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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.

Fan Engagement Friday: News from around the grounds 13/05/2022

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

WWE Experimenting New Ways To Increase Fan Engagement During Commercials

Tottenham Grounds Team win ‘prestigious’ Premier League award

Dan Sormaz, Sorare: Meeting sports fans’ demand for deeper digital experiences

The best UK supermarket loyalty schemes and why they work

Patience, Zero. The State of Customer Service in 2022

Off the Menu: Fenway Park and other ballparks tweak their snack offerings

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2022 Stadium Journey NHL Arena Rankings

MLB Mariners Sullivan emphasizes bringing ‘whole self’ to work

Forty-Two Percent Would Rather Clean A Toilet Than Call Customer Support

The Brands Reviving the Lost Art of Letter Writing to Drive Loyalty

Glitz and Gridiron: How the NFL Draft Took Over Las Vegas

Empowering the Influence of the Female Fan

Here’s How Turner Sports and ESPN Grew Female NHL Audiences by Double-Digits

NASCAR SELECTS FAN ENGAGEMENT PLATFORM, PICKUP, TO HELP ACCELERATE MOTORSPORTS CONTENT GAMIFICATION STRATEGY

Identiv, collectID Collaboration Delivers Fully Authenticated Fan Experience for NHL Nashville Predators

How NBA Teams Are Using Luxury Fashion to Enhance the Fan Experience

Future of Sport: Stadium Technology of Tomorrow (with Chi Bhatia)

Watch a drone do a test run of delivering a hot dog in a stadium – will it catch on?

At Formula 1 Miami, Tag Heuer and Red Bull Racing Tag Team on the Fan Experience

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NBA teams hike ticket prices as attendance drops, internal data shows

Crypto.com Drives Fan Engagement at Miami Grand Prix Through NFTs

Electronic Arts to Create Fan-First Future of Interactive Football with EA SPORTS FC™

Los Angeles Football Club Launches New Fan Experience with Mixhalo

Is your football team charging over the odds for matchday food? As Arsenal is condemned for £13 portion of chips, the other clubs raking it in with dodgy snacks

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MLB adds six new partners for 2022 season

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Old Trafford marks start of Verizon’s drive to bring US stadium tech to Europe and Asia

2022 USA Stadium Report The highest-rated and most popular stadiums in the US right now

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How the Overwatch League is generating fan engagement with a March-Madness-style bracket contest

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Verizon launches international stadium and venue strategy

Opinion | Turf tech and how making the right choices can maximise sponsorship revenue

Bundesliga’s new AI takes fan-first approach to whole new level, putting control in palm of supporters’ hands

Tetavi & LA Kings Team Up to Bring Hockey Stars & Mascot to the Metaverse

Use NFTs to target long-term fan engagement over short-term revenue

NRL 2022: Everything you need to know about Magic Round

Fan Engagement Friday: News from around the grounds 06/05/2022

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

Central Coast Mariners bring everyone to the game incentive

Canterbury Bulldogs hosting first Iftar Dinner for fans

TIO Stadium Fan Engagement for Parramatta and North Queensland Fans – well worth taking a look at Les tweets on this from up in Darwin

Mystics WNBA Theme Nights – good insight into US ‘theme’ nights

Newcastle Knights NRL Junior MC

JPEX TO GIVE AWAY FREE HOT CHIPS AT WANDERERS CLASH AGAINST WELLINGTON

Serie A comes to the metaverse: First football league to broadcast a match

Nashville SC stadium GEODIS Park: History, capacity, debut as largest soccer-specific stadium in USA ready for opening and The Fan Experience at Geodis Park and Geodis Park food vendors: Ranking, reacting to 6 concessions at Nashville SC’s new stadium

Kolkata Knight Riders & Major League Cricket to build a world-class cricket stadium in Los Angeles

Thousands of solar panels to power Germany’s first climate-neutral arena

The secret to customer communication? We asked a psychotherapist, a crisis PR expert and a communications SaaS

Kraken’s strategy toward building fan base in need of an offseason boost

Populous announces a new esports arena and NFT collection in its hometown

Customer Service: When Things Go Wrong, Your Response Matters Most

Maple Leafs have most loyal NHL fanbase in Canada

VERB to Provide the NBA’s Detroit Pistons with Interactive Video Technology to Drive Ticket and Merchandise Sales and Increase Fan Engagement in Multi-Year Deal

Joel Selwood opens up on “ugly part” of fan engagement

Special report: Socios expects to make £150 from each fan who buys a token

See How WWE and Its Brand Partners Engaged Fans During WrestleMania 38

Oakland A’s face fan malaise in effort to boost attendance, build stadium (in Oakland or Vegas)

Fans Divided on MLB’s New Sponsored Patch Program

RE:JERSEY – AC MILAN PLAYERS TO WEAR SPECIAL PUMA JERSEYS

How the New York Philharmonic Is Evolving Its Audience Strategies

PGA TOUR and Quintar expand augmented reality relationship

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How MLB stadiums have stayed flush with hot dogs – in spite of inflation, supply chain problems

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Catching buzzworthy moments that matter

Countdown To 2022 MLB All-Star Game At Dodger Stadium and From stadium to sea, LA Dodgers unveil All-Star Game plans and Play Ball Park fan engagement and MLB Play Ball Park festival

Why Formula 1’s Miami Grand Prix ended up with a fake marina and dry-docked yachts

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Creating the Expectations for an eSports Stadium

Part of Miami track design at the limit of the rules

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One of the stadiums Qatar has built for the 2022 World Cup is made out of 974 shipping containers, and will be entirely deconstructed and recycled after the tournament is over.

Toronto Blue Jays Revamp In-Game Experience at Rogers Centre With 10 New Daktronics LED Displays

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HARLEQUINS LAUNCH TICKETMASTER’S 3D VIRTUAL VENUE TECHNOLOGY

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Great campaign by Vitesse Arnhem using Sports Alliance’s personalization features to send a personalized season-ticket-campaign newspaper to all its fans. – Go follow Bas

Fan Engagement Friday: News from around the grounds 29/4/2022

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

Scran? No scran? The new food culture at football grounds

What’s new in Major League ballparks in 2022

Bengals’ $455m stadium is in such great shape it only needs $493m in upgrades, says architect

Dad things: Reds fan makes amazing catch while feeding baby

T-Mobile Park set to be first ballpark in MLB to open a store powered by both Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology and Amazon One

New York Islanders Integrate BlueJeans by Verizon to Elevate HOMEICE Fan Experience

How sports fans use data analytics to increase their enjoyment and understanding of sport

AFL Mint to release limited edition moments across AFL and AFLW

Melbourne Victory launch Victory Burger for fans!

NHL tech showcase focuses on fan experience

Player announcement drawings by @1fcn

Bolton Wanderers Jon Daddi Bavardsson playing penalties with young fan outside stadium.

Chelsea FC tackles food waste with new venue program for unused food

Populous and Kansas City Pioneers unveil “The Arena” NFT collection

Gamers get chance to play on Kauffman Stadium’s jumbotron ahead of tournament

The Miami Marlins have an amazing deal on the world’s saddest tacos

3 Top Tips You Can Implement Today To Maintain Great Customer Service!

Seattle Mariners to use Amazon’s ‘Just Walk Out’ and palm-scanning tech in new stadium market

Turkish sports stadium takes Guinness World Records title for solar output

Boston’s Fenway Park opens contactless food and drink stores

Ejected: What happens when a fan is banned from a stadium?

The Atlanta Hawks’ State Farm Arena takes world-leading step towards sustainability

Statement on the Fan Led Review of Football Governance

NBA offers more free ‘The Association’ NFTs to fans after minting mishap

Six Major Steps To Improving Your Team’s Customer Service Skills

Hockey lover wins a luxury vacation. Atlanta pro team backs out of deal.

Fan Experiences Startup Vaunt Raises $5M, Investors Include Justin Tuck, Michele Roberts, Dodgers’ Elysian Park Ventures

Technology is saving the live sports experience

Celtic latest to launch digital cards via Sorare

Liverpool Could Become The First Premier League Club To Have Cryptocurrency As Main Shirt Sponsor

58% Of Customers Will Pay More For Better Customer Service

Ipswich Town Named EFL Family Club of the Year

ASM Global to deploy facial recognition technology across venues

NHL, technology partners showcase next generation of fan experience

Grimsby Town Paint the Town Proud initiative

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.

Hawthorn Hawks Vs St Kilda Saints AFL Fan Experience at MCG, Melbourne, Australia 10/4/22

On Sunday 10th April I finally had the chance to do something I have been looking forward to for such a long time.

I finally got to be back in Melbourne after three years away and I got to take my daughter Ramona Josie along to her first ever AFL match and her first ever visit to the hallowed Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

Ramona and I started our fan journey on a gorgeous blue sky day by walking (well she got an easy ride in the stroller!) the short distance from the city along the back inner suburban Melbourne streets of the MCG.

We had a fun little play in the grassy area outside the G where we kicked the football and had cuddles under this amazing stadium that is in my opinion one of the best to visit in the world for any event. That event today turned out to be a classic old school Aussie Rules battle between Hawthorn Hawks and St Kilda Saints which the Saints would eventually run away with in the end 142-73.

After a play we picked up a copy of the AFL Record which is always a must on an AFL game day and a bargain still at $5.

It was great to see a few things by looking up at the MCG and these included the solar panels out the front of gate 3 and the water station and solar powered CCTV and lights which all together has made the MCG run on 100% renewable energy which is spectacular to see from a major Australian venue. The ‘G-TRAIN’ was also a good sight to see for inclusion and accessibility as it carried less mobile fans around the G to their gates.

Today thanks to a friend we were lucky enough to sit in the MCC area which I had never been in to before. We were greeted and welcomed in by friendly MCG staff who waved and made RJ feel safe and welcome. I was even so surprised at how much Ramona enjoyed the atmosphere of a pumping MCG crowd from the people to the sirens, she was beaming ear to ear which made the day all the more memorable.

After walking in we did a big lap of the area taking in the F&B outlets, getting some photos, looking at the facilities and also going on a nice walk along the concourse. We had a look in the MCG shop which is stocked full of AFL and cricket items to buy with the retro range standing out as some very cool merch items. We walked out to then come back into another section and got a special Member’s Reserve pass which felt like something from the old days. The COVID check in process was also seamless and easy with security and gate staff helpful and efficient.

There were many new F&B stands with the addition of Royal Stacks burgers a welcome surprise and the prices were ok too from $12.50-$15.50. I remember when these guys had just opened in Brunswick when we lived here in 2015 so to see them in the stadium was pretty cool for fans, especially with their bright concession stand. There was also a brisket/BBQ outlet selling brisket rolls for $15.50, sweet crepes for $11 and southern fried chicken at the Cleaver and Coop outlet for $12.

Prices for some items were very affordable with water ($3.40) and coke varieties ($4.70) probably the cheapest in an Australian venue while the WAIT TIMES boards were helpful in showing fans which outlets had shortest lines and the distance to each outlet. Beer was priced at $9.50 for Carlton Draught while $11 for Mountain Goat craft beer which did absolutely taste that little bit nicer in flavour.

Power banks, water refill stations and plenty of helpful staff were also present inside the stadium on this event day. I found that the baby change and toilet facilities were also top notch here. I also had a check of some hand sanitisers and they all worked and had been filled prior to the event.

Ramona and I had an absolutely outstanding day at the MCG for her first visit and first AFL game with staff, affordable F&B and the views of the ground being the highlights of visiting this historic venue.

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.

150+ Fan Engagement Ideas For Craft Breweries: Solutions To Entertain And Educate, Drive Revenue And Connect Beer Fans And Local Communities During COVID19

106 days into 2020 and what an unimaginable and absolutely crazy year it has been within the Australian craft beer industry this year. 

First the devastation of the summer bush fires and now the way the world has been flipped on its head by COVID19. It’s been an incredibly tough time for many Australian’s and small businesses out there but as I work within this industry I’ve also seen first hand how stressful, challenging and frustrating it has been for independent craft breweries (and all the associated people along the supply chain) throughout Australia.

However if it’s one thing that this industry and community of good beer fans do well, it’s pulling together and working together to support each other. From the relentless back-breaking work that organizations like the IBA, Oz Brews News, Froth Mag and Crafty Pint do for this industry to all the craft beer fans out there who have all gone to great lengths over the past few months to buy local and get behind their community craft breweries, well it’s just so bloody lovely to see. What an outstanding community of people! It just makes you feel so damn proud of how Australian’s come together to support each other in times of crisis. 

Anyway, seeing as I have lost work like many others within the industry and because I now have some extra time on my hands and just can’t sit still, I have put together another handy infographic of fan engagement ideas that will come in useful to a host of businesses, breweries, and venues within our industry. 

Featured below is a new fan engagement infographic that has been created from collating ideas and initiatives from what over 300 Australian craft breweries have been doing to engage their fans and local communities. I have also included all of the ideas within a bullet point list with images added below as well as including some of my own ideas. If an idea does not make sense then please feel free to reach out and I will assist. 

Earlier this week I also released an infographic for the sports business titled 200+ Fan Engagement Ideas to Entertain, Educate and Connect Sports Fans during COVID19 which aims to help local grassroots and community clubs throughout the globe with ideas to engage their communities at this time. Previously I have created these resources below as well. These have been useful for the sports business but many of the ideas are interchangeable, cost-effective and simple and have also helped small businesses with the ideas presented here being quite adaptable to many businesses.

I have also previously created this resource ‘100+ Fan Engagement Ideas For Craft Breweries’ which has been a simple and effective guide for craft breweries across Australia and may come in handy down the track for other breweries to acquire new fans and drive further revenue opportunities.

If IBA members also have access to the new IBA forum and website sections then my fan engagement presentation and panel from last year’s BREWCON conference might also be a beneficial watch.

All in all this has just been something to do to stay active during this time so I hope that it comes in handy for anyone within the independent craft beer industry. 

My final piece of advice is to get out there and support your local indie brewery and buy local from local indie bottle shops and venues doing take aways where you can as this will help these businesses at a time when they all need it the most. 

Thanks for reading. 

150+ FAN ENGAGEMENT IDEAS FOR CRAFT BREWERIES: SOLUTIONS TO ENTERTAIN AND EDUCATE, DRIVE REVENUE AND CONNECT BEER FANS AND LOCAL COMMUNITIES DURING COVID19

150+ Fan Engagement Ideas For Craft Breweries: Solutions To Entertain And Educate, Drive Revenue And Connect Beer Fans And Local Communities During COVID19

  • Bottle shop/venue and staff shout outs to promote local indie stockists
  • Trivia
  • Merch incentives/giveaways (even just free stickers) with minimum spend beer orders
  • Online happy hour
  • Art series featuring and promoting breweries local community/artists
  • Supporters send in your pictures with the brewery beers
  • Competitions- win a years supply etc
  • Promote beer finder maps/stockists
  • BrewChats online shows
  • Healthcare worker discounts
  • Posting takeaway food menus
  • Isolation beer festival/tastings
  • Creative sample boxes (core range cartons to mixed cubes)
  • Hand sanitser for sale
  • Live stream bands at home
  • Mega variety packs
  • ISO Games
  • Pop quizzes for discounts/deals
  • Virtual masterclasses
  • Beer cocktail recipes
  • Craft beer baking efforts
  • Midweek madness sales
  • Pics/shout outs/promote/thank the brew crew
  • Letter/email of the day
  • Drive Thru Specials
  • Access to exclusive content
  • Buy a case, get a free….crowler/incentive etc
  • At Home menu’s- bring the taproom to your house
  • Local area bar/venue Monopoly board game shout out
  • Beer/food delivery order apps
  • Promote take away meal/beer packs
  • Brewery supporter quotes
  • Donate a carton/4pack/beer to a health care worker
  • Promote your merch especially female range of gear
  • Win the first case off the canning line
  • Food and beer variety packs
  • Local craft beer collaboration packs featuring various breweries beers
  • Creative specials and daily deals on takeaway food and beers
  • Creative colourful drive thru set ups and instructions
  • Check in on elderly brewery supporters
  • Word searches
  • Caption This
  • Bingo cards
  • Spot the tinnie/beer
  • Colourjng in sheets/Tattoo design sheets
  • Drawing challenges
  • Throw back pictures/moments/memories
  • Nominate a brewery supporter
  • Challenges
  • Zoom wallpapers of the brewery/SKUs
  • Podcasts
  • Hand washing techniques/instructions
  • Deliver care packages to supporters
  • YouTube/Video shows/recaps and rewinds
  • Hero of the brewery (emergency services fan shout outs)
  • Feel good moments/pics/videos
  • Art competitions
  • Countdowns and votes and polls
  • Connect 4 brewery challenges
  • Photo of the day
  • Supporter Nominations
  • Q&A’s with the brewer
  • On This Day
  • Fitness/work out/training tips
  • Craft beer YOGA
  • GIF challenges
  • Share your brewery supporter story- fan sourced
  • Utilising fan generated content
  • Instagram/FB Live with brewer/team member
  • Beat the clock online jigsaw puzzle challenges
  • Emergency/Health services branded merch
  • #FromTheArchives
  • Choose your ultimate brewery team lineups
  • Mental Health Messages and Tips
  • What Self-Iso Personality Are You?
  • Quizzes
  • Polls
  • Brewery Spotify music playlists
  • What are the breweries up to updates
  • CEO messages/emails to supporters
  • Brewery video messages to supporters
  • Twitter/FB/Insty take overs
  • Send letters to the brewery
  • Dogs of the brewery and fans pets etc
  • RSA/ABAC appropriate kids activity worksheets on agriculture/sustainability/hops etc
  • Memes
  • Pixelated pick the beer
  • My ‘brewery Story
  • Random Acts of Kindness
  • Virtual brewery tour
  • 60 seconds Qs with the brewery team
  • Brewery/supporter/bottle shop people profiles
  • TikToks
  • Tattoo profiles of the brewery staff
  • Live Q&A
  • Fun and quirky facts
  • Merch offers and incentives
  • Merchandise daily deals
  • Virtual Meet Ups
  • Online Quizzes Ex. Kahootz
  • Free access to exclusive content
  • Cooking and recipe shows and plans
  • Educational virtual video sessions
  • Virtual tastings
  • Mini documentaries
  • Exclusive special one off merch lines
  • Good News Stories
  • Stay Home Messages
  • Send us your crazy graphic design requests
  • Guess the brewery from the emoji’s
  • Bracket challenges
  • Merch giveaways
  • Your brewery memory
  • Personalised brewery wallpapers
  • CRIBS- brewery home lockdown version
  • #OpenDoorChallenge
  • Fan Art Fridays
  • #GetYourKitOn- shout outs with supporters in their craft beer tees
  • Donate a beer or gift card
  • Gift cards!
  • Stat attacks
  • Stories behind the moments
  • Surprise fans with calls/videos
  • Name The beer
  • Show and Tell (Show Us Your beer cave/memorabilia)
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Community hero of the week
  • Fan discounts for brewery sponsors- support local businesses
  • Thank You Messages to supporters
  • Your Birth Month and First Letter of your name = Your Career/Name etc.
  • Word Challenges: Brewery scattergories
  • Spot The Difference
  • Share favourite beer merch items
  • Mental Health/Fitness webinars
  • Fan video messages of support for the brewery
  • Brewery profiles
  • Fan of the week
  • Animated GIFs
  • Cartoons
  • This Week: Run a schedule of what’s on for supporters
  • Inspirational quotes
  • Virtual Happy Hour’s knock off beers/drinks with team/fans
  • Build the ultimate beer meal
  • Thank you shout outs to health care workers
  • Maze challenges
  • Fans/Brewery nominate a local business that deserves recognition
  • What’s in the brewers/fans fridge?
  • Beer baking challenges
  • Sudoku worksheets
  • One on one video chat with the brewer
  • ‘I Stay Home For….’ Cards
  • Community Support Roster- show who the brewery supports
  • Brewery printable cut outs
  • Virtual Vacations frames for fans
  • Where’s the brewery/beer (where’s wally etc.)
  • Fan/Supporter hall of fame
  • Find the BEER
  • Fan call from the CEO
  • Printable posters/assets
  • Supporter/beer caricatures
  • Brewery DJ doing a set live on social
  • Fans merch lucky dip live
  • Memory games
  • Fan wall at the brewery
  • Promote fans loyalty i.e. 1, 5, 10 years memberships
  • Harness, use and showcase fan generated content
  • Fan appreciation day/week

200+ Fan Engagement Ideas To Entertain, Educate And Connect Sports Fans During COVID19

G’day everyone, I hope that this latest blog post and infographic finds you well especially given the unprecedented circumstances we’re all in at the moment.

How is everyone going with everything at the moment? It’s a pretty stressful and overwhelming time for everyone but it seems that we’re all coping pretty well with self-isolation, COVID19 concerns and everything else that’s going on in our lives. Whose missing live sport? The smells and sounds of the game-day? It will be all back before we know it.

Like millions of others, both my wife and I have lost work but life does go on and you have to keep moving. I’m deeply saddened to hear about plenty of my hard-working friends and colleagues from the sports business world who are struggling at the moment because of redundancies or lost income. We’re all in this together and things will get better. I know how hard these reps have all worked for fans in stadiums all over the world so they should be very proud of what they’ve achieved and hopefully will be able to come back to their clubs or venues when the time is right. I’m in the same boat and while there’s not much I can do to help, all I can say is that I’m always happy to listen and talk to anyone if they feel like a virtual chat or a catch-up.

It’s important that we check in on one another at this time but also that we stay active and focused mentally and so because the former school teacher in me can’t just sit still and not want to help, I’ve put together another free quick fan engagement infographic which will help global to grassroots clubs all over the world.

I scoured the web looking at what over 400 global teams were doing for fan engagement content ideas at this time and was blown away at the creativity and innovation coming from these hard-working teams at this time to still provide educational and entertaining content to connect fans.

From mental fitness webinars, kids activity workbooks and recipe creations to Zoom backgrounds, bitmoji’s and fitness challenges it’s been very impressive to see how teams across the world have adapted during COVID19 to provide fans of all ages, but especially young fans with ways to stay connected to the game and their teams.

I have therefore attached below another FREE fan engagement resource that I have put together along with the bullet points of all the ideas for easy access below too.

I have also added the images to my 8000+ strong fan engagement Pinterest board which has an abundance of ideas that have come in useful for teams over the years. Visit the FE Pinterest here.

Also if you haven’t seen any of the other fan engagement infographics that I’ve put together then you can find them here.

If something doesn’t make sense then please just ask and I will assist you with more information about what the bullet point represents.

As with the majority of things I do in the fan engagement space, I don’t ask for much in return for my services as I care about young fans and making the best fan experience possible. I love what I get to do and as a fan first and foremost myself this will never change. All I ever ask is that you respect me and my work and let me know if it came in handy and reach out if you found it helpful.

The best part about what I’ve been able to do here has been to network, help out and meet likeminded people in sports biz from all across the globe who one day I can introduce my soon to be born child to your team and stadium and not just go on my global stadium journeys by myself. With a baby girl on the way in July, I can’t wait to be doing this and instill in them my love for stadium architecture, trying diverse F&B and catching different sports in different parts of the globe. With COVID19 going on and no real end in sight, it’s important that we understand that we all have so much to look forward to and for me, I can’t wait to welcome my first baby and soon to be sports fan into the world.

Thank you for reading and I hope that this free resource comes in handy for you.

Have a good week, keep smiling and stay positive.

This will all be over soon and fans will be back on the Kiss Cam, cheering their teams on and also complaining about the price and quality of stadium F&B in no time!

200+ Fan Engagement Ideas To Entertain, Educate And Connect Sports Fans During COVID19

  • Check in on elderly members/fans
  • Word search
  • Stay Home Bingo card
  • Spot the ball
  • Colour in the player/club emblem/jersey
  • Draw the player/ground/emblem
  • Throw back pictures/moments/memories
  • Nominate a team
  • Challenges
  • Zoom wallpapers
  • Team/Player wallpapers
  • Podcasts
  • Classic calls/flashbacks
  • Play back old games
  • Coronavirus hand washing techniques/instructions
  • Deliver care packages to fans
  • VR ground visits
  • YouTube/Video shows/recaps and rewinds
  • Hero of the team (emergency services fan shout outs)
  • Feel Good moments/pics/videos
  • Art competitions
  • Story Time. Players read kids books/stories to young fans
  • Countdowns and votes (best jersey/game/player etc.)
  • Connect 4 Mascot challenges
  • Google Home to engage with fans at home
  • Photo of the day
  • Family Nominations
  • Q&A’s
  • On This Day
  • Skills challenges
  • Fitness/work out/training tips
  • Team commentate fans skills/videos
  • GIF challenges
  • Twitch e-sports gaming challenges
  • Re-watch classic games
  • Share your fan story
  • Utilising fan generated content
  • Repurposing merch for medical supplies
  • Instagram/FB Live with players/team
  • Beat the clock online jigsaw puzzle challenges
  • Emergency/Health services branded merch
  • #FromTheArchives
  • Old player profiles
  • Choose your ultimate team lineups
  • Mental Health Messages and Tips
  • Classic game replays
  • What Self-Iso Personality Are You?
  • Quizzes
  • Polls
  • Social games
  • Replay games via Twitter updates
  • Club Spotify music playlists
  • What are the players up to updates
  • CEO messages/emails to fans
  • Player video messages to fans
  • Game day dress up
  • Twitter/FB/Insty take overs
  • Send letters to the team
  • Player pen-pals
  • Dogs of the club/team/fans
  • Activity sheets/kids worksheets
  • Legend Q&A with past player
  • The People’s Presser
  • Ultimate Quaran Team
  • Memes
  • Pixelated pick the players
  • My ‘Insert Team’ Story
  • Top 100 games/moments/memories/players/jerseys
  • Virtual Match day Predictions
  • Random Acts of Kindness
  • Inside the training session
  • 60 seconds Qs with the player/coach
  • Fan profiles
  • TikToks
  • Tattoo profiles of the players
  • Live Q&A
  • Choose your ultimate fantasy team
  • Match day program flashbacks
  • Fun Facts
  • Virtual autographs
  • Match day merch offers
  • Merchandise daily deals
  • Fan Virtual Meet Up
  • Online Quizzes Ex. Kahootz
  • Archival footage
  • Free access to exclusive content
  • Cooking and recipe shows
  • Online fan party
  • Mini documentaries
  • Exclusive special merch
  • Good News Stories
  • Stay Home Messages
  • Send us your crazy graphic design requests
  • Guess the player names from the emoji’s
  • Bracket challenges
  • Charity Challenges
  • Merch giveaways
  • Stadium wallpapers
  • Your Stadium Memory
  • Virtual Game Days
  • Personalised jersey wallpapers
  • Player fashion shows
  • CRIBS- player home lockdown version
  • Players/team letters to fans/members
  • #OpenDoorChallenge
  • Fan Art Fridays
  • #GetYourKitOn
  • Donate A Membership
  • Retro plays of the week
  • Stat attacks
  • Classic game breakdowns with ex players/coaches
  • Specials on training range merch
  • Stories behind the big moments
  • Team/Player Yoga
  • Animal Crossing jerseys
  • Surprise fans with calls/videos
  • Individual Training Programs
  • Food Bank Appeals
  • Name The Goal/Try/Moment
  • Show and Tell (Show Us Your Sports Cave)
  • Backyard Skills Challenges
  • Arts & Crafts
  • Community hero of the week
  • Home Workouts
  • Old photos from yesteryear
  • Your Call From Home- Fans commentating big moments
  • Show Your Colours- send in pics in
  • Team colouring in books
  • Guess The Player- Who Am I?
  • What Happens Next?
  • Fan discounts for team sponsors- support local businesses
  • Thank You Messages to fans
  • What comes to mind when you see this kit?
  • Your Birth Month and First Letter of your name = Your Career/Name etc.
  • Find a word
  • Scoreboard challenge
  • Word Challenges: Team scattergories
  • Spot The Difference
  • Share Your Ticket Stub Memory
  • Guess which season these jerseys are from
  • Trading Card Flashbacks
  • Retro Team List Tuesday
  • Share favourite merch items
  • Whose Tattoo?
  • Isolation Task/Name
  • Mental Health/Fitness webinars
  • Fan video messages of support for the team
  • Player/FOH profiles
  • Alternative design random jerseys
  • Design a banner
  • Old news stories from papers
  • Fan/Member of the week
  • Animated GIFs
  • Cartoons
  • This Week: Run a schedule of what’s on for fans
  • Inspirational quotes
  • Anything mascot related: Colouring in, wallpapers, cut outs
  • Virtual Happy Hour’s knock off beers/drinks with team/fans
  • Live chat with a former star
  • Share baby photos of players/team
  • Build the ultimate stadium meal
  • Thank you shout outs to health care workers
  • Game plan breakdowns- show attack/defence plays
  • Team/Player pays it forward with free coffees/meals for members/health care workers at local businesses
  • Team maze challenges
  • Reading challenges
  • Fans/Members nominate a local business that deserves recognition
  • Virtual cheerleading/dance sessions for fitness/kids
  • What’s in the player’s fridge?
  • Hand washing technique cards
  • Player Bitmojis
  • Art contests
  • Make up tutorials
  • Fan challenges- draw players/ask a question for social live
  • Virtual radiothon
  • Art workshops
  • Sudoku worksheets
  • Video chat with the mascot
  • Kids recipe book
  • Write letters/notes of support along with the team to health care workers
  • Showcase players hidden talents
  • Showcase fans/members hidden talents
  • Promote fans/members of the club local businesses to the fan base
  • ‘I Stay Home For….’ Cards
  • Community Support Roster- show who the team supports
  • Paper Bag Puppets
  • Write a letter to the mascot
  • Rivalry Recaps
  • Mascot/Player printable cut outs
  • Group fitness classes/steps challenges
  • Virtual Vacations frames for fans
  • Stay At Home Match Notes/Sheet
  • Make a player out of household items cardboard etc.
  • Virtual watch parties of classic old games
  • Where’s the mascot (where’s wally etc.)
  • Fan hall of fame
  • Guess the attendance of the retro game
  • Name the score of the classic game
  • Mascot trading cards
  • Send in fan messages for the team to go up in the sheds for their return
  • Fan call from the CEO
  • Write a match day review from a past game- writing challenge
  • Printable posters
  • Letterbox drops of merch/letters from players to members houses
  • Junior fan of the day during COVID19
  • Fan caricatures
  • Team DJ doing a set live on social
  • Junior reporter commentates a classic game
  • Kids only fan forum
  • Kids only team presser
  • Members/fans merch lucky dip live
  • Memory games
  • Virtual members wall
  • VR ticket/merch/mascot hunts
  • Kids/parents fans/members only fitness/health session live by team
  • Stay at home pass
  • Printable trophies and cups
  • Promote fans membership loyalty i.e. 5, 10, 20 years memberships
  • Harness, use and showcase fan generated content
  • Print out club size charts
  • First game day at home certificates
  • Game day memorabilia auctions/giveaways
  • Fan/member appreciation day/week
  • Make a team flag at home
  • At home ‘cams’ team filters for Oblivious cam, Kiss cam, etc.

 

THE 2019 FAN ENGAGEMENT/ FAN EXPERIENCE 100-1 RECAP

Hello and welcome to my annual 100-1 fan engagement/experience year in review where I take a look back on the creative, innovative, exciting and tailored strategies from teams, venues, sports marketing agencies and sponsors which in my opinion greatly captivated fans across the globe in 2019.

There is a customary heavy focus on Australia and New Zealand as I am based here and please do keep in mind that this is a very subjective list based on my own personal experiences at games, what I saw from colleagues around the globe and what fans have suggested. There will, of course, be ideas and activations that I have missed so please feel free to tag them and add to the discussion here or on social. 

Some of the key areas of focus included:

  • Technology innovations from augmented reality to smart jerseys.
  • F&B incentives were again a trending area with more venues offering early bird offers, family-friendly deals, kids combo meal deals as well as catering for dietary needs and craft beer. 
  • Innovative social seating experiences such as pools, couches, and beaches in venues to offer fans unique fan experiences that can’t be had at home.
  • Inclusive approaches that offer better access and representation to fans with diverse needs to enjoy the same fan experiences as every other fan both in the community and on game day.
  • Harnessing the power of fan-generated content. Find out what skills your fans have by listening to them and then utilize these skills. Fellow fans love this while the fan feels a genuine sense of appreciation that they’re being rewarded for their contribution. I’m a big fan of this area.
  • Sustainable environmental approaches as fans care about their local communities and the environment around the team and society.
  • More political and social justice concerns from fans and teams that put inclusion and communities first.
  • Seamless, tech-driven, fan-friendly venues.

When it comes to fan engagement strategies and improving the fan experience there are few thoughts that I’ll leave you with before starting the 100-1 recap:

Thinking like kids: We must never forget to think like fans, families and in particular junior fans. The ability to continually put ourselves in the shoes of kids and get on their level as well as remember the importance and feeling of those first moments of fandom that we had as kids when we were enthralled and excited by our favourite team or player.

Listening and responding with authenticity: Constantly listening to fans is vital but it is not enough. Responding with empathy and authenticity goes such a long way in driving lifetime fan loyalty.

Keeping it simple: The greatest fan engagement is often the simplest stuff. While I’m constantly road testing the latest tech on my game day travels because I’m a huge fan of the way technology is enhancing our game days I do believe that stripping it all back to the purest and most honest form of fan engagement ends up having the most significant impact on fans. There are a number of outstanding examples of this below.

Inclusion: More than ever thinking about fans as people and not customers and looking at what we can do to better listen and engage them for the benefit of all. 

Personalisation: Never underestimate what it means to a fan to know that you have put them first by directly targeting them.

I trust that this educational summary provides you with some basis for thinking about how you can both improve your fan experience and better engage your fans on both a grassroots or global level while at the same time marvelling at the creativity on show here.

Finally, a huge round of applause to all of the hard-working, creative and talented front office team and venue crews, sports agencies, sponsors and other stakeholders out there who continually create these outstanding experiences for fans across the globe each year. 

If you would like to peruse the previous 100-1 annual summaries then you can find them here:

2018

2017

2016

2015

100. Craft beer and sports team and venue partnerships continued to pour in this year with the establishment of new partnerships with local breweries and venues in an effort to bring fans, local businesses, and the community closer together by offering local and better quality beer options on game days. 

I’ve written a fair bit about this area with my articles well worth a read to understand what teams, venues, and craft breweries are getting out of these partnerships. More info here.

Some of the craft beer and some of the other interesting beer developments from Australia and overseas included:

  • Melbourne Storm and Brick Lane Brewing
  • South Sydney Rabbitohs and Young Henry’s
  • Brisbane Bullets and Newstead Brewing Co
  • Melbourne Demons and Brewanity
  • Port Adelaide and Pirate Life Brewing Co
  • Newcastle Jets and Murray’s Brewing Co

99. Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) post-game kick to kick.  

98. NBL Brisbane Bullets post-game on-court autograph session.

97. @MijnVitesse  launched a pay per month ticketing model.

96. Wimbledon offering vegan strawberries and cream for the first time. A theme emerging of inclusive F&B offerings around the global grounds. 

95. The hilarious New Zealand Warriors (NRL) ‘Bush Shirt’ that took social by storm and will be debuted in the 2020 season. A clever idea to tap into the random side of fans and a nation’s culture. 

 

94. Weetbix and BBL/WBBL personalized backyard cricket bats.

93. Coventry City music themed ‘Specials’ kit for Kick It Out campaign round. Also special mention to West Ham United and their collab with Iron Maiden. Will there be more of these music/team kit collabs?

92. The Boundary Social at The Gabba, Brisbane.

91. F&B prices at Mercedes Benz Stadium, Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII.

90. Chicago Blackhawks NHL chopping board giveaway to fans.

89. NY Mets Seinfeld Night and bobblehead giveaway.

88. Australian Women’s Cricket team trading cards. It’s been so good to see the rise of more women’s sport athletes being featured on cricket trading cards for fans of all ages to collect. Also Super Netball, WBBL and AFLW as well. 

87. Brisbane Lions (AFL) umpired youth games in the community. You should also check out the review I wrote of the Brisbane Lions and Gabba’s Verandah fan experience. 

86. Win an Adelaide Giants (ABL) contract for a day.

85. Chief Beer Officer at the LA Rams.

84. Queens Park Rangers crest collection for new members.

83. AFLX at Marvel Stadium. Light up goal posts, free trading cards and loads of kids activities. Another impressive event for 2019 at the venue. A lot of AFLX got blasted by the media and fans who weren’t the target market.

82. Kensington Oval beach cricket party atmosphere complete with jet ski chairs.

81. Melbourne Storm (NRL) Street Crew.

80. Commemorative yesteryear tickets from Collingwood AFLW.

79. Adelaide Crows (AFL) and Borussia Dortmund replying to fans with personalised kit wallpapers.

78. AGF Children’s Day drawings.

77. AIK Fotboll selling pre-signed jerseys for fans.

76Manchester United and Marriot launched the ‘Seat of Dreams’ at Old Trafford. 

75. New Zealand Warriors (NRL) and Auckland Blues (Super Rugby) ‘Codes of Auckland’ partnership and the Sydney Kings (NBL) and Sydney FC (A-League) partnership.

74. At Pollock FC in Scotland a big football fan – a dog called ‘Yardley’ – is allowed to watch games from the stands at Newlandsfield Park. Now that’s inclusion. Also, #74 just a bit of a laugh in the list. Also, lets put the Dallas Cowboys cat here too. That was very responsive from the AT&T Stadium and team to add the cat to the lineup. 

73. Reuseable cups from Rylands FC and free hot drinks to those who bring their own reusable cup along on match days.

72. @OU_Football launched a website with content and profiles of each signee. They made each of them their own logo and announced the athletes on the site.

71. This lovely story from the UT Vols.

70. Cousin Eddie hat giveaway from M State. One of the best random giveaways of the year.

69. This barbershop and barbershop singing girls at the V8 Supercars at Sandown Raceway in Victoria.

68. New Jersey Devils (NHL) had kids draw pictures of their favourite players and then put them up on the screen.

67. Seattle Sounders (MLS) calling out racism and fascism and in the process showing how inclusive they are to their community. 

66. Coventry City FC’s family zone but in particular their ‘lucky dip’ idea which I thought was simple and effective.

65. The Lawn at the MCG and in particular the caricature part of this. A simple and effective idea for hospitality guests and for kids in a fan zone. Here’s also a review I review of The Lawn fan experience that I wrote for Digital Sports Labs. 

64. Brisbane Roar (A-League) CEO shouting fans drinks at away games.

63. Montrose FC got fans together to road test the pies for the venue. Possibly the best fan engagement all year for food lovers.

62. Reading Fightin Phils had a gender reveal fireworks night.

61. The Holden mini-trucks race circuit at the State of Origin match at Optus Stadium in Perth, Western Australia.

60. Family-Friendly Sunday’s at the SCG. Discounted F&B prices for fans. What other venues are doing similar things?

59. Gender-Neutral toilets at Whitten Oval for the Western Bulldogs AFLW match. A very inclusive way for all fans to be made to feel welcome on game days.

58. Freebies for kids at Marvel Stadium over summer 2019/20 BBL/WBBL matches. 

57. This classy note from Manchester City to fans.

56. Various LA Dodgers themed nights.

55. DB Cooper CSI themed night at the Portland Pickles.

54. Pink Beer for the Pink Test at the SCG.

53. The Pool and Boundary Beach Club at Optus Stadium, Perth, Western Australia.

52. New Zealand All Blacks ‘Black Laundry’. “Running until the start of November, and open ahead of every All Blacks match, Steinlager wants to inspire Kiwis to show their true colours by sacrificing an item of clothing and dying it black  – with one Auckland woman already having dyed her wedding dress.”

51. Fans First free shipping. Savannah Bananas removed merch shipping fees.

50. San Francisco 49er’s ‘All You Can Eat’ tickets. 

49. State of Origin Light Show at Optus Stadium, Perth.

48. The Queensland Maroons visited the Brisbane Police Watch House.

47. Parramatta Eels (NRL) moving statue at Bankwest Stadium. Check out Bankwest Stadium too. I wrote a fan experience review for Aus Leisure Mag which can be found here.

46. This stubby cooler sweater from Cricket Australia as a hospitality piece of merch. Had to include something merchandise related and this was one of the best pieces I picked up this year. More on Brisbane’s The Gabba and Cricket Australia fan experience can be found here.

45. Sydney Roosters (NRL) members names on the LED ribbon at the SCG. Nice way to made to be feel welcome.

44. Brisbane Broncos (NRL) hackathon. What other teams did these well in 2019?

43. Peterborough PUFC young fans guard of honor.

Great to see so many first time fans at the game today – the looks on their faces when they see the players is priceless! Big ‘fans for the future’ initiative as alluded to by @JasonDavidNeale earlier is coming soon to get these back and ultimately season ticket holders.#pufc pic.twitter.com/KyuVypQRew

— Jake Baxter (@Jake__Baxter) February 2, 2019


42. These incredible kit reveal videos from Arsenal (Adidas) and Chelsea (Nike).

41. Free iconic Tayla Harris kick AFLW badges handed out at AFLW games.

40. Eredivisie Toy Toss. 

39. Manchester City became the first sports club to launch with YouTube Kids.

38. Royal Antwerp FC launched a special section for their vision impaired fans.

37. The @ThunderbirdsAHL‘s celebrated the 30th anniversary of the animated comedy series “The Simpsons.” with these Ice-O-Topes jerseys.

36. Kombucha coming into F&B offerings more and more like at Seattle Seahawks for foodies as healthier stadium concession products gain deeper traction with fans. 

35. Iranian women were allowed to attend a national team game for the first time in 40 years.

34. Baltimore Ravens Pop Up Shop idea.

33. LinkedIn sponsors Grimsby Town FC to help community score jobs. They launched the ‘LinkedIn Lounge’ – a permanent matchday fixture throughout the season, where match goers will be able to see current vacancies in the area, along with details of how to apply.

32. Huggity’s scrum machine challenge. 

31. For the Raptors 25th-anniversary, @PizzaPizzaLtd created an interactive GameBox to offer a tabletop gaming experience. 

30. Tottenham Hotspur’s fast pour beers at the new venue in London. Tech has been around for a while but it seemed to take off this year with the launch of the new stadium. 

29. Baltimore Ravens debut mixed reality Raven in venue.

28. NBA smart jerseys.

27. PSV helps a young fan enjoy a matchday experience like no other.

26. Chelsea FC unveiled a new ‘shirt holders’ Nike kit designed by fans.

25. Penn State Football’s creative poster that transforms into a helmet.

24. Hertha BSC ticket bot.

23. Premier League smart shirt.

22. FC Midtjylland hired a bagpipes player to greet Rangers fans.

21. FC Union Berlin made these posters up for their recently deceased fans. 

20. Feyenoord and Opel offer each away game a clubcar for four fans to travel to away games. 

19. Everton FC. Treats on seats for first time under 11 Season Ticket members to welcome them to Goodison Park for 2019/20.

18. Paris Saint-Germain partnered with Deliveroo for in-seat ordering at Parc des Princes.

17. Swindon Town FC Junior Takeover Day. Also another good example of this below from Brentford FC.

16. Brilliant work from Watford FC for those fans wanting to know costs, first time attendance and every detail for the match. This makes it so easy for fans to better understand the game day.

15. Andres Iniesta’s Farewell Jersey idea from beIN Sports.

14. VR work from Bayern Munich.

13. These ushers at Fiserv Forum for the Bucks game. 

12. GWS (AFL) ahead of the 2019 AFL Grand Final.

11. Dallas Cowboys/AT&T Stadium AR ‘Pose With The Pro’s’ activation. Also another fine example from Wolverhampton Wanderers too below.

10. Bat flips at the BBL/WBBL.

9. Swindon Town FC taking fans to their seats on their first game days.

8. DC United getting the local music community involved in game days.

7. FC Utrecht galvanising fans to donate their warm clothes to their supporters who live below the poverty line.

6. Charlotte Checkers having personalised notes on fans seats.

5. The Washington Capitals announcing their official team dog of the team. 

4. The warm welcoming work from Brentford FC’s team to create personalised welcome emails to fans coming to Griffin Park for the first time. A delightful way to ensure fans feel welcome and have all the information they need to be able to get the most out of their first experience. 

3. The work of teams like Melbourne Rebels (Super Rugby), Penrith Panthers (NRL) and Newcastle Knights (NRL) listening to their fans to lower the prices on their jerseys to $99 from the original costs of upwards of $170. 

 

2. The amazing work the Gold Coast Titans (NRL) and other organisations did to create a rugby league physical disability competition so that these young players could play the game they love. Watch Leagueability on ABC here. “A heart-warming, inspirational story about a bunch of young blokes who live for the game but have never been allowed to play and start a physical disability rugby league competition in regional Australia.”

1. AS Roma’s new recruits and missing persons campaign. There are just no words for how brilliant this was. 

So there you have it for 2019.

A pretty impressive list of fan engagement strategies and fan experience insights from across the globe highlighting the outstanding work being done to entertain and delight fans in various parts of the world.

100 (actually there’s well over that as I’ve combined a few here and there) truly exceptional strategies but what have I missed? What was happening for you as a fan in your neck of the woods?

Thanks also to my colleagues and the people I look up to in the industry and this space such as but not limited to:

Be sure to also scroll back through the 2018, 2017, 2016 and 2015 countdowns too to see what’s been happening over the past few years (found at the top of this post).

Let me know at @MrBlairHughes on Twitter or on LinkedIn.

Thanks and have a great holiday break.

AUS LEISURE MAG: The Best In The West: Bankwest Stadium Parramatta Eels NRL Fan Experience Review

The game-day fan experience continues to rapidly evolve on a daily basis with global venues going all out for sports fans through enhancements to areas such as hospitality, seating, catering, technology and accessibility all in an effort to create better fan-friendly destinations and unforgettable experiences as well as further drive new revenue opportunities.

Recent fan experience developments to venues have for instance seen the addition of a craft beer microbrewery at Tottenham Hotspur’s dazzling new stadium in London while Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles focused on a foodies experience for LAFC fans by including concession items from some of the best local chefs and restaurants in LA. Meanwhile, under construction venues such as Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas will feature a retractable roof as part of their climate-controllable venue while Hungary’s new Puskás Arena in Budapest will include a running track perched above the stands with panoramic views over the city. These impressive modern stadium designs are just a few features which highlight that it’s truly never been a more exciting time to be a sports fan as venues around the world constantly seek to improve the fan experience for spectators to get them off the couch and into venues.

Another venue putting fans and the fan experience front and centre on game day through a raft of impressive features is Australia’s latest major venue, Parramatta’s spectacular Bankwest Stadium situated on the banks of the Parramatta River in Western Sydney. In my latest fan experience review here for AUS Leisure I take a look at the impressive NSW Government funded Bankwest Stadium from a recent Parramatta Eels NRL match here to highlight both how they are achieving best practice fan experience and the lessons that other venues can learn to improve and enhance their own venue fan experiences.

Transport

The fan journey often begins with either the ticket buying experience or with transport to the game and as I began my journey to the venue via a train from Sydney’s Central Station it was instantly impressive to see integrated ticketing in effect with free public transport included as part of every match day ticket. The venue is well serviced by multiple public transport options such as trains, ferries and buses with my train only taking 25 minutes to arrive into the Parramatta Transport Interchange in the Parramatta CBD. It was then just a short walk to the ground through the bustling Church Street precinct that was heavily decorated in Parramatta Eels colours. Navigating the route to a venue can also sometimes be difficult however the addition of bright pink way-finding signage and helpful Transport for NSW support staff provided extra assistance for fans to easily locate the stadium. It was good to see that bike parking racks are also located just out the front of the gates highlighting that there’s multiple ways to access the venue on game days.

Atmosphere

After a seamless entry through the ticket gates, a thorough bag search and an unexpected but very welcome positive greeting from a jovial security guard, I made my way into the ground and was instantly blown away by the incredible views and close proximity that every seat seems to have of the field of play. As kick off approached and the venue was packed with loud and vocal NRL fans, the deafening roars and cheers elevated the noise to an unprecedented atmosphere in an Australian venue. It felt like a wall of sound had been created from the 30,000 fans packed in here so close to the immaculate turf which looked like lush emerald velvet. These thoughts were echoed by Parramatta Eels tragic and Ladies Who League founder Mary Konstantopoulos who stated to me at the match The fan experience is exceptional; you are so close to the action and the roar of the crowd sends chills down your spine. Personally though I also love how the history of the Eels is still reflected in the stadium through the Ray Price Statue and the stands named after Eels legends – it’s a nod to the past whilst providing plenty of hope for the future.”.

Architecture

Venue architect Populous, operators VenuesLive and construction company LendLease have all worked tremendously together to create an outstanding venue that has a variety of clever features such as large open dwell spaces for fans to navigate the concourses and also mingle next to colourful decor that’s still in view of the field. Walking around the venue was easy due to the clear way-finding signs and there is a good use of space inside the concourses with stroller bays for parents to easily park their prams in a secure area under the stands. Outside the stadium there is a kids playground area, basketball court and a street workout gym which all represented a smart use of venue space as well as ensuring that the local community has access to these features whenever they wish. While the venue is very much accessible for all needs, another inclusive approach has been to include unisex toilets which is just another way venues are thinking about looking after all of their spectators and making sure they feel valued on game day.

Seating

Bankwest Stadium CEO Daryl Kerry stated that “This is a stadium that was designed and built for the fans with the event experience front of mind and it’s clear that one of the many highlights of the rectangular seating design of the venue is that every spectator feels so close to the action on the field that they can almost reach out and grab the turf from their seats. It became apparent pretty quickly as I criss-crossed my way around the venue that there’s not a bad seat in the house with the views of the field simply breathtaking no matter where you are seated. The high back seats are also spacious and comfortable while the seat rake means you’re pretty much on top of the action and with the atmosphere pumping throughout the day you feel as though you’re much more apart of the spectacle than in other grounds.  

F&B

Upon checking out the concession outlets and kiosks inside the venue, it was evident that Bankwest Stadium has listened to sports fans as there are a host of clever catering additions and incentives here that already have fans singing the venue’s praises. For instance, game day essentials like sauce and beer trays are free, Bankwest cardholders get 10% off concession items while fan first pricing is in effect with seven key food items like pies and hot chips available for under $5. Moreover, the cost of beer here is closest to the cheapest in any Australian sporting venue starting at $6.50 and even includes craft options such as Furphy and Little Creatures brews which will appease beer drinkers

It was positive to see a focus on sustainability to reduce waste with biodegradable cutlery available instead of plastic and that the venue had researched and identified the changing consumer habits and needs of fans with both quality vegan and gluten free food options all available for fans to purchase. As stadium F&B options continue to improve globally for fans it was exciting to see the focus on flavours that reflected the diversity of the local Western Sydney community as all fans tastes have been catered for through the addition of the ‘High Street’ speciality concession outlets that featured everything from Chinese and BBQ meals to seafood and health food dishes which all looked substantial and delicious when I surveyed the outlets before kick off.

Technology

From the crisp and vocal sound coming through the new PA system to the super fast free Wi-Fi, Bankwest Stadium utilises an impressive array of modern technology that’s both interactive and immersive for fans to experience.

The first things to notice when entering the grandstands is how much clearer the sound is from the speakers while the eye-catching and colourful LED ribbons and HD screens create a thrilling tribal atmosphere as they flash out team hype reels and sponsor content across the stands. Sports business leaders TLA Australia and Game Changer MVP have been responsible for revolutionising the match day experience at BankWest Stadium through the in-game fan engagement and entertainment with TLA Australia Head of Events and Consultancy, James Ward, saying “Through our collaboration with Game Changer MVP we are combining global expertise with local knowledge and experience to deliver some amazing content for fans at Bankwest Stadium’.

Across the day I used close to 5GB of data with ease on the stadium network with no drop outs or re-sign while the Parramatta’s screen content and entertainment was electrifying and had the fans in the stands pumped up throughout the match. The Sport LED lighting is also going to be impressive to see here as the lights can be turned on and off with ease for synchronised light and sound shows.

Fan Engagement

With just three games in for the venue, hirers are still finding their feet with how to make use of the space however the Parramatta Eels put on a first class display for fan engagement by providing activities for fans like a photo booth, face painting and even a living statue artist dressed in Eels colours which was a new one to the fan engagement photo opportunity ideas book. The Eels members bar was also a highlight of the venue where Blue and Gold Army Eels members were able to mingle together in their own dedicated fan space that was decorated in Parra livery.

Hospitality

Having canvassed the concourse and general seating areas, I made my way around to the Western Stand to inspect the corporate hospitality facilities of which on first look seemed there appeared to be an abundance of diverse premium options for guests. While there are indeed plenty of quality lounges, suites and clubs providing both private and premium experiences for networking and dining with gourmet F&B and spectacular views right on top of the field, the jewel in the hospitality crown at Bankwest Stadium is the exclusive and exciting ‘Field Club’. This ‘money cant buy experience’ located at the edge of the playing field allows guests to see the players warming up before they walk through the Field Club and onto the ground which combined with the outstanding views brings patrons so incredibly close to the action like never before.

From the diversity in F&B and the smart architectural design to the unique hospitality and the immersive tech, Bankwest Stadium is a spectacular venue that sets a very high bar for the sports fan experience. This is a world class fan first venue and all stakeholders from the NSW Government down should be applauded for the attention to detail that has gone into its creation as well as the focus on going the extra mile for fans with all the little touches. A Bankwest Stadium game day is an essential bucket list visit for any sports fan and one can only hope that Australian venues continue to put fans and improvements to the fan experience front of mind and look to this venue when creating new event spaces.

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.