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FAN ENGAGEMENT FRIDAY: NEWS FROM AROUND THE GROUNDS 24/06/2022

A weekly recap of some of the interesting stories and developments from the educational to the random in the world of fan engagement/experience, stadium/venue news, fan behaviour and psychology, customer service plus much more. Enjoy.

How the St. Louis Blues are turning to startups to bring new technologies to fans

FIFA Announces 16 Host Cities for 2026 World Cup

MLB News: Rob Manfred Wants Fans to Be Able to Watch More Games

What fans want to see from MLS’ new partnership with Apple

Product spotlight: Sports, venue and entertainment security

Customer service seems to belong to a bygone age

NHL Launches AR Replica of Stanley Cup Trophy for Fans to Experience

Sports fans beware: Counterfeit NHL merchandise on the rise during 2022 Stanley Cup Final

Why Avalanche fans sing Blink-182’s ‘All the Small Things’ during every home game at Ball Arena

DOES MARVEL STADIUM PROVIDE A BETTER FAN EXPERIENCE THAN THE MCG?

PPG Paints Arena to implement analytics for smart cameras to monitor fan experience

Drive to Survive’s reach goes beyond F1 fans. Now, other sports want to copy show’s success

How New York Mets Enhanced Fan Experience at Citi Field

F1 Teams Deploy APIs for Edge on Track, in Stands

Sports Fans Twice as Likely to Buy Bitcoin, Ethereum, NFTs

The ever-evolving IPL Fan is looking for more inclusion and skin in the game

The story behind Sevilla’s technology-driven mission in Indian football

Finance expert gives first-hand account after experiencing Spurs’ premium virtual tour

Not Metal Enough – A Psychological Perspective on Gatekeeping Read More: Not Metal Enough – A Psychological Perspective on Gatekeeping

NFL aims to reduce messages to fans from over 4 billion in the past year

National Rugby League Could Introduce Ball-Tracking Technology in 2023 Following Successful Trial

“IPL will become No.1 sports league”: Lalit Modi believes investment in digital will make IPL the best sports league in the world

Reformation is bringing sustainability to the $400 million market for concert merch

Put your fans first and entertain always: Jesse and Emily Cole spent months chasing customers after buying an independent-league ball club in Savannah, Georgia. It didn’t go well until they started doing the opposite of normal

Jessie Ware champions wearable tech making live music accessible for Deaf fans following successful trial stage

Biggest stadium ever? Artist shows what a 1,000,000-seater arena would look like

NFL: Ranking every stadium from ‘Cream Of The Crop’ to ‘Bulldoze And Start Again’

Milwaukee Brewers launch new fan engagement chat experience with AI technology

Security Lessons From Protecting Live Events

From New York to Mumbai, Fanatics to Dream Sports, and NFTs to connected fitness… breaking down the sports tech investment scene

5 Ways Technology is Revolutionizing Customer Service 

3 In 4 Consumers Walk Away If Customer Service Is Poor

Football clubs slammed for taking advantage of fans after hiking season ticket prices

Fans Promised 50% Refund For Cancelled 5th T20I But People Are Pissed With ‘Shameless’ BCCI

American Express creates bespoke experiences at Wimbledon

NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins to Enhance Fan Experience with Smart Camera Applications from Azena

2022 Kantar Fan Engagement Study

Wimbledon, IBM Launch Digital Platform for Player Insights

Women’s State of Origin at Canberra Stadium is more than a game

Champions League: Disabled fans treated like animals – French Senate told

AC MILAN CELEBRATES 60 YEARS OF THE ROLLING STONES WITH A SPECIAL CAPSULE COLLECTION

RANKING NFL STADIUMS BY BEST PREGAME FAN EXPERIENCE

Wimbledon hoping big data will improve fan experience

CHEQ IN: FRIENDS OUTSIDE VENUE CAN ORDER CONCESSIONS FOR FANS AT EVENTS

About half of the UAE’s sports fans prefer watching women’s sports to men’s

The growing relationship between crypto and sport

LaLiga Tech Launches Startup Competition for Fan Engagement

Opinion | Which moments matter most to a sports fan?

Women’s football fans enjoy WSL but unhappy with refereeing, survey finds

6 customer service experience trends to watch in 2022

Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs NRL Fan Experience at Belmore Sports Ground, Sydney, Australia 29/05/2022

Today was a game day fan experience that I’ve been wanting to do since the mid 90’s when I watched the Canterbury Bulldogs defeat Manly in the 1995 ARL Grand Final. 


I started the fan journey with a 25-minute train ride from Central Station to Belmore station before walking around the local streets to soak up the suburb and the game-day vibe. Blue and white streamers, balloons, and posters lined the shopfronts and it was evident that the locals really get behind the Bulldogs and game days here. 


The trip out to Belmore Sports Ground was enjoyable as I talked to a few Bulldogs fans on the train about Terry Lamb and the Dogs on what was a glorious Sunday afternoon in Sydney for my third and final game day this weekend in town. 


Hopping off the train at Belmore it was a quick walk following the Bulldogs fans the short distance to the Belmore ground entrance and through Terry Lamb reserve park. The Bulldog’s street art livened up the concrete facades while gate staff were pleasant, smiling, and wished us a good day at the match. 

I had wanted to check out some of the plaques, murals, memorbillia and the Canterbury Leagues Club which is adjacent to the train station however time got away from me as I wanted to get to the ground early. I’ll endeavour to check these out next time I’m out this way as I hope to be back for another game day at Belmore down the track.


It was really exciting upon entry to just soak up this gorgeous suburban footy ground from the grassy hill to the Peter Moore scoreboard and canteen. I walked around the length and breadth of the venue taking in all the angles from the Bulldog’s front entrance to the white bench seats and the main stand.

 
The food and beverage selection consisted of local food trucks and canteens selling standard footy fare like pies and chips along with kids’ favourites in cotton candy and ice cream while gourmet food items were also on offer and looked tasty from local businesses. Prices were standard from $5-15 while mid-strength cans of beer were $8 with only one beer variety available in Great Northern for obvious reasons given the one-off event here and the planning involved for catering. As for the beer tray price watch, these were free here. It’s always interesting to see the little things like the price of beer trays. Over this weekend they’ve ranged from $1.50 to 80c to free!


The fan engagement for kids and families was quality with face painting and kids jumping castle but even more, kids were just having fun rolling down the hills and passing or kicking footies with their families which looked like an enjoyable experience.


Toilets were scattered on either side and lines were only really heavy at halftime with men and women being able to get in and out fairly quickly from what I could witness. 


The hill was absolutely packed and looked incredible today with Bulldogs, Dragons, and Illawarra Steelers fans with 16,991 fans turning out to make this a huge sell-out crowd. It was a real carnival footy vibe with fans fully engaged in the community spirit of suburban footy as well as reconciliation week and the focus of the Indigenous round. 


The Indigenous focus for NRL Indigenous Round featured a respectful welcome to country, singers, and music on the land of the Dharug, Eora & Bediagal Peoples. 


The dogs tried to come back a few times but the Dragons pulled away too quickly and ran out 34-24 winners on a sunny but very windy and chilly day at Belmore. I was very glad I brought my heavy retro Bulldogs jersey to the game as it was very chilly on the hill by 4pm.


The merchandise tent and mobile store had fans lined up as items like the indigenous jersey and retro cord Bulldogs caps went flying out the door. I really liked seeing the use of the old Bulldogs logos too around the venue and on merchandise and hope other teams start to bring these back as well.

I also thought that it was clever that some fans had brought in their own milk crates to enable their kids to get a better vantage point on the hill as well.


The exit from the match was easy with the train station right at the stadium and within a 5-8 minute walk before the 20-odd minute train ride back to the Sydney CBD. 


I was so excited today to tick off another Australian sporting venue in Belmore Sports Ground and would encourage any fan to get out here the next time they bring a game day here as it is truly something special to witness at such an iconic ground.

Fan Engagement Friday: News from around the grounds 27/05/2022

A weekly recap of some of the interesting stories and developments from the educational to the random in the world of fan engagement/experience, stadium/venue news, fan behaviour and psychology and customer service plus much more. Enjoy

AFL, Reddit announce world’s first sports partnership for Reddit Avatars

NHL mixed reality event

Football fans, rejoice: Stadium internet speeds are set for a significant boost

NFL Fan Rankings: Washington Worst?!

The Best Customer Service Software of 2022 Has Been Revealed by End Users

Sports Business Journal names Climate Pledge Arena sports facility of the year

Ordr Keeps Fans in the Seats, All by Making Food and Merch Only a Tap of an App Away

Fans Can Now Win the Stanley Cupple by Playing the NHL’s Version of Wordle

Football fans convicted of taking cocaine at matches could face five-year stadium bans

NTT reveals new data boost to improve IndyCar fan experience

‘The end goal is to turn fan engagement into fan monetisation’: Sportradar’s data-led approach to capitalising on the US$270bn sports betting market

Arsenal corner flag: Using data to reach club’s 750m fans

Populous Projects Win Facility of the Year, Event of the Year at 2022 Sports Business Awards

WNBA Fans Criticize Coinbase Sponsorship Amid Market Crash

FA investigating pitch invasions, condemns ‘anti-social behaviour’ from fans

Nine Techniques To Keep Customer Support Conversations Productive And Positive

Tottenham’s Todd Kline talks stadium naming rights, NFTs, and thinking like a “content creation machine”

Virtual stadium developer plays in $3.2 million to up the game of e-sports in metaverse

Sports venues create quiet refuge for fans with sensory needs

Sensory rooms becoming more commonplace in sports venues

Building Long-term Loyalty Through Incentives

NBA Top Shot Reaches $1B in Sales Amid NFT Market Downturn

The Crypto Market’s Impact on Sports Sponsorships

Adam Silver Says NBA Fan Aggression Not Caused by Sports Betting

LaLiga to build official metaverse for fans and partners with TVM

Top 5 Customer Service Skills To Encourage In Your Staff

Customer Experience Trumps Even the Best Technologies

F1 trials paddock robots to help fans in hospital meet drivers

Qatar’s ‘Dr Cool’ keeps World Cup stadiums chilly with solar-powered AC

Manchester City FC Partners with Quidd to Launch New NFT Collection

Blockchain, crypto set to take sports industry beyond NFT collectibles

Drama and atmosphere should be the only metrics in Australia’s stadium wars

Japan’s pro sports teams find use for empty stadiums

Yokohama BayStars baseball team offers home stadium’s private boxes to teleworkers

In first year with fans at Allegiant Stadium, the no-show rate was 14.3 percent

Proceeds from recycling at Mercedes-Benz Stadium builds new homes on Atlanta’s Westside through new program

Is Customer Loyalty Dead?

World Cup host, Qatar with air-conditioned stadiums to serve as a model

Dazzling But Empty Stadiums a Symbol of China’s Fading Football Dream

Prices are surging, but fans are still paying top dollar to watch live sports

Placemaking, legacy and the 2032 Games

A 2022 blueprint for customer service excellence

How to Identify the Pain Points That Make Customers Decide What They’re Going to Buy

At Your Service: How To Wow Your Customers By Creating New Revenue Streams

Case Study: Real-Time Fan Engagement Explodes With Live, Local Access to NFL Draft

USGA Announces Fan Offerings for Women’s Open

Major League soccer club Columbus Crew gains the Edge

UofL announces WiFi, gate entry upgrades to Cardinal Stadium driven by fan feedback from 2021

Manchester City on taking the ‘City DNA’ global

Eagles become 1st team to expand fan outreach efforts to Africa

‘Way cooler than standing in line’: Mariners fans get first crack at Amazon tech in new ballpark market

5G to Transform Fan Experience at Indy 500

Cavaliers on Top 25 Most Innovative Teams in Sports List

The rise of the always-on mobile user and implications for customer service and retention 

The Verdict Is In: Customer Service Isn’t Human Enough

A Golf Fan Just Got A Deal With Michelob

Deloitte 2022 Sports Industry Outlook

Avoid these common mistakes to create real customer loyalty

FC Barcelona, the world’s most innovative team according to Sports Innovation Lab

Old Trafford will have ‘fans, not corporates’ at its heart, promises architect tasked with redevelopment

NRL MAGIC ROUND 2022 Fan Experience Review, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane 13-15 May 2022

The annual NRL Magic Round event was back at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium for 2022 and despite a week when the rain across Queensland caused persistent widespread flooding the event still drew over 100,000 fans through the turnstiles across the three event days.

With the rain falling heavily across the Friday and Saturday but easing on the third day, fans made their way into the stadium precinct decked out with ponchos and umbrellas but still managed to bring all their colour and atmosphere from the thousands of retro to modern rugby league jerseys on display from fans of all ages. This is a true celebration of rugby league and league fans with supporters rocking Gold Coast Chargers and Seagulls kits to South Queensland Crushers and Western Reds jerseys amongst the smorgasbord of the current 16 NRL teams. It’s this colour, fan passion and atmosphere that is a magical component of this event off the field.

The downloadable stadium map and event guide were handy additions to kick start the planning of the fan journey at Magic Round with the map coming in handy to locate all of the activations both inside and outside the venue. The 32-page event guide had information on merchandise, activations, match-ups, key timings and more valuable information to ensure fans knew everything they needed to know to capitalise on a massive fun weekend of rugby league.

After reminiscing over some old footy cards and beers we decided to head in for the matches on Saturday at 1PM. We made our way into the stadium precinct on the train from Dutton Park station into Roma Street station in the city with the train being packed with rugby league fans in a positive vibe for the three matches being played today for day two. It was a sea of league fans of all ages walking through The Barracks centre in Milton down to Suncorp Stadium and despite the rain that lingered for most of the day and night the fans were still in a very upbeat mood with the bars along Caxton Street pumping with conversations, beers and footy food as thousands of fans commandeered the road heading down to the venue. It was also nice to see the new artwork ‘Welcome’ which featured 25 laser-cut steel hunting boomerangs with welcome greetings in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language dialects.

What’s On at the Stadium: Precinct

Making my way around the Suncorp Stadium precinct from the Caxton Street end to the Roma Street end the event offered an outstanding first impression of the event presentation that included plenty of activations for fans of all ages such as:

1. Bundy Pop Up Bar

Fans were able to grab a drink from the Bundy Pop Up Bar with the first fans to purchase a Bundy from the Bundaberg Pop Up Bar each day of NRL Magic Round receiving a double pass upgrade for a specific match into the Bundy Backyard Deck inside the stadium. This bar shed was at an entrance point of the NRL Fan Zone area and it was good to see security guards helping people by warning them to be careful entering the space as the ground was slippery and getting slightly muddy.

2. Chemist Warehouse Chill Out Zone

This was a relaxing spot for fans to kick back and chill with deck chairs and beanbags to watch the big screen during and between matches. I believe the deck chairs may have been packed up due to the rain at some point as it would not have been the best setting for them with the rain falling nonstop. Fans also received free gift bags that included chemist items like moisturiser and sunscreen along with a gym towel which for many fans, myself included is stuff I will actually use.  Mascot Wally the Chemist Warehouse Mascot (how did they come up with a mascot name for CW?) surprised fans with upgrades into the Chemist Warehouse Deck inside the venue while there was a fun reaction wall game to play. I finished on 29 which wasn’t too bad considering the top score was 37. I’ll put that down to my good skills in quick thinking and reaction time to putting out arguments amongst grade 4 students that made me go fairly well in this fun game.

3. CUB Great Northern Bar

The CUB beer garden was open between matches where fans could enjoy a drink from the Great Northern bar. The first 50 people to purchase a drink also received a stubby cooler. This was a nice set up that faced away from the venue and towards Caxton street with a live stage below featuring artists playing tunes.

4. Ampol Magic Carpet

Fans were able to experience walking down the red carpet by taking their best Ampol Magic Carpet photo. By sharing it across socials they had the chance to be upgraded into the Ampol Deck inside the stadium. We had a go of this and I even used the fuel bowser emoji in my witty caption all to no avail….must of been the Illawarra Steelers jersey I was wearing. Still a lot of fun for my friends and I to take home a few photos.

5. YOUI Magic Kick

Fans could come down to the Youi Magic Kick in the Precinct to have a go at kicking a footy through the posts!

6. Harvey Norman Photo Station

If fans visited the Harvey Norman station they could collect their FREE magic round photo as well as purchase limited edition Magic Round personalised NRL products. This was a fun activation with my mates and I getting snapped for an event pic that was free to take home. The personalised merch also looked really colourful too.

7. Letter Lights

Fans could grab a photo in front of the Giant Magic Round Letter lights to then share it on channels to #NRLMagic.

8. Swyftx Giant Human Claw

The Swyftx Giant Human Claw was giving away thousands of dollars in prizes over NRL Magic Round weekend, including $5,000 in Bitcoin every day.  Fans could come down and participate in the human-sized version of the traditional arcade game to win these prizes. I watched this for a few participants to have their go and it was actually pretty entertaining. There were obviously a lot of OWHS things to consider with this activation and the weather did not make it any easier. Watching a fan dive down to get an NRL ball and then that ball revealing a prize was quite entertaining and there was certainly enough interest from the fans who had lined up to have a go.

9. Food Trucks

There were plenty of food truck options with gourmet offerings including Eat Fresh kebabs, Chipstars, Brat Haus, Dinky D’d Doughnuts and more. $7 for a dagwood dog and $13 kebabs were affordable for a snack in this fan precinct even if you weren’t intending to go into the venue as this was a fun spot to sit, watch the games and drink and eat.

10. EISS Super Ball

Get your photo taken in front of the giant EISS Super and Steeden Inflatable football.

11. Kids Zone

Magic Round brings the festival vibes for the whole family! Kids were able to get a photo with their favourite team’s mascot, get geared up with face painting, & show off their skills with the magic pass the Ball. With the rain falling all around some fan activities were slow to get going as fans didn’t want to wait in the lines with the rain however it didn’t stop many families and kids from still participating in these free fun activities to take home some memories.

12. NRL Merchandise

Fans could grab their Magic Round mementos exclusively at the venue at the six or so merchandise outlets around the stadium! All 16 teams’ merchandise was also available for purchase like retro jerseys. I was able to pre-plan the purchase of some merch for my daughter like a football and a bucket hat for my work at school by looking through the event guide before heading in, however due to the popularity of many items, these sold out quick smart which was unfortunate but shows the popularity of fans who want to support the NRL, love rugby league and want to rep all 16 teams. Plus the designs were pretty neat too.

What’s On at the Stadium: In-Ground

1. Telstra Live Stage

The Telstra Live Stage hosted music entertainment, DJ’s and performances throughout the NRL Magic Round weekend and was located in the corner of the venue.

2. KFC Fry/No Fry Banners

Fans could give their viewer’s verdict with the KFC Fry/No Fry banners. KFC brand ambassadors inside the stadium handed out Fry/No Fry banners to fans. KFC was also surprising and delighting lucky fans across the weekend with KFC vouchers to redeem KFC.

3. Steeden Magic Ball

Players were throwing Steeden NRL Magic Round footies into the crowd after each match for fans to keep as well as using the tee shirt gun to fire off what I presume were jerseys or shirts from various teams.

4. KFC Bucket Catch

Two lucky fans picked from the crowd matched up against each other on the field during half-time at selected matches across NRL Magic Round weekend. Each fan had to catch as many footies as possible in their KFC bucket to WIN KFC vouchers and merchandise!

5. Telstra Fan Cam

Fans could get involved with the Telstra Fan Cam to win a signed jersey from their favourite NRL team.

6. Ampol Pump It Up Cam

Fans could show their support for their team with the Ampol Pump It Up Cam for their chance to win a $100 fuel voucher. The big screens featured hilarious kiss cams, ‘make some noise’ call outs as well as oblivious cam and a few other funny moments that got a good reception from the crowd. 

7. Telstra Tracker LED Race

Lucky fans across NRL Magic Round weekend got the chance to race against some of the fastest players in the game. The one we saw was able to beat the Telstra Tracker and was quite fast.

8. Ampol Deck

The Ampol ‘Australia’s Own’ Deck was Australian-themed and included a full food & beverage package for guests.  Fans could take their best red-carpet photo at the Ampol Magic Carpet activation in the stadium precinct and share it across socials for the chance to be upgraded into the Ampol Deck. This was a brightly blue coloured event space at the Caxton Street end inside one of the stadium corners and stood out amongst the other social spaces.

9. Bundy Backyard Deck

The Bundy Backyard Deck was the ideal spot to kick back with mates for the best seats in the house at NRL Magic Round.  Guests received full food and beverage offering and the opportunity to meet and greet with NRL legends.  Fans who were one of the first to purchase a Bundy from the Bundy Pop Up Bar in the stadium precinct each day of NRL Magic Round were lucky to receive a double pass upgrade for a specific match into the Bundy Backyard Deck inside the stadium for the best seats in the house. This was another themed social space that looked really impressive for the presentation in one of the corners of the venue.

10. Chemist Warehouse Deck

Guests to the Chemist Warehouse deck received full food and beverage offering, the opportunity to meet and greet with NRL legends and an exclusive product gift bag upon arrival. A relaxing spot in the corner of the venue.

11. Free flags for supporter bay fans

Fans who purchased a supporter bay ticket were able to collect a free supporter flag that featured all 16 club logos on a colourful flag design. They were handing these out to fans everywhere and I was lucky enough to get one for my daughter which will go nicely in her room. A really nice simple touch for a physical item that fans could take home.

12. Lighting

The light shows and themed LED lighting was vibrant and looked good both inside the stadium and on TV. The ability to switch between themes either teams or colourful light shows added to the atmosphere and created a positive vibe to make this a big-time event. The fireworks and flames at the end of the try lines also pumped up the crowd either when the teams were running out or when tries were scored.

Fan Experience Elements

While thousands of fans made for a busy stadium precinct both inside and out it was clear that venue did a very good job of keeping fans safe and ensuring the fan experience was quality. With the rain falling constantly and fans getting wet it was good to see the concourses being managed well to allow the safe and efficient flow of fans despite fans crowding along the bays to try to stay dry and still watch the game. Security and ushers were managing this as best they could under the circumstances.

The staff were really efficient and attentive as I made three enquiries and had interactions with different staff members over the course of the night for some things that I thought needed to be addressed such as glass in the concourse area, catering staff inadvertently blocking a stairwell and an aggressive fan who was throwing items onto the field and agitating other fans. In every situation, the venue and security staff were very helpful and switched on to ensure fans were having an enjoyable event experience.

Food and beverage options were plentiful and inclusive with the frozen cocktails proving to be very popular amongst fans along with Pirate Life craft beer for beverages. It was good to see the dedicated vegan stand in action along with vegan and gluten-free options available in the concession outlets while there were combo deals available as well. From pies, pizza slices and chicken wings and chips to American BBQ, fish and chips and hot dogs, there really was something here to tempt all tastebuds with many prices being affordable and expected for major event days. Beers ranged from $9-11 with most food around the $6-16 mark. I had a fairly decent salad sandwich and 600ml Coke Zero which came in at $11 and which I thought was pretty good value for a footy feed.

Toilets were clean and lines, even for female fans seemed to be moving fast. Staff were abundant around the venue and were seen cleaning constantly throughout the night. I said to one staffer that he was doing a good job and he said no one has ever said that before. It’s something I make a point of doing, especially for cleaning staff and young folks on the concession registers. They do a good job and deserve to be told they’re going well so if you’re at a venue then make sure you give them a little shout out.

The exit at the end of the night was efficient and seamless with buses, trains and taxis all flowing from the venue and making it easy for fans to get home safely. Way-finding signs as well as helpful staff directing fans also just made the exit swift and simple after a long day at the venue. 

NRL Magic Round is an event like no other. The fans are equal to the athletes in terms of the atmosphere and colourful vibe that the event brings and it’s certainly a major sporting event that I reccomend any rugby league or sports fan to go and check out.

Gold Coast Suns AFL Fan Experience at Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast, Australia 24/4/22

On a wet and chilly Sunday afternoon I hit the highway from Brisbane to head down the M1 to the Gold Coast to take in the Gold Coast Suns AFL fan experience at Metricon Stadium in Nerang.

Today’s match was to be the Suns versus the Brisbane Lions in the annual QCLASH derby as well as representing an ANZAC Day ceremony to honour our servicemen and women.

I prepped for the match day by getting my daughter Ramona all dressed up in a Gold Coast Suns dress that I bought for her to show her support for another Queensland team (her first ever dress- which she hated, the dress that is!) while I pulled out my Brisbane Bears wool guernsey, grabbed my Sherrin footy, new Lions cord cap from the Lions shop and some fresh ANZAC biscuits to share with mates and laminated my printed out match day ticket to save as my ticket memento to go into my box of 1000+ tickets from 30 years of live events – anything to keep the physical part of the event day ticking on in my opinion.

The fan journey started at 1pm with a quick 50 minute car journey via tolls from Brisbane to Nerang Railway Station. Nerang Station has ample parking and a lockable bicycle station as well as open bike racks. I made sure to park via the exits under security cameras for better safety and to get away faster at the end of the night however by 2pm the car park was filling up with Lions and Suns fans meaning that this is a safe and secure place to leave your car and head to the match due to the number of people coming through here on match days.

Once parked I made my way through the station to the bus terminal area where the game day buses were starting up at 2pm to ferry fans to Metricon Stadium. The buses were free for fans with the transport included within the ticket, as was the train from Brisbane if fans had chosen to catch the train from Brisbane to Nerang Station. However with track work today on the Gold Coast line, driving to the station and then catching this free bus seemed like the best option.

The bus driver was cheerful as Suns and Lions fans hoped on the bus and I was impressed with security greeting everyone that was getting on and asking us who would win while the bus driver was equally impressive ensuring that fans were safely picked up along the way despite there only being the one designated stop at the venue which was a helpful thing to do for those fans who were walking to the ground. The bus arrived directly outside the stadium after a short five minute journey which made it a seamless entry into the ground. It was also important to note that since my last visit here a couple of years ago, parking restrictions have gone up similar to around The Gabba and Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane meaning restrictions apply on match days and it is not advisable to try to park as you risk a fine.

Parking is also available within the stadium for only $20 via the Ticketmaster site however this does seem to sell out quickly in the week leading up to match day. Metricon also has a ride share and public pick up and drop off zone near the venue too with accessible entry and exit to the stadium.

Making our way into the stadium was seamless and we were greeted by a ‘hello’ and ‘thanks for coming’ by the venue staff. I then made my way over to the AFL Record stand and picked up a copy of the ANZAC round AFL Record which is still a bargain at $5 and a game day tradition I never miss.

This is one of my favourite AFL venues in Australia for a number of reasons. The views are great wherever you sit while the ease of access to get in and out to get food and drinks or to go to the toilets is also not a hassle. I love a venue you can walk the full distance around and here at Metricon Stadium you can walk both the inside and outside concourses to take in the full sights and smells of the match day as well as accessing all the types of food on offer and not being cut off by security or ushers.

On the food and beverage front while there were food trucks and permanent food stalls in abundance I found the food offering we sampled to be below par and quite disappointing however this was no doubt not the opinion of every fan who purchased food items at the event. The hot chips we purchased for $6.50 were flavourless (my friend had a delicious peppery salt on his while mine had nothing which was odd) and undercooked while the hot dog looked quite sad presentation wise for $6.50 and the pie for $5.75 had hard pastry like a rock. There was an assortment of options from Chipsters offering dagwood dogs and loaded fries to a Kebab stand meaning there truly was something for every fan to get around. There were also wings and chips and Hawaiian burger combos along with churros and even popcorn boxes to satisfy fans tastes and preferences for both young and old with the more substantial offerings costly $15-$17.

Prices seemed quite high compared to other venues for items such as hot dogs and chips while the beer was fresh and on par with Australian venues with a Carlton Mid tinnie (served into a plastic cup) at $8.95 while Great Northern schooners were $9.80 and craft beer from Pirate Life Brewing Co (CUB/South Australian) was $11.20 for their mid-strength or $8.50 for their 0.9% light beer which all in all represented normal pricing and a good variety for beer drinkers. Furthermore some bars did not have electronic boards displaying prices or price lists so you weren’t sure how much you were paying until it was round up at the til.

The venue has an impressive outside concourse as as well as an inside open concourse which offers plenty of space to roam, order food and drinks as well as find a space to sit and take in the event away from your actual seats. It’s one of my favourite grounds because of the open space and the flexibility you have to walk around the venue on a game day. There are multiple member’s bars (one with a live band called The Fifth Quarter) as well as a Carlton Draught bar for Suns members and fans while there are chairs and tables and plenty of green space including a massive oval only 50 metres from the stands where you can kick footies on all throughout the match day. This is a big incentive for families and young fans who who come along as they can bring in their footballs to the match and head out for a pre, mid or post game kick as we did with our own Sherrin that was a lot of fun.

The sponsor activation social spaces were impressive and included the Carlton Draught bar and a comfy couch seating area overlooking the field of play (could not see sponsor, perhaps Metricon). There were two sponsor activation set ups that really caught my eye though and these included the Metricon Homes ‘Terrace’ that was a fully fledged house within the stadium that included a balcony overlooking the field while the Plungie Pool area was also eye-catching with its pool, lifeguard and blue astroturf seating.

The toilets here were clean and spacious with no lines seen throughout the night for either the women’s or men’s with the men’s having a lot of space to walk in and out quickly with soap and tap all working fine. Hand sanitisers were available around the ground and after checking three which had sanitiser in them on my travels around the venue it was good to see them filled up unlike on recent stadium visits where they have been on show but not filled up.

The views are simply breathtaking here with views on the ground level or up in the stands affording fans a cracking close up view of the action no matter the seating rake. Behind the goals at the scoreboard is also a place worth sitting and while not undercover affords fans a close up view of the action. Sitting high up in section 216 we did still get slightly wet as the rain permeated through the worn roof tarps with the roof, rails and shades all looking like they need a thorough clean. The way-finding in the stadium was not too difficult to see where to go for food, seating sections or toilets but I thought it could be made a bit more clearer and in larger text to make it more visible. I saw a few ushers on the night cheerfully helping fans however there was not one in our stand or the one adjacent, however it seemed that fans made their way to their seats easily with the night running very smoothly as well for stadium staff. Accessible seating is clearly marked and available for those fans needing it while outside the concourses there are merchandise stands offering both Suns and away fans the option of securing a piece of merch.

The Suns fan engagement really stands out and is underrated in my opinion both for AFL teams and in other Australian sporting teams. The Suns really cater well for families and kids with a big feature being their Suns ‘Little Legends’ train that runs around the venue picking up young fans and families and taking them on a fun casual train ride around the outside of the stadium concourse. The Suns do a lot for their members with the social spaces previously listed however they also have a member raise their Suns flag up the flagpole each game while they also have a junior reporter, Suns photo wall, face painting, a kids zone out the back and a member’s guard of honour. Screen activations like Air Guitar and the on-field kick the footy into the Plungie Pool were also fun to watch – I reckon I could have nailed the kick into the footy easily (It’s all about wearing the right shoes for on field fan engagement if you’re ever selected to participate!).

It was also good to see the way the Suns acknowledge their members with big plaques inside the venue honouring those fans who have shown their dedication as members along with history charts across the seating bowl that highlight the Suns formation and history on the Gold Coast over the past decade.

The Suns ANZAC Day ceremony was handled respectfully and included a marching band, the last post and the national anthems and it was good to see everyone take their hats off and stand in silence to appreciate the ANZACs and what this day means to so many Australian and New Zealander’s.

While it was an entertaining game in the rain, the Lions ended up running away with the win 132-80 before the final siren sounded and fans made their exits. I found it easy to leave the venue and the signage for the buses back to Nerang Station or to Broadbeach were easily identifiable with bus staff also speaking to fans to ensure they were headed in the right direction. Within five minutes of lining up we were on a bus and on our way back to the train station which again only took five minutes journey before heading back to the cars and home within an hour to Brisbane.

A Gold Coast Suns AFL game day at Metricon Stadium is a very worthy event day visit in my opinion, either as a Suns fan or as in my case travelling for an away day as a Lions fan. From the views and the big oval for a kick to the Suns fan engagement andd the ease of the fan journey both in and out, it really represents an enjoyable AFL match day for Aussie Rules fans. There is so much on here for families and fans with the Suns clearly going the extra mile to create lasting memories for their members and fans and I could not more highly rate the Suns fan experience as an event worth checking out.

North Melbourne/Western Bulldogs AFL Fan Experience at Marvel Stadium, Melbourne, Australia 15/4/22

On a mild April day in Melbourne I set out for two games in the city with the first one taking place at Marvel Stadium in Docklands at 4pm before heading across town to AAMI Park later in the night.

I started my fan journey to Marvel Stadium in the city by catching the free 96 tram from our accommodation to within a 5 minute walk of the stadium gates. I first walked around the ground taking in the Kangaroos fan zone and members tent area with spin to win games, free GOAL cards and photo opportunities for fans young and old. I checked out the basketball court and the mural as well as some of the Marvel world entertainment like the pillar wraps and the rock climbing Spiderman wall that was not in use today. The walk from Southern Cross Station along the top concourse is always a special moment in Melbourne as thousands of fans make the pilgrimage in to the venue dressed in their guernseys and scarves.

I picked up my copy of the AFL Record and spoke to the seller who said that it’s still selling very well on game days as fans love the physical memento to take home. It’s sad in a way with QR coded digital tickets that we don’t have as many physical items to take from the game anymore like ticket stubs.

The match today was an AFL game between North Melbourne Kangaroos and Western Bulldogs that was scheduled for a 4.20pm bounce as part of the annual Good Friday Appeal match which both teams had worked well on for press all week in the city and thus resulted in a very good crowd. Tickets were well priced with myself being able to pick up a $15 Western Bulldogs ticket via a targeted Facebook post that had no extra booking fees added on as part of the deal.

The COVID check in process was seamless and easy with multiple friendly staff on hand to assist fans. I received a hello and welcome to the venue on entry and found it impressive to see the back of the staff shirts saying ‘Can we help you?’ as well as the IPTV screens displaying similar information about talking to staff if you need anything. I went around to the Customer Service Centre to ask some questions about the game day and found that the staffer here was very well educated on the game day and venue facilities. The hand sanitisers around the ground were mostly filled with one either not working properly or out of sanitiser. The toilets were clean and staff were seen to be doing a really good job of cleaning the venue as the game went on and of ensuring patrons were kept safe especially with the cordoned off roped area when the coaches were making their way back to the stands.

The joint banner and legends kick to kick were clever fan engagement ideas to bring people together for a laugh and a positive moment at the game and there was no doubt that a lot of funds were raised for the Good Friday Appeal.

The F&B options were plentiful with the standard fare of chips ($4.50), pie ($4.50) and hot dog ($6) however the best feature here is the free sauce! Not 30c, not 50c, not even a $1 for sauce but FREE! This might seem small but these things, these little things go a long way for the fan experience not least family budgets when it comes to things like buying food and drinks at a game. I really liked how the IPTV screens displayed the time til bounce and also how you can just pull up and drink a beer or have a bite on the concourse benches that run along the venue facing the field without being ushered on my staff.

There are many quality options to choose from and the pricing is quite affordable too including Smoke and Smouler BBQ, GAMI Chicken and Sweeter Life which was a hit with kids selling lolly bags and popcorn. It was good to see vegan options in burgers as well as gluten free pies making Marvel quite an inclusive venue when it comes to food options.

It was good to see the work the stadium does for accessibility and inclusion with their kids Stadium Sensory Room with sensory bags for kids including noise cancelling headphones, fidget tools, visual cue cards.

I loved the KEG Room I passed which when I ventured further around I thought could be a decent fan social space if you knocked out a window from the inside of it as it had an epic view of the field from up here. On the topic of beers, Great Northern’s were $10.50 while 4 Pines craft beer was $12.50.

Crews were collecting for the appeal while they were also giving out free hot cross buns to fans which was a welcome surprise.

I found it interesting that the inside of the venue had so much Marvel theming around the venue from life size statues to wall wraps and even height charts and photo ops yet they were branded with Marvel characters and not AFL players/themes. Maybe all kids like Marvel characters but I’d love to see an AFL all team character compare your height chart or an AFL footy photo opp booth. I know that the venues name has a lot to do with this but even the fan engagement on field was ‘pose like a superhero’ and not really AFL related.

The atmosphere was really pumping for this Good Friday Appeal AFL match and I was really impressed by the quality F&B on offer, fan engagement from North Melbourne, the team work from both teams media and marketing teams in the lead up to the game, the focus on inclusion and the venues focus on helping fans have the best fan experience they possibly can.

Melbourne Rebels Super Rugby Fan Experience at AAMI Park, Melbourne, Australia 15/4/22

For my second game of today I skipped across town after the AFL game at Marvel Stadium back to AAMI Park to take in the Melbourne Rebels Super Rugby match.

Making the fan journey from Southern Cross Station to AAMI Park I hopped on a free tram and then walked from the free tram boundary in the city to the venue which only took about 20 minutes (10 tram and 10 walk). I made my way down to the stadium and took some pictures along the outside concourse of the set up with the flags and LED screen having changed to represent tonights match and hirer in the Rebels.

Once again I found that the staff and COVID check in process was easy and staff were helpful and kind with greeting fans for the game. I made my way into the ground noticing a massive decrease in the presence of Victorian Police for this match compared to Tuesday night’s A-League game.

My review of the F&B can be found on the recent Melbourne Victory fan experience recap in these blogs however I did try a beer for the first time this trip having had wisdom teeth taken out while down here on holiday and unable to drink and despite the price at $11.80 for a craft beer, it was delicious and fresh and hit the spot on another mild night in Melbourne. I also liked the look of the FAT YAK beer bar outlet that was branded in all FAT YAK related livery.

I’m not quite sure what the #BURNCITYREBELS means, maybe Mel-BURN but I did like the branding and design that they are using for it which is different to what a lot of other clubs are using.

The fan engagement and crowd energy was good with a fun HT kick comp for young fans while the crowd MC and music kept the atmosphere moving along in the venue. It wasn’t the most spectacular turn out but this is an AFL city and even factoring in COVID issues and the reasons that fans are staying away it makes it hard for any team anywhere in the world to go back to what crowds were like in 2019. I think the Rebels are doing a very good job and know for a fact that they have made some really smart hires in recent times, people with good creative minds who will add to this business and bring some of their own quality experiences to the team.

The game was a solid contest too with it going back and forth but eventually getting away from the Rebels who went down to the Reds 36-32.

Ticket prices were very affordable too ranging from $9 kids to $24 adults.

It was also great to see a female ref out there as well but of course we still have a long way to go for all women in sport.

When I made my way around the venue again for photos and to talk to staff I checked on the toilets and hand sanitisers and they were all working and clean.

It was a very enjoyable night at the Rebels match in Melbourne and I’d encourage anyone, even die-hard AFL fans to give it a go and take in a Super Rugby match here at AAMI Park.

Melbourne Victory A-League Fan Experience at AAMI Park, Melbourne, Australia 12/4/22

On a chilly Melbourne night I hit the ground and ventured out to Melbourne Victory’s mid week Tuesday night A-League match against the Brisbane Roar at AAMI Park.

While the game finished in a 0-0 draw, it was still a very entertaining match.

It’s always a nice quick walk or tram ride to the ground here and takes about 15-20 minutes from the top end of the city by foot or about 10-15 minutes on the tram from Flinders Street Station. It is just outside the free tram network so it’s advisable to walk or cycle if you can. There is motorcycle and cycle parking around however while be careful, while walking into the stadium outside concourses, a motorcycle mounted the kerb and nearly crashed into me while trying to park without looking and without any stadium management of these motorcycles. I asked a staffer about this and they said that the bikes just come up and park at will. I had not seen them park like this before so will keep my eyes peeled next time while walking along the outside concourse.

I had a really nice chat with a stadium staffer called Catherine/Katherine outside the ground who was so jovial and had superb customer service skills as she helped fans with information on the match one on one and also over her loudspeaker. I mentioned I was down from Brisbane and she said that they had multiple QR vaccination and check in posters who those who needed them so that sounded like they had prepared well for all events.

The check in and vaccination process was easy and seamless and the staff were also kind, helpful and respectful and it appeared that fans were also being respectful back to them. I checked the hand sanitiser stations around the ground and every one I tried worked and had sanitiser in them as well. The toilets were also spotless and well maintained throughout the night.

Many F&B outlets were closed however since last visiting it did seem that there had been some good improvements with craft beer from 4 Pines (CUB non IBA) and a fish and chip stand that looked like it was offering really decent sized portions of quality items. The usual other items were also on sale with items including hot chips ($6), pie ($5) and hot dogs ($5.50) while beers were priced from $8.20 (light beer 375ml Cascade Light poured into a schooner 425ml) to $9.80 Great Northern and $11.80 for a Balter Captain Sensible (mid strength) or a 4 Pines Pacific Ale (full strength – unsure or if mid version of this SKU). I did the maths and it does appear that it is cheaper to buy mid/full strength beers than it is to buy the light beer by only a few cents and I did think that it was slightly cheeky that the light beer was only 375ml and not a schooner 425ml.

Lines were moving fast and staff were helpful and working fast for fans while there was also a coffee cart selling snacks like hot jam doughnuts. There was a point of difference in the quality of the food servings as well with buttermilk chicken tenders and chicken schnitzel burgers as well as fresh sandwiches on offer all ranging from $9.50- $17.

The entrance into the ground through the gates with my QR code ticket was seamless and I was greeted with a hello and welcome which always gets the night off to a good start. Now with 2-3-4 waves of entry with security screening, wanding, vax and check-in checks plus ticket entry its so important that staff are trained in not only their role but also in offering superb customer service. They are often the first point of contact for game day on the fans journey to the event so a nice welcome goes a long way for fans to get the night off to a positive start.

The concourses were clean and staff were friendly and helpful when I asked questions about the venue on my way around taking in the game day vibes. The Melbourne Victory fans really built up the atmosphere with their songs, chants and enthusiasm and it was a credit to them for the atmosphere and noise they created on the night. The players also made sure to come round to the fans after the 0-0 result to thank them which was good to see.

I thought that the community partnership with the TAC was a good idea and offered fans some fan engagement through a good community message around avoiding drink driving and planning their exit from the game. They had these cards that you could scratch off to win prizes and were giving them out to families plus merchandise to young fans.

The high police presence was very off putting and confronting. I asked Police and stadium reps why the large presence, especially on a Tuesday night during school holidays and while staff were friendly and positive about it being due to previous incidents, VIC Police were rude and came across as unhelpful and agitated, which in terms of first impressions for a fan is really not the best look.

Overall, for a Tuesday night mid week match it was really good to get back to AAMI Park and take in a Victory game. I highly recommend coming down here to check it out.

Brisbane Roar A-League Fan Experience, Moreton Daily Stadium, Redcliffe, 3/4/22

On a gorgeous blue sky sunny day in Brisbane I headed out to Redcliffe to take in the Brisbane Roar A-League match versus Newcastle Jets at the boutique and impressive Moreton Daily Stadium.

Driving from Brisbane today as public transport can be tricky with the closest train station to the stadium 2km away, it was very nice to be able to get free parking and walk 50m to the venue gates.

Before the match I went on the Moreton Daily Stadium website to plan my visit and while the website has had a good refresh especially with the hype reel video, it was disappointing to see that the events page had not been updated since February with no mention or information whatsoever on the match today. Some suggestions I have made to the venue include:

  • Security/COVID measures
  • Is there an ASB line/information on what fans can do if needing help
  • Parking options around venue
  • Information on F&B offerings/menu
  • Ride share options? pick up/drop off?
  • Map could be better instead of a small rectangular image that is difficult to navigate
  • FAQ section
  • Seating maps for various events

First impressions were not the best at the gate as they opened at 3pm with the ticketing line being divided into two lines however then diverting back into one. Everyone in the right lane who had signed into the venue and showed their vaccination pass then had to divert back in to the two people scanning tickets rather than those two gate staffers separating into scanning one line of fans each. Security were welcoming and said hello while gate staff also were helpful and while annoying this ticketing process still moved fans in quickly and the line kept moving. There was a map at the start of the venue along with the standard check in’s required by fans however it did not appear that the ticket scanners knew how to work the scanner as we were not scanned in and just allowed to walk in and witnessed other fans doing the same or just walking through without being scanned due to the crowd build up at the gates. Ticket scanners were doing a good job in the sun and these scanners can be tricky to pick up the QR codes so they did a good job to scan people in under the pressure of fans all coming in at the same time.

I said hello to the ticket scanner and they were kind and helpful and wished us a good day which was a positive start on entry to the venue. As I mentioned security here were really positive and I had some good chats to staff as I made my way around the ground. Good communication and positive staff make for a positive visit and from the F&B catering staff to the security you could see that the staff here were very hard working, attentive and offered good customer service skills.

There is so much to like about this venue with some of the cheapest food and beverages in an Australian venue and includes $6 beers, $4.70 chips and $2.50 lolly bags for kids and families which was a nice touch. They even have potato scallops while the meals are of a substantial serving and lines moved quickly from what I observed. The sauce is even free and while a small thing to some people, is the type of little touch that goes a long way especially when some venues charge $1.50 for sauce.

There are no bad views in this venue with each stand affording spectacular views of the field of play. The tall trees that stand behind the Eastern Grandstand just add a gorgeous touch to the charming styling of this boutique venue. Today I was in the Western Grandstand area which for $65 represented outstanding value with a full roast and ice-cream plus cash bar (with $6 beers and $3.50 soft drinks) and amazing views of the field. The best thing about the views in this venue are that you can watch the game from down on the sidelines and be right up close to the corners and nets and when I mean close, I mean close. The players are literally 5 metres away from you or less which just represents such an incredible experience. Accessible seating views are also impressive while on that front there are now lifts in the venue which means access and inclusion is even more at the forefront of what this great venue can provide to fans on event days.

It was great to see both the male and female Brisbane Roar mascots out and about as well as the merch stand in full swing. The Roar did a great job on the fan engagement front with kids games, cross bar challenges and their local community partner on the day doing a fantastic service for fans.

While no doubt that OWHS standards are high here I did witness a couple of incidents that made me question if it could be better. On my walk around the ground I saw a fan taking photographs of the players. As she bent down to lean on the fence she fell through it as this particular gate part was not locked or did not have the pin through it meaning she fell through and this could have been a lot worse for her falling on the LED boards or the pitch. Fans must also watch out for balls flying past the net as you make your way from side to side. I was surprised that there was not safety netting or security guards and signs at ether side of the nets warning fans to be aware of flying balls potentially hitting them pre-game as the players practiced their shots. You’d hate to lose your beer or hot chips here when walking past and I don’t think it’s fair that fans would know to be aware of this as they are pre-occupied on walking through to their seating area as well as the fact that the game has not started so they are not paying close attention to the field.

The way-finding signage is good here after some venue upgrades with clear signage and information displayed however the hand sanitiser stations scattered around the venue were empty which seemed like just one of those small things that was forgotten about from time to time on event days. When entering the Western Grandstand corporate area for our seating we had to get a wristband and as the staffer ripped the piece of paper off to stick the wristband on my arm he let the scrap paper just fly away. I said ‘someone needs to get you a bag for the rubbish’ and he said ‘nah fuck it, its just rubbish’. To some who litter or don’t care about the environment that’s fine but for someone like myself who is conscious of and cares about sustainability this was not good optics, especially in the corporate area with people watching. However, for sustainability it was good to see all the standard recycling bins but also a dedicated can and bottle bin for recycling.

Overall this was a fantastic fan experience with the views, affordable food and beverage and accessibility being the major highlights not to mention the last two goals from Brisbane Roar to seal a stunning 2-0 victory. Every fan should add Moreton Daily Stadium to their game day bucket list as it’s well worth the visit.

Brisbane Broncos NRL Fan Experience, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia, 27/03/2022

On Sunday 27th March 2022 I headed out to Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane for the Brisbane Broncos NRL match against the North Queensland Cowboys. The Broncos went down to the Cowboys 38-12.

Along with the men’s games there were also two NRL Women’s matches with the Broncos winning convincingly here in their game.

It was good to see a new F&B outlet in section 305 selling vegan food options which is a new inclusive option for fans on game days.

I checked out the impressive Paddock Club pre-game where there was a kids carnival with rides, food trucks with big sized gourmet food options and live screens with comfy furniture to relax pre-game. Drinks of XXXX Gold were $8.80 per can which was cheaper than inside and quite affordable but this space did run out of beer 90 minutes out from the game which was not the best look for XXXX. The prices for F&B here were also quite high ($18 loaded chips) but is to be expected. It was one of the biggest Broncos crowds in recent memory yet lines and staffing were very good. It took me less than a minute to get a beer at half time within the stadium and even less in the Paddock Club. I never like getting a beer that’s been poured minutes before the rush and like to take a fresh one and these were plentiful and fresh at the bars in section 711 when I quickly got some beers (3 Golds were $27.45).

Fans were able to get free posters which had both the mens and women’s team images on them and was a simple and inclusive giveaway while it was also good to see the return of the old Broncos font and logo on merchandise like caps.

Beers inside ranged from $9.15-$11.65 with food also seeing an increase on previous seasons but once again is to be expected in these times. The F&B options have increased as well so that is also a positive.

I was impressed with the positive greeting at the gate by the attendant saying ‘hello, have a good day and thanks for coming’. Simple gesture that goes a long way for fans.

Free hand sanitisers were handed out pre game as well as TRY cards for kids.

All in all a brilliant day out at one of Australia’s top venues.

NRL Preliminary Final South Sydney Vs Manly Sea Eagles, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane 24th September 2021

Images from the South Sydney Rabbitohs 36-16 win over Manly at Suncorp Stadium on Friday 24th September 2021.

  • Vaccinations at the game
  • Beer prices rise by 60c since last Broncos match 
  • VB fan zone area
  • Good to get 4 Pines but $11.80 is steep but it does taste better!
  • New LED sport lighting

BBC Radio London Live Interview 28/11/2020

After the conclusion of the third and final deciding State of Origin match on 28th November 2020 I did a live cross interview to BBC London to talk about the COVID restrictions at the game and how the event was managed. I did one call while still at the game as the siren had just sounded on another Queensland series win while I did another quick cross on the walk back to my house at 11pm 

I was recently sent the audio to both add to my site here but also for my own personal record as it will be something interesting to look back on down the track especially considering when you think about where Australia was at this point in time compared to the rest of the world (this match was the biggest crowd since the pandemic began) and then subsequently what played out only a few months later in Australia due to the total incompetence and poor leadership of our pathetic Liberal Government. Well it’s true….

Link to blog post from the match: https://mrblairhughes.com/state-of-origin-iii-queensland-vs-nsw-suncorp-stadium-brisbane-18-11-2020/ 

AFL Game Day Brisbane Lions Vs West Coast Eagles, The Gabba, Brisbane, Australia, 21/8/21

The view from the AFL Brisbane Lions Vs West Coast Eagles match day at the Gabba on Saturday 21/8/21.

Score was 19.11.125 to 13.9.87.

 

Brisbane Broncos Vs Wests Tigers NRL Game Day, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia 18/07/2021

A special moment in my life as I take my baby Ramona Josie along to her first ever rugby league and Brisbane Broncos match day at Suncorp Stadium. And what a fabulous first game day it was for her and I.

 

Brisbane Lions vs Gold Coast Suns AFL Game Day, The Gabba, Brisbane, Australia 24/07/2021

The Brisbane Lions AFL match day from the Gabba in Brisbane on 24/07/21.

The Lions 17.18.120 defeated Gold Coast 10.11.71

Brisbane Broncos Vs Gold Coast Titans NRL Fan Experience, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Queensland 27/06/20

Here’s a snapshot documenting the fan journey tonight heading back to the Brisbane Broncos game days at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia on Saturday night.

10,000 fans were allowed back on the night for the NRL game.

Train to the game. Chelmer station to Milton station. Free transport still on offer for fans here heading the game.

Note the clear communications around ticket conditions for the COVID19 plan on this game day.

The march to the stadium from the station. Not as vocal as usual but grateful and lucky to be back here.

Ticketing. Paper PDFs or mobile ticketing only. Gates open only from 45 minutes before kick off.

F&B. Cashless/card only. Line markings. Social distancing maintained and respected by fans. Speed was fast to be served. Staff friendly and good on them for being back too. They need this for jobs as well.

Seating. Strictly only allowed to use the 2 seats you were able to purchase and must keep 1.5m away from each other. Must remain within the zone allocated on your ticket.

Hand sanitizer stations abundant throughout the venue.

Well done to all of the staff from the Broncos membership team to the venue staff and everyone else in between who put this on for fans with only a few day’s notice. Huge respect for that team work.

Putting Fan Engagement to the Test: Blair Hughes Experiences how Cricket Australia put fans first during the 2019 Sri Lanka Cricket Test at the Gabba Brisbane’

Across the globe the sports business continues to face many challenges to get bums back into stadium seats both as a result of the competition from the at-home TV experience and new leisure activities combined with the fact that audiences have evolved and are seeking more bang for their buck on game days.

To combat this, teams and venues are constantly creating innovative fan engagement solutions that are seeing positive outcomes for all stakeholders. Whether it be technological advancements such as Manchester City’s augmented reality game day program, the proliferation of craft beer amongst venues concession offerings or Celtic FC initiating the inclusive approach of providing female fans with free sanitary products at Celtic Park, the in-venue fan experience globally continues to be rapidly transformed and enhanced for supporters on match day.

One example of a sporting organization who are reaping the rewards of following a fan first approach is Cricket Australia whose events have consistently demonstrated best practice fan engagement which has afforded cricket fans with exceptional experiences that go above and beyond, particularly with regards to unique money can’t buy activations. This fan experience review of the recent first test match from Brisbane will therefore provide an insight into Cricket Australia’s approach to fan engagement and explore the lessons that other sporting organisations and venues can learn to ensure that all patrons have a positive game day fan experience.

Transport

Starting and ending the fan journey seamlessly is integral to a positive fan experience and it’s something that Cricket Australia and Stadiums Queensland, through The Gabba, do very well as all fans are entitled to free public transport to and from the ground on Cricket Australia match days. Taking advantage of this I boarded a Council bus at 11am from the suburban outskirts of Brisbane that took me all the way up to the front gates of the famous cricket ground in turn saving $5.80 on transport costs. As a result of this integrated transport ticket offer, fans were able to enjoy a clean, air-conditioned and fast ride to and from the ground with ease while also saving some money which is always a quality way to start any match day.

Event Presentation

Arriving at the Gabba 90 minutes before the first ball on what was a typically hot and humid Brisbane summer’s day it was instantly impressive to see the fan zone set up complete with it’s pumping atmosphere and colourful event presentation that featured Cricket Australia branded test match banners that were adorning the Gabba gates.

Security

Security personnel are often the first match day event staff that fans interact with when entering the venue so it is vital that a positive interaction sets the tone for a fan having an enjoyable experience and this was evident at The Gabba on this occasion. In this heightened security climate it was good to see that the event was well aware of not making this feel like a ‘security event’ as fans were greeted with a friendly smile, welcome and hello from security staff who were present at the gates wanding down patrons and checking fans bags before entry.

Technology

On the technology front both Cricket Australia’s ‘Matchday’ app and Stadiums Queensland’s ‘MegaFan’ app provided fans coming to the game with all the information they needed with handy fan experience features including venue maps, live transport timetables and seating views to video replays of key moments and score updates from the game all of which helped to ensure a positive experience for every fan.

Fan Engagement

Cricket Australia places a large emphasis on fan engagement with regular quirky trivia questions on the big screens as well as a sideline-seating feature, which sees a roving group of lucky fans selected to sit in their own exclusive section on the field behind the boundary ropes. The addition of the roving face painting ‘Colour Crew’ was also a clever feature of the game day fan engagement offering that enabled them to move around the ground and paint the faces of Australian and Sri Lankan fans throughout the day.

The centerpiece of the fan engagement offering here however is the impressively presented “Cricket Australia Pool Deck” which represents a unique fan experience in terms of the atmosphere and excitement that it generates for fans.

Designed in conjunction with sports agency TLA Worldwide, the “Pool Deck” activation allows close to 500 fans over the course of the day to cool off in the pool and sees fans first sign a safety waiver at the registration desk where they are presented with a free tropical towel to use as well as a wristband before they enter the pool’s sparkling water to cool off and enjoy an unrivalled view to take in the action on the field.

TLA’s senior account manager Cameron McFarlane noted that “Cricket Australia’s plan with the pool was to appeal to new and existing fans, giving them another reason to attend matches at the Gabba, creating an exceptional experience that would reward the existing fan base as well as creating memorable experiences for new audiences at the cricket. The tiered seating and shaded lounge chairs result in the best seats in the house, aligning with Cricket Australia’s strategy to facilitate social interaction for fans to enjoy throughout their day at the cricket in an accessible environment.”

The little touches were also evident everywhere in the “Pool Deck” with exquisite event presentation and fan experience features including abundant shaded areas and tables, deckchairs, tropical plants and colourful cushions, sunscreen, phone charging and most importantly the incredible views from the deck which are quite simply right up there as the best spot to watch a game from in at any Australian stadium.

Community

As a result of a devastating dought affecting many parts of the country especially in Queensland it was inspiring to see the focus that Cricket Australia put on raising awareness and vital funds for drought stricken farmers especially as the annual Brisbane test match attracts so many people from the bush. The rural focus included volunteers collecting donations for Rural Aid, a mechanical bull ride for kids of all ages to have a ride on as well as a live site that featured a giant TV screen and numerous hay bales for fans to sit on all of which made for a pleasant family friendly feel outside the ground. Even more impressive to hear after the test match was that Cricket Australia repurposed 25,000L of water from the pool to a Queensland dairy farm that had been affected by severe drought.

Hospitality

Cricket Australia’s test match hospitality offering at the Gabba leaves other sporting codes in its wake with a variety of options available to entertain fans at the match. An example of this is ‘The Century Lounge’ fan experience in the Gabba’s Legends Room which was an exceptional experience not least for its delectable culinary offering but also because of the creative and useful gifts that each attendee received. In a sporting world where sponsor’s fan engagement activations are often cheap and useless items that are given away to fans it was impressive to see that the focus on quality and creativity with fans here receiving wood framed sunglasses, a test match wool kit stubby cooler as well as a Cricket Australia branded USB phone battery charger all of which were both memorable and bound to be reused again and again by these cricket fans.

Food and Beverage

While the Gabba faces increasing pressure from fans to upgrade its facilities to rival other Australian venues, it was positive to see the new additions and diverse range of gourmet food and beverages which were on sale some of which included an Asian food cart selling dim sims and pork buns as well as the new Gourmet Grill that offered vegetarian curries, pork belly burgers and loaded fries. Chilled slushies and fruit smoothies kept fans cool while the ‘Parma for a Farmer’ chicken parmigiana meal deal was a creative and effective community minded approach to raise funds for Queensland’s drought affected farmers.

The Extra Touches

With sunscreen often being expensive, forgotten to be brought in to the stadium or even applied by fans in the first place it was good to see that both Cricket Australia and the Gabba are always putting its fans first as free sunscreen stations were scattered throughout the ground to ensure that fans were protected from the sun’s harsh over a long hot day one at this test match.

Cricket Australia’s test match experience at The Gabba highlights an exceptional example of best practice fan experience that delivers consistency, value and quality in every facet not least as a result of it’s creative fan engagement activations, community initiatives, hospitality options, addition of smart extra touches as well as simply providing fans with the key information that they need to have a positive experience at the venue on match days.

BIO

Blair Hughes is an award winning, globally respected fan engagement specialist who helps clients in the sports, music and craft beer industries grow their fan bases, improve fan experiences and create new business and revenue opportunities. You can follow him on Twitter at @MrBlairHughes or at www.MrBlairHughes.com

Brisbane Lions and The Gabba’s ‘The Verandah’ Fan Experience

Across the globe major venues and sporting teams are constantly working on enhancing the fan experience for sports fans to deliver them extra bang for their hard-earned buck on game day. Whether it be from gourmet food options at MetLife Stadium, sensory rooms at Watford FC’s Vicarage Road or Celtic Park providing free sanitary products for female fans, the fan experience is an integral part of major events that these stakeholders are focussing more deeply on improving.

It’s an arms race between venues as areas like food and beverage, technology, fan engagement and amenities improve in an effort to better service fans at the venue, increase revenue through unique new opportunities and overall make fans feel more valued. One particular area of the fan experience that has seen a large focus in recent times has been the addition of social seating spaces that provide fans with incredible views, gourmet food and drink options and unique experiences with examples ranging from Yankee Stadium’s ‘Judge’s Chambers’, The SCG beach, TIAA Bank Field’s cabana pool and The MCG’s ‘The Lawn’. A recent addition to this list is also the Brisbane Lions’ outstanding ‘The Verandah presented by Hyundai’ exclusive space which is back for it’s second year at The Gabba.

I took in the Lions match against West Coast Eagles and ‘The Verandah’ experience on Saturday night and was very impressed with this authentically Queensland space that is offering fans a unique new way to watch a Lions game in an unrivalled position on a purpose built veranda at the base of the eastern end of the ground’s goal posts.

First impressions are extremely vital however the well-presented area exceeded my expectations and was alive with tropical Queensland vibes and colour as soon as I entered. The addition of comfy bean bags, sun lounges and chairs all enabled fans to grab a front row spot with superior views of the action as the Lions ran away with the match in the opening round.

The atmosphere in The Verandah was pumping throughout the night as people protected their cups of ice-cold beverages when the goals continued to rain in from the Lions. It’s a very relaxed vibe too so while it attracts the Instagram crowd of people who want to be seen, jerseys are also encouraged, as are shorts, as it was a particularly humid night in Brisbane so this is certainly an inclusive space where every fan is made to feel welcome.

A distinctively styled open air space like this is another example of how to both attract new fans to a Lions game at the Gabba as well as delight and entertain existing Lions in a fun social space with the best seats in the house. This is truly a fan experience that is worth taking in at a Lions game and represents exceptional value for money for fans, as it’s only $70 per ticket or $40 for a member upgrade.

At the end of the day a happy fan is a fan who has had a seamless and enjoyable fan journey and feels valued by stakeholders for attending the match day, therefore venues and teams are consistently applying positive and exciting new approaches that puts the fan and the fan experience front and centre. The Lions and the Gabba have created a fun, entertaining and colourful space here to attract new fans which other venues and teams should take a closer look at in an effort to attract new audiences and delight existing fans.

Blair Hughes is an award winning, globally respected fan engagement specialist who helps clients in the sports, music and craft beer industries grow their fan bases, improve fan experiences and create new business and revenue opportunities. You can follow him on Twitter at @MrBlairHughes or at www.MrBlairHughes.com.

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