operators.

In Wisconsin, the president of the Milwaukee Bucks, Peter Feigin, explained the vision for the team’s new arena. It will “create a state of the art environment that is the most fan friendly place anybody can go for sports entertainment in the world. The importance of technology is crucial to that environment. How a state of the art building system can seamlessly integrate to ensure fans are safe, comfortable, and everything they need is at their fingertips … the overarching vision for this development is not just an arena, but a catalyst for positive change throughout our region.” The development of the 714,000-square-foot arena is the center of the planned Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center in downtown Milwaukee. It is a central piece of an overall 30-acre development aimed at revitalizing the city’s downtown. Johnson Controls is the technology partner bringing the smarts to the new home of the Bucks.

There is an important opportunity in the deployment of smart building technologies in arenas. These high profile, multimillion (or even multibillion) dollar facilities are the epicenter of community pride for many cities. The smarts in these facilities can be an effective catalyst for the intelligent buildings industry as a whole. Technologies are here today to completely rewire how facilities are operated to be safe, comfortable, and convenient. The challenge is market awareness and education. How well building owners and managers understand the financial, business, and social benefits of intelligent building technologies can be a huge hurdle for technology adoption.

Convenient

High profile arenas can be a great live action classroom to boost demand for intelligent building technologies. The results can be striking, as WIRED magazine put it with a profile of the new Sacramento King’s Golden 1 Center: “the highest-tech stadium in sports is pretty much a giant Tesla.”

Convenience and information drive the visitor experience at the King’s Golden 1 Center—download an app to receive texts on last minute ticket upgrades, pointers on the best parking, directions to your seat, and even stats on the game. The backbone of customer convenience comes from a rich network of intelligent building technology, sensors, data communications infrastructure, and analytics.

Safe and Comfortable Too

Besides enhancements to the customer experience, owners and operators of smart arenas see other important benefits. The technology infrastructure that pushes information to customers through phone apps can also quickly and efficiently direct staff to ensure the facilities are safe and comfortable. Take a look at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Utah. Due to fan expectations for seamless connectivity during March Madness, the arena deployed a Distributed Antenna System. Two integrations provide parallel benefits. Not only does every visitor on Snapchat get their picture sent to friends, but the system also supports emergency preparedness as a direct network for first responder communications.

The smart arena is the new face of sports and an important avenue for promoting the intelligent buildings industry to fans and ultimately building owners and managers across industries.

 

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