The sports fan experience has been evolving, with the help of technology, for years. This evolution has launched state of the art venues and novel ways to engage. However, the pandemic brings the fan experience to new territory. Bringing insights to the new fan experience are Amy Lukas, Partner, Director of Events, and Darlene Van Uden, Design Director, of Infinite Scale, a sports design consultancy.
After working with a number of professional sports leagues on permanent design elements and special events, including five Superbowls, the organization has a wealth of knowledge. It helped them bring the NHL back to play. Lukas said, “We’ve been working with the NHL for over 12 years, and the limitations of COVID brought about a new way of playing. Once the NHL decided to host the games in Canada, we had two weeks to design, install, and implement.”
One of the most significant challenges was play without fans, but there was a digital integration to bring them there virtually. Fans were on digital screens, bringing some level of excitement. Lukas shared, “When we get back to full stadiums, I think they’ll be a new appreciation of fans being there in person and a bigger focus on enhancing their experience and taking it to the next level.”
Van Luden added, “The switch to presenting sports rather than a direct experience will probably move forward AR and VR to be in the moment. It’s a way to get closer to the game when no one can be close to it. I think we’ll see more catering to the fan’s personal preferences to keep them connected to their teams and players in a new way.”