RUGBY LEAGUE

2022 NRL Grand Final Fan Experience, Penrith Vs.Parramatta, Accor Stadium, Sydney, 2/10/22

On Sunday morning at 2am I left Brisbane to head down to Sydney for the NRL Grand Final between Penrith Panthers and Parramatta Eels at Accor Stadium in Homebush, Sydney.

Leaving home at 3am I hit Brisbane Airport, parked the car and excitedly boarded my 5am flight to Sydney to head to an NRL Grand Final, my first GF since 2018 at the Olympic Stadium.

In the lead up to the big event I produced a match day fact sheet for my fellow NRL fans which went down a hit in our NRL community. I miss match day programs so tried to make it reminiscent of Big League Magazine (RIP) to have a physical keepsake from the big day.

I hit Sydney by 8am taking into account day-light savings time and made my way to my hotel, stopping to check the front covers of the local papers all promoting the major event.

By 12pm I was making my way out to the venue and here is a run down on the day from my fan experience and fan journey perspective.

Transport:

My fan journey from Central Station to Olympic Park and the game at Accor Stadium could not have been quicker or more seamless. Free travel on public transport was included with every ticket and the journey out to the venue from Central via train took under 25 minutes. From there it was such a simple walk to the venue fan precinct and entry gates. It’s always very accessible and it was good also to see the colourful NRL team bunting and presentation at Central Station and Olympic Park Station which added to the atmosphere. Staff were helpful and eager to engage with both sets of fans to ensure they all had a good day.

Unfortunately I was unable to take the gorgeous old cab or Routemaster bus out to the game but don’t they just look outstanding!

Ticketing:

It pays to be an NRL member. I purchased my ticket as soon as NRL members tickets went on sale. I was able to get a discount, buy first and choose where I wanted to sit. I was surprised members got a further discount which was nice to see. I purchased the cheapest tickets I could at $49 which I thought was a bargain. Many fans on social jokingly said my seat was rubbish however I beg to differ. We were front and centre with a birds eye view. Not every fan can afford to go or be close to the action and this price point was all that I could afford anyway. Entry through the gates was seamless and efficient however I did go through very early in the day so had no troubles scanning in. Bag searches were conducted and a hello and smile along with eye contact was received on entry as well which was pleasant to see.

Fan Zone/Fan Engagement:

The fan precinct was absolutely pumping when I arrived after midday with fans of both teams as well as neutral rugby league fans like myself all having a wonderful, fun, safe time together at the bars and within the outside fan zone area.

The bars were going off with live music, DJ’s and beers flowing with the sun out and the atmosphere sparkling with positivity from the fans. It was such a fun vibe and moment to be in.

The merchandise tents were doing a roaring trade with special event tees and hats as well as Penrith and Parramatta gear selling like hot cakes at the multiple merchandise sites around the venue.

The fan engagement and event presentation was top notch and included loads of fun activations for kids, families and fans of all ages such as:

  • competitions
  • pass the ball
  • face painting
  • giveaways
  • trivia
  • photo opportunities (NRL Steeden ball/NRLW)
  • size me up
  • colouring in
  • trophy photos
  • virtual kick and photo activations

Everyone was having such a brilliant time in the fan zone with the lines moving really well throughout the two hours I spent going from activity to activation….obviously, didn’t do the face painting or colouring in but I can see how much fun my daughter will have when I bring her down for a grand final in a few years time.

The event presentation looked impressive with colourful lighting, banners and bunting throughout the venue and surrounds. There was also plenty of food truck gourmet options outside the ground as well as astro turfed areas, roving entertainers (the 70’s disco crew on stilts- they were outstanding!), craft beer bars and plenty of spaces to sit and take in the festivities.

Venue:

After I had my fun in the fan zone I headed into the venue and up the ramp to my seats in section 606. I forgot how steep this venue gets and you really have to pace yourself, especially if carrying a tray of beers so I was glad I had my weetbix in the morning as when I made it to my seat I was able to take in my impressive view of the ground. For $50 I was very impressed with my seat purchase and settled in for a while with a cold bevvie to take in the NRL State Championship (Penrith defeated Norths Devils 44-10), NRLW Grand Final (Newcastle won 32-12 over Parramatta) and then the pre-game entertainment before the main match.

It was outstanding to be a part of a new Australian crowd record for the NRL Women’s competition as close to 43,000 fans set this record to watch the Grand Final. Well done to everyone for being inside the venue to watch this moment.

When I went down to get a beer and pie at 6pm the lines were unfortunately really bad with up to 100m of people waiting in lines in both directions and no real line management or idea for fans of where lines started or ended or went for food or drinks so I unfortunately gave up and didn’t get to eat anything at the venue and only bought the one beer in the end. This was probably the most disappointing thing about the fan experience as I love nothing more than getting a pie and a beer but it was just too busy and after 20 minutes in a line that wasn’t moving I decided to give up. The venue staff however should be commended because I saw how hard they were working for fans and they were smiling and being positive. It’s always hard for a venue when at capacity to service every fan efficiently and we have to remember that venues are still getting back into their groove post COVID too so while it was disappointing to not be able to get F&B I can also understand the challenges.

Beers were $10.50-10.90 and included Stone and Wood craft beer. I wasn’t able to see more of the food on show but I heard there was a special event day burger which sounded good!

Pre-Game Entertainment:

Being a huge Cold Chisel fan I was really excited for Jimmy Barnes to be performing as part of the pre-game show and he was absolutely brilliant bringing all the hits and having fans rocking out to the classics. The other performers were equally impressive and the Welcome to Country and National Anthem were also big highlights with the Indigenous man doing the WTC doing such a fine job talking about respect.

The crowd singalong’s of fan favourites like ‘Sweet Caroline’ and ‘Horses’ were quite funny to see while the multiple on field sponsor fan engagement activations at half time were run smoothly and provided some laughs. I feel for the ladies kicking the goals in that competition, it’s bloody hard in the footwear that fans bring to a game not realising how oily the turf is!

The pitch invader that ran on and tried to scale the posts was brilliantly nabbed by security and venue staff and ushered off the field. Thankfully this idiot will now be fined and banned and did not cause any player injuries. Well done to the venue staff here for quickly sorting this out. These people don’t belong in our NRL community.

Exit:

Once the game was over with Penrith winning 28-12 over Parramatta we made our way back down the ramp and out to the train station to head back into the city. Transport home could not have been more easy and seamless with the lines moving fast and free transport making it simple to get home and end the night safely. I will add that when I asked a cabbie how much it was to get to the city he remarked $150 and told me the meter was off. Very dodgy behaviour and not what fans expect or deserve to see for the fan experience. No sooner had I told him that was ridiculous and unfair for fans, he was swarmed by transport cops or transit enforcement officers (unsure who they were) who heard me talking to him and ordered him to pull over however he did not want to and continued trying to drive away which was quite dangerous as it was packed with fans around him. I commend these officers because they saw that this was wrong and not what fans expect from transport companies.

A big shout out to the National Rugby LeagueAccor Stadium and everyone involved for putting on an outstanding #NRLGF day in Sydney today.

I had such a fun day participating in all the activations, catching up with the NRL community and just being back at the venue for the first time in a few years.

Fantastic event presentation, fan journey, #FanEngagement, fan atmosphere and entertainment. Seamless free travel on public transport, craft beers, food trucks, happy, positive and helpful staff and a brilliant loud atmosphere all made for an epic day.

Well done Penrith Panthers and Newcastle Knights and Parramatta Eels National Rugby League Club fans too.

NRLGF Match Day Fact Sheet 2022

I deeply miss physical match day programs at the NRL so I produced this one-off free NRL grand final fact sheet for myself and fellow fans for the big day. Sadly print media is dying a slow death and soon there won’t be any match day programs from the English football to the cherished AFL Record….hopefully that time is still some time away.

It went down such a hit with fans in our NRL community and I ended up running out of the 50 copies I printed, all of which was just for a bit of a laugh, to have a physical keepsake memory to take away from the game.

Dolphins Vs. Broncos: The Battle of Brisbane!

As a rugby league fan I can’t wait for the Dolphins to enter the NRL competition in 2023 as the league expands to 17 teams.

I really hope that the Dolphins are successful on and off the field with wins across the board for fans next year and I can’t wait to attend the derby with Brisbane, a ‘North vs South’ Cowboys clash, a ‘Coast to Coast’ battle with the Titans and the Arthur Beetson Trophy clash against Easts. Whatever the marketing magicians name the derby (The Brown Snake derby/Surf N Turf derby/Battle of Brisbane derby) it will no doubt be thrilling to watch with a packed out Lang Park featuring 52,000 rugby league fans in attendance.

The game days at Redcliffe will be sold out and look spectacular in person and on TV at the recently redeveloped Moreton Daily Stadium (please keep the fan-first pricing including cheap beers and lolly bags out there on game days!) while the seven games at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium and one to two tipped to be on the Sunny Coast represent an exciting time for league fans across these areas to see more NRL live in their backyard. It’s truly an exciting time for rugby league fans in Queensland as this will be the fourth QLD team playing in the NRL and no matter who you support you can’t deny that it is good for the game of rugby league in Australia to have more rugby league reaching more people in more communities.

I believe that the Dolphins have got a lot of things right from the outset such as player (plus coaching staff) and sponsor signings (Adventure Kings, XXXX) to membership package price points (cheapest adult NRL season pass $105 for 7 games at SS) and merchandising (Classic Sportswear). They’ve also done well to sign a lot of former Broncos staff and smart sports business creatives who I think have greatly helped the club get going and will no doubt come in handy around all areas of the business as the first season gets underway. It’s all looking really positive and exciting for the Dolphins.

However, the Dolphins are jumping around rough seas too. This is still Broncos territory right? How will the flippers go around driving fan/member acquisition? How will they differentiate themselves from the Broncos in marketing, media, game days/event presentation across the three venues, fan engagement, social media, community? How will they stand out and attract different demographics of female fans, Central QLD fans (newly announced CQ Capras partnership and one trial game per year in Rocky) kids, ex-Broncos fans, new rugby league fans, fans without a team, other sports fans? How will the game days/fan experiences be consistent across multiple stadia? What will the team do in the community (schools/charities) to spread the good word about our Dolphins? And many more intriguing questions….

I’m curious and inquisitive and these are the questions that keep me up early in the morning when trying to wrestle my toddler back to sleep with the help of the sweet dulcet white noise sounds of classic 1992-96 NSWRL/ARL matches.

I’m a die-hard passionate Broncos member and fan since dad first took me to games in 1993 so I’ll forever be loyal to the Broncos. It’s who I am. It’s etched in my memories and it’s part of my life like so many other Broncos fans. In the past two years I’ve also started the fan journey to Broncos games with my daughter Ramona, taking her to one game a year to start our traditions and instil in her the emotional loyalty, positive memories and passion that my dad instilled in me 30 years ago to the Broncos and their match day fan experiences. Apart from religion, sport is one of the only things people stay loyal to for their whole life and it’s why I’m so passionate about the fundamentals of fan engagement (effective communication, active listening, personalisation, empathy, authenticity, storytelling and much more) because if you do these things right, you will build and have positive relationships with fans for life.

Here are some of my thoughts which are in no particular order (mostly because I have written this over several mornings at 2am while telling my daughter to go back to sleep and she just smiles at me and laughs ‘no’):

  • Storytelling: Play on their long rich history (storytelling) of the club
  • Social media: Be authentic and ensure the content continues to be exceptional
  • Access: All access documentary on the first season (look to the success of Arsenal: All or Nothing and F1: Drive to Survive) and what it took to get to the first game in 2023.
  • Content: Harness the power of their existing fan base to drive authentic fan engagement (fan generated content creators) and get these fans on-side as brand ambassadors.
  • Communication: Listening to fans and go where they are. Social, fan forums and more. Work with fans for a fan code of conduct for game days.
  • Inclusion: Develop a inclusion, equality and diversity strategy for all stakeholders.
  • Kids/Families: School visits/workshops for kids and community family fun fan days. Go to where kids are (Minecraft, Roblox, Pokemon – what can be done here to attract kids as lifelong members). Don’t just do stuff because of FOMO. Do fans really want NFT’s, the team to be on the metaverse or paying for merch with ‘RugbaLeagueCoin’? Plus mascots….have a mascot for every freaking sponsor! The Cowboys have about 15 and kids love them (that’s a lot of costumes to dry clean though)
  • Community: Work with community groups, charities etc throughout Rocky, Bundy, Sunny Coast all the way down to Brisbane to get them and their businesses on board.
  • Sponsors: Communicate why they are sponsors and what they’re doing for fans/members rather than just $$$ into the team for brand exposure. I continually ask sponsors at game days why they sponsor the team and most just kind of shrug their shoulders as if they don’t actually understand why they’re fully doing it or want to understand the fans but can’t we be doing this better in 2023 to drive real connections between sponsors and fans?
  • Focus on evolving sports business tech. Tap into Brisbane start-ups who can add to the fan experience and more areas of the business.
  • Fan Experience and Game days. Focus on diverse offerings. Kids and families fun zones to party atmospheres and quality corporate hospitality that is different from the rest. Unique social seating spaces- how can SS be transformed? Look at what Everton FC have done here with their new venue plans. Ensure that venue staff are well equipped with information, knowledge and passion to assist fans on game days across the three venues to give fans the best, positive and most seamless event day welcome and experience. Look to how US venues run their game day pep-talk briefings. Fans at the centre of the game day. Match day first game certificates, fan of the game, community group of the game, Junior MC, guards of honour etc etc endless fan activations to reward fan/member loyalty.
  • Merchandise. Bring in a retro range of Dolphins gear (how good were those retro BRL kits a few years back) plus partnerships with cool brands including New Era for instance. A focus on kids merch too like with Ashtabula’s range of kids gear as well as ensuring cheaper options are stocked in Best and Less to cater for fans of all budgets.

But what do I know right? I’m just a fan. I want them to succeed even if I am a Broncos fan.

I asked a snapshot of 20 global sports business executives from Australia and overseas as well as 20 sports fans (across different sporting codes) for their thoughts on the topic of how the Dolphins can stand out from the Broncos, acquire new fans and members and be successful on and off the field to drive loyalty across social media, marketing, media, fan engagement and more.

Names redacted.

Responses:

  1. “Well by the looks of things they’ve got one of the best setups in regards to admin staff. Many familiar former Broncos faces circa 2015-18. They’ll be one of the best run clubs off the park. I haven’t checked recently, but I saw initially they had signed up a number of former/current Broncos sponsors. Many of the things the Broncos have done well in recent seasons they’ll likely emulate in their own way. They’ll go hard in the media market once their playing roster is finalised for their debut season.”
  2. “I am really excited to see what the Dolphins can acheive in the next 5 years. They have an abundance of knowledge and experience within their admin staff, many who were decision makers at the Broncos over the last decade. After being granted their NRL licence they’ve brought on board a number of exciting commercial partners who will look to engage with fans and the club in unique ways. From a fan-engagement perspective I am confident they’ll have excellent game-day experiences and membership offerings. They’ve already shown that they’re engaging the local community and this will continue to grow once their NRL playing roster is confirmed.”
  3. “It seems to me that the key is not too dissimilar to any other business. Be good at what you do. If you play well, and hopefully win, then people will get behind you. They are doing the opposite of the Crushers so far which is good. The crushers’ mistake was old players and a less experienced coach. Hopefully the dolphins can pair their experienced coach with a vibrant squad to give them the best chance of success.”
  4. “I like what the lions are proposing for Springfield and womens games. Turn game day into a market day, festival, family fun day. Also their culture should be very inclusive and focus on diversity, the broncos seem quite silent on that and I reckon a socially progressive culture would pick up a lot of fans. And win games ….that will set them apart from the broncos”
  5. “Digital first and content! Behind the scene content on all elements of what it takes to launch a new club. Lean into what’s so different and so unique about their position. The good, the bad, the special. Record everything.”
  6. “I’ll be switching allegiances to the Dolphins based on the fact I grew up in the area. So there’s a bit of brand loyalty on my part. I think that’s something that they have over the Broncos – a much longer history, so a lot of nostalgia they can draw upon. By extension, tapping into that suburban footy vibe. The Broncos are a city town, for all intents and purposes, whereas the Dolphins reflect a suburban corridor. Leaning into this is a strong starting point. They’re not a city club like the Broncos or Roosters, they’re a suburban club, like Wests, Manly or the Sharks.”
  7. “Depends on how the fans feel about the other ‘local’ team. Some will never make the switch due to loyalties through their families. Others fed up with the incumbent will jump right away. Popularity of management, coaches and players can play a part as well. Nicer venue could have an influence. Proximity to fans home/work could also come into play. Media is another thing – I think the Dolphins could really differentiate themselves by targeting a younger demographic, game presentation with a youthful twist or more digital interactivity.”
  8. “They need to be authentic and honour their history QLD’s don’t like fake. It’s a saturated market in my opinion so they need to play the long game, target the next generation the kids. Smart use of data and digital like LAFC in America they could really take some ideas from them on how to build a fan base authentically from zero.”
  9. Take a leaf out of the teal wave book and get volunteers to door knock too a genuine human conversation could quite easily be a convertion to that club. Also corporate support. Apparently a tech alley in Brisbane and surrounds get them on board to do some clever tech based fan initiatives.”
  10. “Gotta go to the Sunshine Coast and cement themselves in that region up to Bundaberg. Almost try and position themselves as a country side/underdog.”
  11. “What they need to do is win games. Wayne is the master of media exposure so they will have no issues there. Win games and they will win plenty of fans. Sign Munster and they win plenty of fans. Play a good brand of footy and be competitive and they win fans. Ensure their jersey is good and supporter gear and they will go okay.Everyone loves a winner. What we don’t need is another Gold Coast titans or wests tigers.”
  12. “My first thought to your message was.. win..and don’t be dickheads. From left field … have lots of mascots. (As broncos used to do in their ANZ Stadium days)… Coverbands for music .. just good singalongs. Fan experience prizes on game day. A junior team as guests of honour at every match … they form guard of honour for run on.”
  13. “I really just think they get into schools and do heaps of community based stuff like GWS did prior to Covid. Get the kids interested, give out free tickets and get families along. Good game day activations, prizes, even stuff like petting zoos and things like that which GWS did really well. Realistically everyone in Brisbane (and Qld) has a team, predominantly the Broncos but also plenty of Sydney teams as well. So I wonder who they are targeting for their fan base? And like Port Adelaide in the SANFL, it’s my understanding that if you’re not a Redcliffe fan you probably hate them so I can’t see many Norths Devils or Wynnum fans or whoever making the switch. So like Port they might just be pigeonholed as a niche side with a traditional following and no room for growth. If they struggle early (and they will because their squad sucks at the moment) it’s going to be a hard road for them because nobody will go watch at Suncorp. I don’t exactly think it will be Crushers Mk II but imagine if we had stuck with them 25 years ago, where might they be now?
  14. Best case scenario I reckon is to be people’s second team for now – cheaper tickets than the Broncos, more family friendly time slots (Sunday arvo?) and give off the community based team vibe as opposed to the corporate Brisbane. Will Broncos fans have a hatred of them or sense a genuine rivalry? Who knows. They don’t really have it with the Titans and they’re as close as they’ve had to a neighbour. My mate up in Brisbane is a lifetime Souths fan (lived in Sydney til he was 40) and his young bloke loves them as well but I feel they’d be more likely to go watch the Dolphins play Parra or whatever than they would to watch the broncos, so maybe that’s what they’re banking on until they can develop a generation of fans? Either way it’s weird to me that they went with an existing entity rather than a new team with no Q Cup ties. Or Perth but that’s another matter entirely!”
  15. “I’d be looking to do things entirely differently to any other team on socials, not the same cookie cutter stuff”
  16. I think they already have fans via their long history, so I think they’d want to make sure that’s all integrated in well. And people who don’t like the Broncos might just support them by default too. I think if they can win a few games, that’ll go a long way, as for game day etc, though not sure what they can do to really draw people. Will be interesting to see!”
  17. “I think it’s going to be difficult to create a consistent fan experience at different venues (suncorp vs Redcliffe have different vibes). I think one thing they have done well is promote their signings which started with Redcliffe as juniors – as they have an entire pathway to elite I hope this is something they promote into the future. I also hope they create a community and family atmosphere at games – kids zones and activities, family days to meet players, open training sessions etc. I think it all starts with being genuine to their community, need to win people over.”
  18. Community engagement (working with local clubs and schools), community appearances (winning over those who aren’t inclined to be Dolphins fans) and doing loca media to the marketThat stretches into Gameday, media, brand etc What is genuine to their community? You can’t pretend you’re Broncos 2.0 it won’t workI’d have a minimum commitment for all staff to do community hours – from players and coaches to the commercial and marketing team. Share the resources at all levels.”
  19. “Has to come from a place of brand clarity. What makes them inherently different? Who are their people?The long term is all about the kids as they’ll grow up in a world where the dolphins aren’t the new team but on equal footing with broncos titans and cowboys.”
  20. “Rugby league, in my view, is extremely reluctant towards change, so I’m not expecting anything significant from the Dolphins.
  21. “The Broncos are such a super power. I’d hate to go up against them. Also from what I’ve seen, the Dolphins haven’t recruited a side that’s going to really excite existing fans. So maybe you target the untapped markets? Cold Community’s , people who have no loyalty to anyone in rugby league, recently arrived migrants, refugees, WOMEN! I’d also probably case study Toronto Wolfpack game day and see what could be learned from their success. Different circumstances they didn’t have a competitor, but they had amazing engagement with fans that didn’t even know what RL was. A bit like Newtown do, they had craft beer festivals, and post match parties with a DJ on the field etc. made the players really accessible.
  22. More women business networks, and maybe even a female focused charity partner or respectful relationships flagship Community program, targeted female recruitment strategies for staffing, go real bold and have a family planning policy (recently raised by the Federal Minister for sport would be the first in the NRL) or all of the above. Oh and of course massive investment in female pathways from playing, officiating and administering. From day 1!”
  23. “They still haven’t claimed an identity. That’s a start. The fact that Bennett is coaching a foundation club against a club he won many premierships with is intriguing. Brisbane isn’t the club they were, and I think the Dolphins, as a new club, can entice supporters. The fact they are a new club is enough to give interest to supporters who don’t support Brisbane. The Bennett factor is enormous, and if they happen to get Munster, even more so. I think it will come down to who they sign. They will need to be competitive, at least to acquire a decent fan base.”
  24. “1. True two-way social media engagement. Don’t just post messages, respond to good quality fan input. 2. Show the team “behind the scenes” – membership team, guy who puts the jerseys out each game day, groundskeeper preparing the field. US teams do a great job of this with little docos. 3. Try and take some ideas from MiLB – Cap Days , bobble-heads, etc 4. Have the game day atmosphere start outside the stadium, food trucks, bands playing, mascot greeting fans before they enter the ground 5. Don’t assume people will know or seek out match info- I think the Dolphins need to promote themselves on radio, posters, buses, billboards with a distinctive ‘brand’ that’s not a cookie cutter NRL style 6. Really engage with supporters group(s). Work with them to harness their passion in the stadium. Work to give them priority seating, materials etc. 7. Run a competition for young kids- design a Dolphins t-shirt Winner is produced and sold at the team store. Proceeds to charity.”
  25. “As many others have said, I think they’re making a huge mistake not embracing their local community (ie. Redcliffe, Moreton Bay, even Sunny Coast) and representing them, forming a connection with them…Media wise, they’ll need to be extremely smart (and progressive). So in summary, they have a lot of work to do. All comes down to finding their real identity and investing their energy into developing that. They’ll need to take risks, they’ll need to think outside the box. Time will tell if they can do that.”
  26. “It’s a hard one to answer but when I look at the Dolphins, the way the have done things in in relation to their branding has been pretty front foot forward, bold and impressive. Not associating a particular suburb or city with their name as an example. Selling good looking merchandise such as snap backs you’d see in culture kings or street wear stores, everything down to the font screams ‘Expensive, Luxury’ team. It almost screams NFL or NBA.”
  27. “A team that understands current culture, wants to be modern, fresh and up-to-date. If they continue doing things that in my opinion continue to target the demographic they have by staying in trend, people will just follow.”
  28. “Merch! People want to wear a jersey to support their team, but they want to wear a good looking one. One that tells people around them the type of person they are.”
  29. “They should potentially look at merchandise outside of what typical NRL teams do.. jerseys, cheap produced hats, best and less looking gear.Have a look at the fashion trends around and continue to be a leader in the market. Show other teams that NRL these days is more than just tradies, Lowes gear and sinking xxxx (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But the NRL to me is about families, friends and culture. People want to represent their teams, but they also want to represent who they are. A lot of the teams just go for low hanging fruit in their advertising and are scared to be bold and make a statement saying ‘we’re different’. It’s too easy to sign an NRL mass produced cookie cutter merch deal and let the NRL look after it.”
  30. “Advice from my time working at REDACTED as a new club: generic but hopefully helpful, figure out your Audience and go hard on attracting those types (don’t try to be everything to everybody, try and build traditions from day 1, they all won’t land but some things will, it’s a unique opportunity to track fan milestones from the start, first game certificates and data tracking, don’t do things because the broncos do that, make membership really, really affordable or attractive in year 1 to drive data growth, leverage the derby to help define who you are (WSW and Sydney fc did this really well in year 1, a hero is only as good as the villain type story). They also need to have a name other than the dolphins in my honest opinion”
  31. “The broncos are who they are and all that it encapsulates – friday nights at suncorp, flashy, pressure etc. Having games on saturday or sunday will help. I think they should really embrace being a community club – by embracing those that already are on board. Example: highlight the NRL physio – he is 1000% a dolphins man already and they should make it seem like he is part of a place. The place where we all want to be.”
  32. “For one – more Saturday afternoon or Sunday afternoon games. We usually have magnificent winter days, and people love going to day games. I’m a bit tired of the drunk bogans on a Friday night tbh. Affiliations with junior clubs, reasonably priced family tickets. Really push the family atmosphere mate (I think). I see the peanuts acting up at Broncos games and think I don’t want my kids witnessing this rubbish.”
  33. “I think them having a well known coach and building an impressive roster of team players. I think having a long time until they officially start in the NRL gives time to promote for members. Media exposure has been sparse of late but when Wayne Bennett was announced as coach, it was a buzz for the team and a reason for people to take them seriously.”
  34. “I think the best thing that they can do (that has no cost) is involve fans in the creative process – Jerseys, apparel, social media templates ect. Get fans involved and invested in the club straight away by letting them decide how the club is going to look. First impressions are everything, and if they do it themselves and get it wrong it will be hard to recover. The broncos have such a strangle on Brisbane and the surrounds and the Titans have made good inroads in NSW, so it will be interesting to see how they market to those areas. As I said I think it all comes back to showing that the club offers a unique experience for fans where they can be involved in some decision making”
  35. “Social media playbook. First step is defining your voice. Who are you, what do you stand for, how do you communicate. – If I were them, I’d be taking an edgy, aggressive, upstart tone. Broncos are established. You need to get attention. Think a youngest child mentality. Be the smartass, the one who gets into trouble, the one who is goading their siblings because they want attention. – IMPORTANT to get senior management, coaching staff and players fully on board with this. – Get the players into the community as much as possible. Schools, charity, local business etc. – Set the bar for elite digital content. A new club has the advantage of being new and interesting. Fans of OTHER teams are going to follow them because they want to see how they announce themselves. So bespoke illustration, memes, high quality graphics etc. Be a leader in this space. – Set up “sister” teams/clubs/sports. I don’t know culturally/regionally how this will work, but for example, if you find out Patty Mills is a Dolphins fan, align with Brooklyn and make them your NBA team. They probably won’t have much interest in spending much time on that, but nothing stopping the Dolphins from doing a special graphic for key games, or a graphic jersey concept, or a merchandise collab. – Find ways to needle the Broncos. Think about it….. your fans are going to be Dolphins diehards, or non-Broncos NRL fans who want to see some banter.”
  36. “But some of the things I’d look at doing (based on what clubs are doing overseas) are: – consider e-sports – NRLW team ASAP – Wheelchair team ASAP – No pokies – youth engagement: well publicised event days to engage with local youth – have a clear, demonstrated policy around sustainability/environment – good F&B offering (including appropriate pricing) – active engagement with local charities – good apparel partner: making the kit something that people want to wear, with push into ‘fashion’ Aim is to make the club more than about sport, that people support regardless of the results.”
  37. “I think Dolphins need to come out winning, which is going to be tough on them and they are going to have to be consistent. I think broncos fans have had enough of the up and down of team and getting their hopes up. Although I think 2023 will be a different year for them. If the dolphins come out strong and consistent, I think they will turn a lot of SE QLD sports fans heads.”

Plenty of good thoughts here around identity, brand, fan engagement with a lot more to think about as well.

At the end of the day the most important thing is what happens on the field.

Win games and the fans will come!

NRL BRISBANE BRONCOS FAN EXPERIENCE REVIEW, SUNCORP STADIUM, BRISBANE 13/8/22

Another brilliant fan experience and event presentation last night from Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium culminating with a Broncos win 28-10 over Newcastle Knights.


The Paddock Club outside the ground is always a highlight pre-game with the seating area, food trucks and kids zone while the activations inside with the KIA ‘Beast Mode’ and lighting and fireworks show have stepped up the game day entertainment this year.


The free Broncos trading cards have also been some of the best design work from NRL club land this year too.


Well done to all NRL fans from both teams for being respectful during the Paul Green moment of silence and for the venue for setting up a flower memorial outside for fans too.


#FanExperience #FanEngagement #BrisbaneBroncos #SuncorpStadium #NRL

Brisbane Broncos NRL Fan Experience at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, 10/07/2022

The Brisbane Broncos put on an absolute fan experience master class today at Suncorp Stadium for the 30th anniversary of the 1992 National Rugby League NSWRL Grand Final win.

All week the Broncos front of house has been producing stellar content online and throughout the club for fans with the focus on this Heritage Round clash and they have done an absolutely marvellous effort for fans both on-field, at the venue and online.

From the extremely popular FREE trading cards (hat tip to their designer as these are outstanding!) to the pet zoo that had kids going wild in the Paddock Club to the Tina Turner singer performing classic retro hits at half time, this was a very good game day and testament to the positive family vibes and stellar fan engagement that the Broncos team put on.

The photo booth activation inside the ground was also a cool experience to participate in and similar to one I did back at Staples Center for a LA Kings game in 2015.

The Broncos did a really good job with the retro merchandise too which was flying out of the stadium with caps and special commemorative shirts as well as the 1992 retro and 2022 heritage jerseys being big winners amongst fans today.

The pre-game lap of honour by the class of 1992 along with the fireworks, Buck the Bronco horse and the RACE THE KIA man were all fun highlights for fans too.

As always the fan journey to the ground is outstanding with free travel on public transport (a good tip for anyone driving and parking in the city that the King George Square car park is $5 on weekends and has dedicated pram bays) while I have to give a shout out to the Suncorp Stadium baby change rooms which were clean while the staff member who helped fill up Ramona’s water bottle offered superb customer service and awareness.

Ramona and I had a fantastic family day on her annual visit for a Broncos game day at Suncorp Stadium.

Sport is just so wonderful how it brings us together ❤️

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

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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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

Cronulla Sharks NRL Fan Experience at Points Bet Stadium/Shark Park, Cronulla, Sydney, 28/05/22

It was a cool night in Sydney as I made the trek from Central station down south to Woolaware station in Cronulla for the Sharks versus Roosters (Cronulla vs Easts) NRL rugby league match at Points Bet Stadium or Shark Park (or Caltex Field) for the league aficionados. 


Taking the train for about $5 one way on the Sutherland line I left the city at about 5pm to travel the hour or so to the closest train station within walking distance to the stadium.


Arriving into Woolaware station just after 6pm, I walked the 15 minutes or so south through unlit suburban Cronulla streets to the stadium with other fans who had made the same journey. 


It’s an easy walk to the venue and you can hear the music and see the lights from the distance as you get closer but it’s also very dark along the path of the back streets to the ground so careful on your feet.


The stadium is undergoing construction all around it both for the stadium and for the buildings close by however this didn’t stop the game from being a sell-out with fans flocking to the popular indigenous round game tonight. 


This is an old-school venue without the bells and whistles, without the tech, with the lines and bottlenecks but it’s also a ground with soul, community vibes and a charm that is hard to beat. The fans bring the atmosphere and combined with the energy on the hill, the match days here are electric and pumping. 


Walking into the venue through the old turnstile hut, we were greeted with a polite welcome and asked if we knew where we were going which is 10/10 for customer service and the fan journey to have someone offer to assist you in my opinion. 


Making my way inside I grabbed a beer at the first bar I found which was charging $8.50 for middies but in tinnies and 80c for a cardboard tray. The ability to get an ice-cold tin at the footy seems to be lost in some states’ venues across Australia but in Sydney, it’s great to be able to crack a coldie and take up a view from the hill. It’s relaxed and enjoyable to stand on the grassy hill, strike up a conversation with other fans and take in the action on the field. Retro sharks jerseys were abundant tonight and you could have made about 20 full teams of players in Power’s Brewers retros or Aussie Duct kits.


I walked around the venue a couple of times to soak it all up here, from the smells of hot cinnamon donuts and spicy bratwursts cooking to the sounds of laughter from families and kids rolling down the hill and kicking footies to each other. It’s all just a really positive community vibe out here at Cronulla. 


The food and beverages ranged from the standard fare of pies and hot dogs to gourmet bratwursts (standard $12 and double bangers $20!) and buttermilk chicken burgers and crisps for $15.50. There was also ice cream, souvlaki, nachos, and the ever-popular chips on a stick. Prices were standard for footy matches with the main difference being the abundance of local gourmet food truck offerings. Lines were long at times and bottlenecks formed due to the compact size of the venue and narrow concourses however like most venues you can bring in your own snacks and it’s always best to grab food before the match kicks off plus these lines got smaller as the game got underway. 


The fan engagement (kids jumping castle) and activations from sponsors (player photo ops and giveaways to fans) as well as the half time entertainment were quality with the indigenous focus for NRL Indigenous Round being a highlight to see Australian country legend Col Hardy perform ‘I am, You Are, We Are Australian’ to a rapturous sing-along and applause from the crowd. The fireworks and music also added to the atmosphere. 


A highlight before kick-off was the exceptional welcome to country by a lovely lady whose name I missed on the night. This indigenous elder spoke so beautifully about respect, inclusion and community and summed up so perfectly the basis of the round and also what we can all do to make our country a more respectful and tolerant place to live in.


The Kurranulla Sharks got flogged from the get-go by the Gadigal Roosters in this one-sided match with Easts running out 36-16 winners in a dissapointing night for local fans and a score I didn’t predict and which ruined my tips. All was not lost though as we and many others had a fantastic time at Shark Park with local fans. 


The exit home from Shark Park was a brisk 15-minute walk back to the train station at Woolaware and then a 50-minute train ride home to Central station. The only downside was that the toilets were locked at Woolaware station which frustrated some fans and even police who were annoyed that they couldn’t use them. 


Overall a quality night out at Cronulla’s home venue of Points Bet/Shark Park stadium with much to enjoy about the fan experience here on a moving indigenous round night. 

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.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hand sanitizer stations abundant throughout the venue.

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

I Asked Every NRL Club Why I Should Become A Member…..Here Are The Responses

The NRL season is back soon and along with my fellow NRL and rugby league fans, I am pumped to be getting back out to games at a time when the game seems to be even bigger than ever…..but maybe it’s just Tina Turner singing in the background. Anyway…..

In an effort to see why I should become a member of an NRL club and what benefits each team offered their fans for the 2020 season, I sent an email under the alias Jack Gilmore (a combination of two of my favourite fictional film sports characters in Jackie Moon from Semi-Pro and Happy Gilmore from Happy Gilmore) to ask a couple of questions and see how teams would reply. (Note: Having worked with the majority of clubs in some capacity, I used an alias because if I used my real name they’d have caught on straight away and I wanted to get 100% honest and genuine replies).

I wanted to see the following:

  • Who responded the quickest
  • Who didn’t respond at all. Hopefully, they’d all reply. Every team needs every fan to sign up to increase memberships.
  • Why I should become a member of each club and who answered the specific question ‘Why Should I Become A Member of your club’
  • What benefits were included in memberships compared to others across the NRL
  • Who was persistent and followed up by trying to get the membership and sale finalized 
  • Who came across as genuine and authentic rather than an auto-reply response

Here are the results:

National Rugby League:

  • 11 of the 16 teams I emailed had replied with responses at the time of writing this blog post on Wednesday morning 4/3/2020.
  • Six teams replied with automatic responses within one minute of my email (these were Newcastle, NZ, Melbourne, Parramatta, Brisbane, and Gold Coast) with four of these following up afterward with more detailed responses. This was a simple way to both illustrate that the team had received the email, that the fan would get a reply soon and that they immediately received confirmation that their request was being actioned.
  • The Storm and Knights didn’t follow up on their initial emails saying they’d get back to me though which is fine as you’d assume that more than likely a fan would follow up with the auto-reply.
  • Not a single club sent a follow-up email when I had not responded within a week so it would be interesting to see how persistent they are before getting back to these potential fans to try to sign them up closer to the season start date. You have to be persistent. 
  • Only 8 of 16 actually bothered to answer my question about why I should support the team. Listening is vital. 

Response Times:

I sent an email out to every team’s membership email account at 10am on Tuesday the 25th of February which stated:

“Hello, 

I’m looking at becoming a member this year having recently relocated back home. 

Just a GA seat, one seat for me, cheapest, please.

What is the best reason to become a member of the club and why should I bother? 

Any incentives, deals, promos? What do you guys do for me as a member that’s good? 
Can you send me any details on membership packs and what I get in them too, please?
Thanks”

At the time of writing this on 4/3/2020, of the 16 teams I wrote to using their membership emails, only 11 of the clubs responded to my email asking about becoming a member.

I followed up with an email to the five who didn’t respond on Wednesday morning 4 March seeking to see about a reply to my initial email. It’s totally understandable that these emails can fall through the cracks but for someone wanting to sign up it’s imperative that this happens infrequently so as to avoid a potential lost sale and membership.

By Wednesday afternoon I had heard back from two more clubs so 13 of the 16 had responded by Wednesday afternoon.

Of the 11 teams who responded after my initial email:

  • Fastest response: 11 minutes from Parramatta. Brilliant.
  • 6 responded within 42 minutes
  • 8 responded on the same day
  • 10 responded within 1 day and a few hours
  • 8 actually answered the question I asked about why it’s worth becoming a member and why I should do that

I guess what was one thing that was interesting was that of the six teams who followed up instantly with automatic replies saying they’d get back to me ASAP, two of those (Melbourne and Newcastle) didn’t actually respond until I wrote back to them and then they did which was great to see.

An important thing to note is that I don’t think fans should expect a reply straight away and the clubs made mention of this in the automatic replies that they’d respond in one to two days. However, it is absolutely vital that all enquiries are actioned and the loop is closed sufficiently by replying to either get the fan over the line and bag the sale/membership and/or to collect the data (name/email) to follow up with at a later point when trying again whether that is next week, month or season. They’ve reached out to you and are halfway towards a sale. 

The following is the time the team responded along with the total time from

Lessons:

  • It is vital to follow up with everyone who contacts your business. And then follow up again….and again. Not harassing them and certainly not when they’ve told you to stop but you have to be persistent. Sometimes it’s a long game. They have made the effort to engage with you which means they are halfway there to a sale.
  • It’s great to have an automatic reply but if you don’t follow up these are pointless.
  • Being genuine and authentic will lead to a sale. The responses below where the membership team person went out of their way to tell me why I should sign up actually enticed me to think about doing just that if I lived locally to those clubs.
  • Answering the question that is asked cuts down time for both parties back and forth, gives the person what they’re after and highly likely leads to a sale as they have all the information to make an informed buying decision.
  • Asking to call or grab a number is important. The more info you can collect the better but also the chances of a sale are higher if you can speak to a person and state your case effectively and clearly in person or over the phone.
  • Never be afraid to upsell or talk about add-on’s and trying to sell other items. Sometimes the customer/fan doesn’t know what’s available and you might just have an even better deal for them plus bringing in more selling points leads to more sales. I was surprised that no one bothered to talk about hospitality or merchandise or try to push me with upselling to get even more bang for my buck (although perhaps that’s where they did listen as I mentioned I only wanted the cheapest GA ticket)
  • Not many asked me questions about my motivations for buying. That’s important as it can answer a lot of questions to round out a sale.
  • All in all, what a bargain these NRL memberships are! I can’t wait to get out to the grounds in 2020. 
  • I’d love to have seen the Tigers, Sharks and Panthers replies too however these memberships are available in the links if anyone wants to view them. They are equally impressive too. 
  • If you’re an NRL member sign up to your club and support the game. NRL has never been in a better position and as a hardcore fan myself I am pumped to be getting back out to the grounds.

Responses:

The following are the responses from each club along with some notes.

Parramatta Eels

Thank you for your email.

That’s great to hear you are interested in becoming a member!

I highly recommend our General Admission membership as I will list below what you receive in it.

Note: if you buy a full season general admission adult pass you receive a free junior up to the age of 18.

General Admission (11 games): unreserved

Adult: $200

Concession: $190

Junior: Free with full paying adult or $100 for an extra junior

Family: $400

Members pack:

Adult:

  • Cap
  • Keyring
  • Lanyard
  • Sticker set

Junior:

  • Lanyard
  • Sticker set
  • Junior cap

As being a 2020 member, you will also receive a range of benefits such as:

  • Integrated game day public transport
  • Access to the brand-new members offers program
  • Access to Members Lounge ’47
  • Access to Members’ loyalty program, including Member Loyalty Events
  • Access to cash-back member seat resale program (Reserved Seat Members only)
  • 10% discount off selected Eels home game tickets
  • BONUS! 15% discount at the Eels Online Store
  • Priority buying window for all Eels home games
  • Priority buying window for NRL major events
  • Member Event Invitations
  • Member-first club communication

I hope this helps you understand the way our memberships work in more detail.

Notes:

  • Super fast response
  • Loaded with info on memberships and inclusions
  • Actually sounds like the best membership to sign up to as well given all the benefits. Parra fans have it good there.

New Zealand Warriors

Thank you for your e-mail and we appreciate all of your support and interest in becoming a member for the 2020 season! We are eager for the upcoming 2020 season as the boys have been training extremely hard and are all in for a great season ahead, so we’d love to have you on board during this exciting time! The following options would be your General Admission memberships for the season and I’ve included the benefits that you receive as a member-

The Interchange (general admission) Membership Options are as follows-

–              Either 5, 9 or 18-ticket General Admission passes

                Full Season –  Flexi 5 game  ($85 in total)  

                                         Flexi 9 game  ($144 in total)                                                                                              

                                         Flexi 18 game ($270 in total)                                                       

–              Can spread all games across the season or use all at once with your friends and family

–              An adult membership pack which includes a CCC member’s cap, Vodafone Warriors bumper sticker, 2020 memberships pass and lanyard

–              Access to members-only online newsletter

–              Access to the members’ clubroom

–              10% ticket discount to Vodafone Warriors regular season home games at Mt Smart

–              10% merchandise discount at our super store or online at www.warriorsstore.co.nz

–              Second-priority ticketing access to NRL Finals and State of Origin

If you are able to attend every home game at Mt Smart Stadium, I would consider the Flexi 9 option for $144 for the season. Alternatively, if you needed a bit more flexible of an option and you are not able to attend all of the home games I’d suggest the Flexi 5 option for $85. If you plan on bringing someone else along to every game with you I’d consider the Flexi 18 for $270.

Thanks again Jack and please let me know if you have any other questions and I’d be happy to help.

Notes:

  • Provided options
  • Added a link
  • Added info on membership inclusions
  • Fantastic answer as to why I should sign on as a member

St. George Illawarra Dragons

Thanks for your email and interest in becoming a Red V Member.

Membership is the highest commitment a supporter can make to their club – which we reward for your direct financial contribution. All members would receive exclusive benefits including the best value for home game tickets and away ticket offers, discounts on Dragons merchandise, exclusive access to meet the team through member events, and chances to win member experiences and prizes! You can read more about our member benefits here.

Currently, all members who sign up by the 2nd March will be included on our annual Red V Member Wall. The yearly designed wall will show the names of all members who have signed up prior to that deadline and will be displayed at all Dragons home games and selected member events. Members will also receive exclusive access to an Anzac Day ticket pre-sale next week with 20% off tickets (along with existing 20% off all Dragons home game tickets) and a pre-sale for the NRL Grand Final later in March!

For information and images regarding your membership pack, please click here.

You would have multiple options regarding a GA seat – it would depend on how many games you’d get to throughout the year. Your options would include:

Flexi 3 GA for $70: Access to 3 Dragons home games between Kogarah or Wollongong

Wollongong Pass GA for $135: Access to 6 Dragons home games at Wollongong

Kogarah Plus GA for $135: Access to 5 Dragons home games at Kogarah and 1 at the SCG for Anzac Day

Full Season GA for $240: Access to all 12 Dragons home games

Let us know if you had any further questions.

Notes:

  • Provided a very good response to my question about why I should get a membership
  • Added a link to memberships
  • Provided different options
  • All members signed up before 2/3 also had the chance to be on the REDV wall too.

Sydney Roosters

Thank you for your email. Great to hear you are interested in becoming a Member.

Our coach Trent Robinson describes our Members as the foundation of our club. The support from our Members by turning up to games and paying Membership fees plays a big role in the club’s success.

If you are interested in general admission seating, the Bronze Membership is your best choice. The Membership costs $150, which includes access to 10 home games (8x SCG, 1 Gosford, 1 North Sydney Oval), which is a significant saving in comparison to purchasing a GA ticket ($30/game pre-sale) to every home game. As a Member, you can also purchase tickets with a 10% discount at Central Coast and 30% at SCG home games so that it is also more affordable to bring family and friends with you to games.

The bronze Membership is counted as a Ticketed Membership, which includes receiving your Membership card, lanyard, keyring, stickers and fixture magnet, and a coupon so that you can collect your choice of a cap, scarf or can cooler at a home game, Members BBQ, or from the Spring St entrance at Easts Leagues.

To purchase the Bronze Membership, please visit: https://am.ticketmaster.com/roosters/bronze-membership#/

Alternatively you can call us on 1300 327 871 to purchase your Membership.

Notes:

  • Answered my question about why its good to become a member
  • Provided link to the membership
  • Provided info on what’s included in membership packs

Canberra Raiders

Thanks for your email. Please use the link below to find all our exclusive member benefits for season 2020. Due to a large influx of members this year we recommend purchasing your membership at some point today in order to ensure that you receive a membership pack.

https://www.raiders.com.au/membership/packages/full-season/bronze-general-admission/

We hope to see you as part of the Raiders family in season 2020.

Notes:

  • Provided a link to memberships

Brisbane Broncos

It is great to hear you are looking to become a member with us for the 2020 season!

With regard to your requirements, were you looking at a full season membership or possibly a 4 game membership?

A great reason to become a member with us this year is that we strongly believe 2020 will be a massive year for the boys on the field, and we think it’s not one to be missed. Aside from that though by becoming a member for 2020 you also gain access to a myriad of benefits which include; discounted home game tickets through Ticketek for family and friends, pre-sale access to NRL finals games involving us, access to discounts in our Team Store, plus access to offers from our many sponsors and partners.

By also becoming a member you have access to exclusive member content via our Member Mail email which is sent to you each week. This content also includes member only competitions that you can enter which gives you access to prizes and experiences that non-members and fans can’t get.

For more information on all of our membership packages you can head to our membership website via the link here. If you would like to discuss any of our options as well you can certainly give us a call anytime

Notes:

  • Answered the question quite well and got me excited for the season ahead.
  • Provided heaps of information and a membership link
  • Told me about membership incentives and information like competitions and merch
  • A side note on this. I bought my Broncos membership for 2020 last week and they were equally switched on to helping me out as they were to helping old mate ‘Jack’ out lol. 

North Queensland Cowboys

Hey Jake,

I have link below our Gold Star Unreserved Membership, which is our GA product.

Feel free to have a look over the inclusion and if you have any questions let me know

https://www.cowboys.com.au/membership/packages/full-season/gold-star-unreserved/

Notes:

  • Far out, I love the Cowboys and can’t wait to get up to the new stadium for the opening game but….
  • They got my fake name wrong! haha this actually made me laugh so kudos for that.

  • A few grammatical errors but who cares really about these at least they responded!

  • Didn’t tell me why it’d be great to support the team or any benefits

  • Provided a link to memberships which was useful to look over and get excited about.

  • The most glaring omission is the fact that YOU HAVE A BRAND NEW STADIUM TO TELL ME ABOUT BUT MADE NO MENTION OF IT! A key thing a fan would want to know about. 

  • Still, these things happen and no doubt they are under the pump with the brand new stadium and doing a superb job in getting everything ready for the opening game. As a proud North Queenslander supporter, I still bought a jersey this year too. Up the Cowboys!

Manly Sea Eagles

We have GA Memberships for $205 for the season. This includes all 10 Lottoland home games.

The way our GA seating works is on a first come first served basis, so you would need to secure your own seat.

With this specific pack you have the option of receiving either a cap, beanie or scarf, as well as a Member card, lanyard, sticker and keyring.

One of the best benefits is the cost. A Membership works out much cheaper than purchasing tickets game by game.

In addition to this your receive a 10% discount on merchandise, pre-sale access to different Rugby Leagues events such as NRL finals and Origin. We also hold Member only events throughout the season too, such as our Members Christmas BBQ where all players are in attendance 

That is kind of our Membership in a nutshell, I guess most importantly though it’s the best way to support the Club that you follow!

Please see the link below for additional information about the specific pack it sounds would be most suitable for you:

https://www.seaeagles.com.au/membership/packages/general-admission/the-47s-general-admission/

Another thing to note, is we also have 3 or 5 game GA Memberships if you don’t think you’ll make all 10 games.

Notes:

  • Provided extra info and insights
  • Provided link to membership
  • Told me why its good to support the club
  • Talked about the benefits
  • Told me what incentives and inclusions are in the packs

Gold Coast Titans

Thank you for reaching out to the Membership Team upon your move back home!

If you’re looking to attend home games this year at Cbus Super Stadium, having a Membership with the club is the best financial option in which to do so and you receive an exclusive Member’s cap and pack. In addition to this, if you wish to purchase additional tickets you receive a 15% Member’s discount, an invitation to exclusive member events, free public transport on game-day, a Parkwood Social Membership, and free feeder club entry, amongst other benefits.

We’d love to have you onboard for our fight in 2020 so please see below for a link to the packages:

GA Membership:

https://am.ticketmaster.com/goldcoasttitans/Packages/generaladmission#/

If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to respond to this email or alternatively give us a call via our hotline as we’d be more than happy to help.

I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Notes:

  • Provided membership link
  • Answered question about the cheapest option
  • Told me why it’s good to be a member

South Sydney

Thank you for contacting the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

I have attached the link with details of the General Admission Member Pack https://membership.rabbitohs.com.au/general-admission/.

This Membership is a Full Season Member Pass, meaning that you will have access to all Rabbitohs NSW Home Games Plus Reciprocal Away Games and pick your seat in our General Admission Seating each Match. 

-You will receive a Cap/Scarf (Member’s Choice Item)

-Membership Card

-Bumper Sticker

-Fixture Magnet

-Lanyard

-$20 online merchandise voucher

-10% off Rabbitohs Merch

-Rabbitohs Rewards Pass

-Exclusive Sponsor Offers

-Entry to the 2020 Member’s Tipping Competition

-Access to P&O Member’s Deck at post-match functions

-Choose from a selection of players on your Member card

Scroll through the link to view these items visually.

If you don’t think you are going to be present at all the Home Games, we do have the option of purchasing a Flexi 3 or 5 game Membership which will grant you access to either 3 or 5 Home Games depending on what suits you best.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Notes:

  • Provided merch info and inclusions in the membership pack
  • Provided link to the memberships
  • Didn’t tell me why I should support the team

Canterbury

Thank you for contracting the Bulldogs Membership Team.

That’s good to hear mate  that you are interested in becoming a Bulldogs Membership for the 2020 season.

We are only a couple of days out from our first game of the season and the Club and teams need you and your support for the 2020 season.

Our cheapest General Admission membership is the Blue Zone membership for $145.

The following link contains all the information regarding the Blue zone membership: https://www.bulldogs.com.au/membership/packages/general-admission/blue-zone/

Could you please give me a day and time that suits you best so I can give you a call to renew your membership for 2020?

If you have any questions please feel free to give us a call back on 1300 769 164 or simply respond to this email.

Notes:

  • Provided a membership link
  • Provided a number to call
  • Provided the cheapest option
  • Answered question about membership
  • Asked to follow up with me with a call

Melbourne Storm 

Thank you for your email

Below is a link to our membership packages

https://www.melbournestorm.com.au/membership/packages/

What is your best contact number to call you on regarding this

Looking forward to hearing back from you

Notes:

  • Asked to call me to follow up which was good to see. A genuine call gets a higher chance of a sale every time.
  • Linked in info on membership info
  • Didn’t answer the question about why I should become a member of the Storm but would likely do that over phone

Newcastle Knights

He is a link to our membership website https://knightshub.com.au/membership/, here you will be able to browse the different memberships we have on offer and choose what best suits you. Each of our membership offers discounts on merchandise and ticketing on top of the membership pack that you will receive.

The greatest part about becoming a member is showing your support and becoming a part of a club you feel passionate about.

Please let me know if I can help you with anything further.

Kind regards,

Notes:

  • Answered the question quite well here
  • Provided links and info

Cronulla

  • No response to the initial email
  • No response to follow up email

Penrith

  • No response to the initial email
  • No response to follow up email

Wests Tigers

  • No response to the initial email
  • No response to follow up email

A note on Cronulla, Penrith and Wests Tigers. Even if these three caught on that this wasn’t a real member inquiry the fact that the vast majority are all cut and paste automatic reply emails means it doesn’t take much effort to just reply. The emails have no doubt fallen into the spam, opened and closed or just forgotten about folder. Even after I bothered to follow up with another email. However, whatever the case if you’re a fan of these clubs and myself having done their games days, I’d still 100% sign up for a membership of these clubs as they’re all doing exceptional things in the community and on game days. Plus….suburban grounds, gotta love that!

 

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.

2018 NRL Team By Team Fan Engagement Review

The 2018 NRL season has come and gone faster than a $2.50 NRL match day chiko roll at ANZ Stadium but what a year it has been for rugby league fans and members who have been well looked after and rewarded by their respective teams.

Whether it be venue fan first pricing offers for members on food and beverages, a focus on emerging technologies or the inclusive approach of introducing a female mascot, 2018 has seen an outstanding array of quality fan engagement initiatives for NRL fans. With the main decider taking place on Sunday, this recap featuring 250+ images shines a light on some of the 200+creative and compelling strategies, ideas and incentives that NRL club members and league fans were rewarded with over the course of the season by teams, venues and sponsors.

Having compiled this summary it is evident that some of the trends within the global fan engagement space have worked their way into the NRL and down to club level such as:

  • Fan first pricing at venues on F&B
  • Craft beer partnerships
  • Mini-documentaries 
  • Podcasting
  • Unique venue sponsor social seating spaces
  • Female mascots
  • Venue art works
  • Incorporation of Facebook Live for team TV shows
  • Game day light and sound shows 
  • Fan/member councils

While the latest and greatest in technology is often seen as a major focus within fan engagement, it is important to note that the types of fan engagement that are consistently highly regarded and well received by fans are the simple and authentic things which go such a long way in building that lifelong loyalty to the club as put simply, fan engagement can never be manufactured.

From a free flag and a surprise and delight gift under a members seat to guards of honour, members of the week or just having a player call a fan personally, there are so many simple, cost effective and creative ideas here which the NRL clubs have implemented for their fans this year. The RT’s and fan comments on social around these fan engagement activations and initiatives speak for themselves as NRL members and fans are positive about the game and about what their club is doing for them.

The summary below is by no means the definitive list of every NRL clubs’ fan engagement ideas or strategies however it certainly touches on a vast array of ideas from the tried and tested, quirky and interesting to some really creative, effective and exciting developments in fan engagement.

Thanks to the NRL fans who helped with suggestions for this article as well as the club and venue reps who provided me with some more information for activations and ideas that I wasn’t aware of.

Did you see something else out there that should be included too? Join the conversation on Twitter here or comment below.

I hope you enjoy this read fellow NRL fans and if you do enjoy this then feel free to read my monthly fan engagement publication FANS HQ or continue reading my blog which features close to 200 diverse global game day fan experience reviews along with many of my other published writing efforts.

Ok, lets get started…..

BRISBANE BRONCOS

  • The Paddock Club outside set up at Suncorp Stadium with food trucks, live bands and more

Further reading: Broncos game day review in FANS HQ #5

CANBERRA RAIDERS

  • Unveiling of the Canberra Raiders new female mascot Velda the Valkyrie and Valkyrie brand
  • Behind The Limelight Podcast
  • Dance School Competition for young fans to dance on game days at GIO Stadium
  • Viking clap continued going from strength to strength in 2018
  • Members Appreciation Round thanking fans for reaching 20,000 members for the first time in the clubs history
  • Lucky door prizes for members in the West Members lounge
  • Autograph Alley – 10 Junior Members invited to meet the team pre-game
  • Coin Toss 
  • Spin and Win half time activation where one fan won 50K this season
  • Warm-Up to watch the team warm-up
  • 40 Members lined up in the tunnel as the team ran out during the Viking clap and when the team took to the field after half time
  • 17 lucky members got a signed football from a player at full-time
  • Members could feature on a bottle of sponsor Canberra Milk’s choc mint bottles plus collect the player ones as well
  • ‘The Forever Green’ match that sees 60 old boys come back to the club for a guard of honour and to mingle with fans

CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS

  • Bulldogs $5 Fan Club ticket offer that let 2 adults and 2 kids in for $5 during one of the final rounds
  • Ticketing incentives like member’s being allowed to bring two mates along for free to experience a Bulldogs game
  • Coach’s Game Plan checklist
  • Bulldogs Family Zone including player post, blue member’s carpet, rides and inflatables
  • Fans First Initiatives at ANZ Stadium on F&B, ticket prices, free transport
  • Giveaways that included Metro thunder sticks, Justice league bars, chupa chups and chocolate
  • KIA Car VR driving experience, KIA Inflatable goal posts, KIA sideline experience
  • Kindi Farm (Petting Zoo)
  • McDonalds face painting
  • Roaming balloonist
  • Dream street Dance clinic
  • Pre-game Sapphires cheerleaders performances
  • Player farewell cards at Member Appreciation Round
  • 18 jersey presentation
  • Match ball delivered by a member
  • Pre-game jersey reveal
  • KIA Car giveaway at HALF-TIME
  • Members guard of honour
  • Members given the opportunity to watch team warm up on field
  • Players fathers guard of honour
  • Members guard of honour
  • Interview a Bulldog from young fans
  • First Year Members Function
  • #BeBrave.…this was outstanding from the club and this fan
  • Players like Aiden Tolman wishing fans happy birthdays
  • Member’s free pie and water offers on game day
  • Mystery packs for kids
  • ‘We Win, You Win’ sponsor deals
  • Simple to read and understand maps and game day guides for fans to get the most out of the day

Further reading: Bulldogs game day review from FANS HQ #7

CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS

  • Thank You to Emergency Services workers with free entry for these community legends
  • The Ultimate Upgrade Experience seating area 
  •  venue art work of this fierce shark at Allianz Stadium during the finals
  • Sharks TV Facebook Live show
  • Ticketing incentives- Bring a mate for $15
  • Members and fans invited onto the field after a win to join the players in singing the team song
  • Collectable pins for 2018 members
  • Trivia Night
  • F&B game day combos
  • Fan of the Week

Further reading: Sharks game day review from FANS HQ #8

GOLD COAST TITANS

  • Use of NightLife’s CrowdDJ platform to enable fans to select the game day playlist
  • Fans guard of honour
  • Free caps when fans buy a round of drinks
  • Player social takeovers
  • Free signed Deadly Choices jerseys from Preston Campbell when fans signed up for a health check
  • NAIDOC Event
  • F&B ticketing incentives
  • Two For One So Bring Mum ticketing deal for Women In League round
  • Holiday Clinics
  • Titans Talent Time

MANLY-WARRINGAH SEA-EAGLES

  • ‘Member of the month
  • Ticketing incentives such as two for one general admission
  • Sit in the ute on the hill and watch the game
  • Bird Gang match day helpers
  • SeaEagles Member Council
  • Beer & Pie F&B combo deals
  • Inflatables and kids activities
  • ’18th Man for NZ’
  • Thank you sign upon exiting is a nice touch as fans exit the venue
  • Guard of Honour for NRL players by fans with a female only fans for the Women In League round
  • 2018 Member of the Year
  • Members baby race
  • Surprise and Delight’ Member seat visits
  • $3 Mrs Mac’s Pie Vouchers for the first 300 fans to take advantage of at the Member Appreciation Round game
  • ‘Member Lawn’ area on season launch day where members were given direct access to the stars of the club
  • ‘Legend Of The Week’
  • Member Experiences
  • Post match laps of honour
  • Also pretty much the only club I’ve seen who consistently asked for fan feedback after every round on the match day experience in an effort to continually improve the game day for fans. Other teams did end of season surveys however it was just good to see this being a visible focus from the Sea-Eagles week in week out this year.

Further reading: Sea Eagles game day review from FANS HQ #3

MELBOURNE STORM

  • Projections on the AAMI Park roof and ‘Stadium Black Out’ with an electrifying pre-game featuring light shows, Billy & Hoffy tribute packages and roof projections
  • ‘Storm Man’, roving ‘Blimp Cam’ and ‘Oblivious Cam’ screen content fun
  • Colourful fan zone with VR activities and football skills drills
  • Free skills clinics
  • Ticketing incentives such as $3 tickets for first 300 fans for Billy Slater’s 300th game, bring the kids for free and Tight-arse Tuesday where fans got 50% tickets
  • Brick Lane craft beer partnership…not a bad drop at all and available in Edwin’s Cafe under the ground pre-game
  • Free TRY signs for fans
  • Nova Casanovas and NOVA DJs
  • Live pre-game concerts hosted by Molly Meldrum
  • Big Purple Splash with celebrities and the CEO dunked into purple water in the middle of AAMI Park
  • Multicultural Festival with food trucks
  • Cheerleader clinic for young fans
  • Open training sessions for fans young and old. 
  • Player meet and greets
  • ‘Kick on the Field’ at AAMI Park after the game
  • Billy’s Buddies membership for kids. One of the best kids memberships in the NRL
  • Half-time activations like a random schnitzel eating comp in partnership with fast food company Schnitz

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS

  • Inner sanctum pre-game on-field experiences
  • Inflatables and kids activities inside and out of McDonald Jones Stadium
  • Member’s entry line
  • Great family friendly activities at home games for the kids like face painting, balloons, petting zoos and jumping castles.
  • The Knights put a call out for fans to send their photos for Members Appreciation Round and a bunch were placed in the tunnel for the team to see during training and game day. Thanks to Knights member for this information and some of the pics below 
  • ‘Surprise and Delight’ for fans with game day giveaways and surprises
  • NIB Fortress social space
  • Free pins and posters for fans
  • Female fans names on back of players kits during Women In League round
  • Kalyn Ponga going out of his way for this young fan
  • The ‘Kick For a Car’ comp which saw this fan win the car after a cracking 40m kick. 

Further reading: Knights game day review from FANS HQ #7

NEW ZEALAND WARRIORS

  • Choose your own ticket price for the final home game. Tickets started at $5 but fans could pay whatever they wanted to
  • Vodafone and Mt Smart match day App. Some good fan experience ideas here.
  • Half time activation that was linked to an awareness campaign against drinking and driving. Two teams of fans competed on a relay obstacle race but with alcohol goggles on
  • Creation of only 100 exclusive ‘Mannering 300’ tees that fans could only buy during the game. These proved so successful that the fans asked for more quantity and the club agreed to doing pre-orders
  • Operation ‘Bring your banners for Manners which saw the club ask the fans to bring along their personalised banners. Thanks to @LGruffat for some tips here.
  • All Girls Football Clinic
  • Season ticket reductions. The Warriors announced that all 2019 reserved seat full season memberships have been reduced to just $199 in an effort to sell out every game in 2019. A huge win for fans this year.
  • They held the ‘Great Charity Day’ where fans raised tens of thousands of dollars
  • Be The Band music comp launched to find the house band at Mt Smart Stadium game days
  • They play other NRL games in the ground before the main game on the big screen
  • Quality kids membership packs
  • Mannering art work around the venue
  • Womens NRLW trial match and fan engagement
  • Member’s Appreciation Round
  • The creative and cheeky digital work on social from the Warriors digital team
  • There is also a fantastic fan experience review of the NZ Warriors here from Fan Striker

NORTH QUEENSLAND COWBOYS


 

PARRAMATTA EELS

  • Eels Member’s Council
  • Eels Fan Experience game day helpers team
  • Fans First Initiatives at ANZ Stadium on F&B, ticket prices, free transport
  • Member’s Lounge 47 with live entertainment, complimentary finger food & player appearances
  • Member Appreciation Round with FREE Rd 25 Flag Saturday Flag for the first 2000 fans
  • Members of the Month
  • 100% Attendance Winners joined the clubs 40 year + Members in the Guard of Honour
  • The Eels hid special giveaways and thank you plaques to fans in between seats at ANZ Stadium
  • Their ‘Game Day Guide’ is one of the best in the NRL and clearly shows fans the map of the venue as well as whats going on around the ground
  • Super Flag Saturday’s where the first 2000 fans received a flag on entry for Saturday games

PENRITH PANTHERS

  • Member’s pricing on F&B with the cheapest game day beer in Australia at $5.50
  • The Stand Up! Flags Up! campaign. The club’s call to arms where fans were encouraged to make their own Panthers flag, bring one from home or buy one from the Panther Shop. The main thing was to get involved and it worked incredibly well. Here’s some vision of when I attended in round one.

  • Panthers Local Hero recognized the local legends in the Panthers community
  • Player Playlist Takeover
  • ‘Play Like a Panther’ Clinic
  • Josh Mansour player resigning announcement played on the big screen at a home game in May
  •  venue art work featuring this mean looking Panther during the finals game at Allianz Stadium
  • $10 away game Panthers Bus to take fans to other matches around NSW
  • Old Boys Day
  • FREE Panthers Banger Sticks and Try Banners
  • Tooheys New Members Badge Draw. One fan below walked away with 12K on game day just for being in attendance
  • Kidz Korner with carnival rides including The Ferris Wheel, Pirate Ship, Swinging Chair Ride, Tiger Castle and The Storm which are all FREE for kids of all ages.
  • Free face painting and hair spray station for kids

Further reading: Panthers game day review from FANS HQ #3

SOUTH SYDNEY RABBITOHS

ST.GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS

 

  • Family Hill featured great activities for the kids with a jumping castle, green screen fun, face painters and the Dragons ‘pass the ball’ board.
  • ‘Sing To Win’ match day competition which gave fans the chance to win a $250 EFTPOS gift card thanks to Coca-Cola. To participate fans had to purchase a Coca-Cola product at the stadium and when the announcer asked them to stand up and sing they then showed the crowd their karaoke skills by singing into the Coca-Cola product.
  • Flag giveaways. 2000 free flags for fans
  • Regional game in Mudgee, NSW and member’s events
  • NRLW Player meet and greet with fans
  • ‘Fired Up’ Dance Cam
  • Signing Sessions
  • ‘Win a Spot’ in the team photo
  • Toowoomba Member’s Event
  • The heart warming story of the work that @TheNRLRoast and the Dragons player Jeremy Latinate did by trying to get a family with a child suffering from cerebral palsy into a training session before the Anzac Day game. The player helped the family get from Sydney and into a closed training session. All the players came up and got photos with the young fan and signed all his merch.

Further reading: Dragons game day review from FANS HQ #7

SYDNEY ROOSTERS

  • Rocky Run experience
  • Ticketing incentives like 30% off tix to celebrate 30 years at Allianz Stadium
  • Stand Up For a Jersey. Bisley WorkWear Make Yourself Visable competition to win a 2018 Roosters jersey
  • Ball Kid of the Game
  • World First jersey exchange with the team on the look out to upgrade old Roosters fans jerseys with a brand new 2018 jersey
  • Free popcorn on game days and row upgrades from sponsor Hoyts
  • The Roosters players featured the names of their mums in place of the sponsor logo on their jerseys in the Women In League round
  • Meet the NRLW Roosters players
  • Anniversary members lap of honour. Fans with 10, 20 etc year memberships got to walk around the ground pre-game
  •  stunning Roosters art work
  • Member’s BBQ

Further reading: Roosters game day review from FANS HQ #8

WESTS TIGERS

  • This Day Forward. The superb documentary series from the Tigers digital team. A must watch for all rugby league fans. They played this on the big screen before a game as well which was a nice idea to get fans into the ground earlier
  • Wests Tigers won the 2018 NRL Club Community Program of the Year for the club’s Varying Abilities Program
  • Free weekly wallpapers for fans mobiles and desktops from the digital team- a simple and nice touch for fans
  • Free TRY signs at games
  • Benji signing and giving away his boots to the young fan below
  • Fans First Initiatives at ANZ Stadium on F&B, ticket prices, free transport
  • KIA photo booth
  • Face Painting
  • Holiday clinics
  • Indigenous Round initiatives and activities for fans including: Traditional painting and didgeridoo lessons, Indigenous performances, Smoke ceremony performed by Muggera Dance Group, Clontarf Academy indigenous rugby league team game, Traditional Gift Exchange, Dance performances by Muggera Dance Group, Boot collection for regional communities. Additional pics from  and 
  • Wests Tigers fan bus #OnTheBus

Final note: 99% of the images here are mine having been taken on game days this year while traversing the grounds. I have however used images sourced from fans, venues and teams across their websites and social. Having previously worked in the music industry with photographers I am very conscious of respecting photographers copyright and work whether they be fan or professional. I have used some images under ‘fair use’ simply to highlight these fan engagement initiatives and have tried to credit everyone where possible. This article is also free and does not have any commercial gain attached to it. If you would like to be credited or have your photo removed please let me know and I will be happy to oblige with your demands. Thanks

The Importance and Benefits of Harnessing Fan Generated Content: An NRL 2018 Case Study

If it’s one part of the fan engagement spectrum that I have consistently championed over the years for clubs and my clients it has been to acknowledge, promote, utilise and harness the diverse skill sets of their fans. 

Fans have skills that can help a club in many ways whether it be from graphic design to podcasting and what we’re seeing more and more of is that teams are realising that they can create deeper emotional loyalty, new revenue opportunities and provide extra engaging content to their members and fans by working alongside these fan groups. 

Teams like the MLS Seattle Sounders are one of the best in the business when it comes to harnessing the skills of their fans. Every year they do a ‘Posters By The People‘ and a scarf design contest which allows Sounders fans of all ages and skill levels to contribute match day poster and scarf designs which are then voted on for by fellow fans and either used across the clubs official social media channels or produced for fans to wear on game day respectively.

It’s an incredibly effective and simple way to bring these fans closer to the team, highlight the skills and passions of their fans and overall it’s a positive thing to do. It’s not going to work for every team and it’s certainly never going to take over from the quality output that team staff do but it’s just a great look for a club to illustrate that they’re listening to their fans.

 

One reason for the proliferation of fan generated content has been because the barriers for entry into both graphic design and podcasting for instance have been broken down. You can now create quality designs and effective podcasts as a result of free design platforms like Canva whose intuitive platform enables anyone to get started creating content as well as podcasting’s explosion which has seen every man and his dog set up a podcast with the very basic of equipment. For both graphic design and podcasting the costs are also much lighter on the fans wallet these days as opposed to the past where expensive graphic design software and a recording studio would have stopped many fans from getting started. 

Now obviously the vast majority of fan generated content creators out there are not at the level of professional graphic designers or creating professional studio recorded quality podcasts such as what the league or teams contribute however what it does do is highlight that fans have these skills, that they’re building their own fan groups of fellow supporters of the same team and that their voice and that of fans voices globally are growing louder every day as they realise that they can create content that is highlighting their love for their team.

It’s impressive to see the rise and rise of the fan voice across the globe as they can now create content that other fans enjoy and engage with. Clubs should absolutely start tapping into this more and more as it shows an appreciation of the fans effort and compliments the work that their in house teams do whether that be in writing, podcasting, graphic design or other related fields. 

I recently posted this thread on Twitter highlighting the creative efforts of NRL fan content creators here in Australia after what has been a stellar year for the code with ratings, revenue, memberships, crowds all up as well as the establishment of the NRLW and games in Perth and Denver.

The game’s greatest asset is the fan so it is important to acknowledge these fans as they are constantly pumping out the positive, passionate and engaging content and I feel this illustrates my point that it is both vital and rewarding for clubs to find ways to engage, highlight, promote and harness the diverse range of skills of their fans as it is a win-win positive thing to do.

1. Podcasters

Having worked very closely in the podcasting space in recent times I have seen the rise of people wanting to get their passion into podcasting and as I said above the barriers have now decreased with a very basic bedroom podcasting set up costing well under $100. Podcast quality has also increased so while some pods may not be at a high quality level, whats happening is that fans are getting better the longer they stick with it. There’s also an incredibly strong community amongst these podcasters too. They do it for the love of the game. They promote each other and therefore that of the game and their team. They are broadcasters and should be taken seriously. 

Some of the podcasters out there in the NRL include:

Ladies Who League

Oh Errol

Full Credit To The Boys

The Full 80

Shark Cast

Fifth And Last

Progressive Rugby League

League Life NRL

Roosters Radio

Panthers Weekly

Dead in Goal

NRL Roast

Woody & Slugs Do League

Fire Up On FBI

This Week In League

Sports Best Friends

League Digest

Zero Tackle

NRL Boom Rookies

Fins Up Pod

League Counsel

ASD Podcast

View From The East Stand

2. Statistics/Game Data

Fans like stats guru Andrew Ferguson who runs one of the best league sites out there in Rugby League Project is an incredible fan generated site which houses a massive range of rugby league data and is an absolute credit to the game. I find myself using this site a lot as do other NRL fans. Another fan doing good things with stats is pythagoNRL.

3. Sports Science

In a classic case of a fan using their diverse skills to offer the rest of us an insight into player injuries and recovery, the NRL Physio has provided some really interesting insights and analysis for NRL fans this year. The NRL should find a way to utilise his skills as fans have greatly enjoyed his insights and graphics in real time during games on social as he provides game player injuries and recovery information and analysis. He knows he’s not affiliated with the NRL and that what he says is only his opinion however he has built an incredibly strong trust with fellow fans as a result of his skills and willingness to want to contribute to his passion.

4. Independent Broadcasters

The independent fan NRL media, broadcasters and writers like The 81st Minute, Steele Sport, League Unlimited, Nothing But NRL, Steve Mascord, James Smith, RLeagueLive, JasonNRL and even to an extent ‘The Fan which while it may be shown on Fox Sports is run by mega league fan Andrew Voss who consistently provides outstanding behind the scenes storytelling that fans greatly enjoy. 

5. Fan Club Social Accounts

The NRL fan club accounts across social constantly provide fellow fans with a passionate atmosphere at games as well as insights and analysis throughout the week and add to the stories and content from the club but from their perspective as hardcore fans.

Some of these include: 

NRL Bulldogs Fans

Nothing But Knights

The Greenhouse- Canberra Raiders

Red V Mail- St George-Illawarra Dragons

NZ Warriors Die Hards

The Burrow- Souths

Wests Tigers Hub

Titans Legion- Gold Coast Titans

NQ Stampede- NQ Cowboys

Eels The Cumberland Throw- Parramatta

6. Social Commentators

The often hilarious NRL social commentators who constantly provide cheeky laughs, clever analysis, interesting stats, glorious memories as well as cutting through the media bullshit, crisis merchants and spin that often snakes its way into the game. In fact what we’ve seen this year is that as a result of the positives in the game as well as the huge level of fan generated content and these positive fan voices in NRL that fans have collectively called out the rubbish reporting and negativity in rugby league. 

Some of the accounts to follow on Twitter for instance include:

Boring NRL Guy

Sports Freakshow

Former Legend

Karate Warrior 2

Winfield Cup

NRL Grammar Cop

Simpsons NRL 

7. The Graphic Designers

The graphic designers like  and  as well as others who’ve put their own skills and spin on things to create interesting NRL content like jersey designs and artworks are to be applauded. Perhaps a game day poster idea could be something teams could think about for 2019 and then have these around town prior to a game to promote the match. 

8. The Hardcore Fans

And then there’s fans like who travelled 19259.4kms for 24/24 Parramatta Eels matches this year, documenting his journey along the way for fellow NRL fans to enjoy. What were some of the other great NRL fan stories you enjoyed from 2018?

Overall it’s been a huge positive year for both the NRL and NRL fans and I just wanted to put this together before the start of the NRL finals to shine a light on some of the creative content creators and fans out there who go above and beyond for the game. League’s greatest asset is the fan and the faster clubs around the globe realise the benefits of working closer with these particular fans and their skills, the more the game, fans and the code as a whole will grow together.

2017 AFLGF and NRLGF Fan Engagement/Experience Overview

With the 2017 AFL (Adelaide Crows Vs. Richmond Tigers) and NRL (Melbourne Storm Vs. North Queensland Cowboys) grand finals happening in Melbourne and Sydney this weekend respectively here’s a quick snapshot of what fans can look forward to in the lead up and on the day at both of these major Australian sporting events. 

AFL

Starting with the AFL and the league has done a tremendous job down in Yarra Park outside the MCG with the massive free AFL Footy Festival which has been put on for big and small Aussie Rules fans. Featuring a fan engagement extravaganza of authentic sponsor activations, photo opportunities and giveaways, the free footy festival is a young fans paradise.

The focus on fan engagement for kids here is impressive with the AFL Rookie Passport standing out along with the ‘Dunkinator’, ‘Tower of Torp’ and countless skills drills workshops involving the Sherrin footies bouncing all over the park. The new UberEATS partnership allows fans to skip the queues at an exclusive VIP area while there’s loads of gourmet F&B offerings from local food trucks like Biggie Smalls and Gelato Messina. If you’re in Melbourne it’s well worth getting down here to check it all out and take in the AFL Grand Final atmosphere.

Doughnut Time has some special Dustin Martin and Tex Walker styled doughnuts for fans to try while there are endless photo opportunities, bars and food stands that deserve a look in. This is one impressive set up outside the G!

Here’s a walk through of the event I did on Wednesday when it first opened. 

Uber is also giving fans in Melbourne $20 in free credit (with no catches) to enable them to get to or from the game at the MCG. There is also a dedicated Uber pick up and drop off zone outside the MCG on Clarendon Street where fans will no doubt be given a code to wait for their driver to arrive as has been the case with my experiences outside NBA and NFL venues with Uber partnerships. The Melbourne free tram zone has also been extended to allow fans more access to get to and from the venue for a cheaper price and relieve congestion. 

The Adelaide Crows have held an open training session and also updated their impressive club app to include ‘Facepaint’ which allows fans to paint their faces within the app. 

The Richmond Tigers have also put on a live site on Saturday for fans without AFL Grand Final tickets but this is sure to sell out. 

My tip: Adelaide Crows by 26.

 

NRL

The NRL put on a fan fest on Thursday for rugby league fans at Luna Park which featured rides, player appearances and a family zone. Fans were able to grab some photos with players, see the grand final teams be presented and see all the mascots in a mascot parade. 

At Sydney’s ANZ Stadium on Sunday fans are able to secure a free cap from sponsor 47 Brand who are giving away 60,000 free caps with the NRL and NRLGF logo on them to fans. The venue is also giving fans the chance to grab a special limited edition grand final cup inside the stadium too but no doubt these and the caps will go quickly. 

The Storm and Cowboys each have grand finals tees which fans can buy while Storm fans can go on a cruise and to get to the game which sounds like a fun idea out on the Sydney harbour. Fans also get free transport included with their ticket to the match. 

NRL fans have the chance to be picked up in a Golden Holden by booking with Uber for their ride to ANZ Stadium on Sunday while the Cowboys held an open training session and put on a grand final parade in Townsville to send the team off. 

My tip: North Queensland Cowboys by 8.

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs NRL Fan Experience Review

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Last Friday night (29-7-2016) I was able to take in the National Rugby League’s Canterbury Bulldogs game against St George Illawarra Dragons at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium and was really impressed with some of the things that the team there are doing to enhance the match day fan experience for rugby league fans.

Under the leadership of fan engagement manager Arnaleah Hunt, the Bulldogs fan experience (along with the Melbourne Storm and the Brisbane Broncos) features some of the best fan engagement activations I have seen over the course of my travels in the past three years working with audioBoom. Since 2014, I’ve visited the majority of NRL, AFL and Australian based Super Rugby club’s home fan experience set up’s and the Bulldogs, Storm, Broncos, GC Suns, GWS Giants and Port Adelaide are among the best in the business.

I met up with Arnaleah at 4pm on a chilly but sunny Sydney afternoon at Gate L where I was then led around ANZ Stadium (which now also features a variety of local craft beer options) to check out the various activations starting with the nice blue carpet that worked as a Bulldogs member’s loyalty entrance.

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

It was inspiring to hear Arnaleah’s thoughts on fan engagement as we talked about how we both agreed that activations don’t always need to be expensive as so much of creating the fan experience is down to creativity, innovation and thinking outside the box to get fans, especially the young ones excited and coming back game after game.

One idea that the Bulldogs have had in 2016 has been the creation of The Canterbury Breed which has seen the Bulldogs squad transformed into superheroes with trading cards, face masks and posters all given out to members for free on match days.

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Walking around the ground before the game to take in all of the fan engagement activities it was clear to see that the Bulldogs have gone above and beyond for fans young and old to create some memorable match day experiences.

The Bulldogs ‘Dog Box’ which sees members get the chance to watch the game from the half way line next to the coaches box in their very own fan cave was a cool idea complete with free programs, drinks and plenty of photo opportunities.

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

The Dogs also have a Kia sponsored sideline seat set up for selected members to take in the game from a closer vantage point (yes that’s a ridiculous image of me below in my fan engagement element) while the Delivery Hero sponsored buggy allows a fan the chance to take the kicking tee and match ball out at the start of the game.

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

The Bulldogs DJ takes social media requests from fans for songs on game day while the ‘Player Post’ box is a nice idea with an educational element for young kids who are able to write a letter to their favourite player and post it in the Bulldogs post box.

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

It was really impressive to also see the free game day guide that fans can pick up which includes an ‘activation map’ listing all of the fan engagement activities as well as the rules of rugby league, a profile on the club and a season draw.

The Dogs really value the importance of listening to their fans and have a suggestion box set up in the main fan zone area where fans can leave their suggestions on how to continue to improve the match day experience. I’ve seen a similar set up at Fulham at Craven Cottage with their post box so this was also impressive to see.

What was also impressive and somewhat hilarious to see was the poor bloke below who was being swamped by excited kids as he handed out free Bulldogs trading cards and then packs of trading cards to fans as they entered through the gates. Fans were also given free lollies on entry and free raffle numbers which were part of a promotion over the course of the night whereby one fan walked away with 5K and 20-30 others grabbed free prizes over the course of the game. It was a good way to promote sponsors, give prizes away to fans and get more people through the gates.

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

The Bulldogs fan experience is certainly one of the better NRL and Australian team match day’s and Bulldogs fans should be proud of the work that both Arnaleah and the team do for them to provide an exceptional day out at the football.

Bulldogs NRL

Bulldogs NRL

Club by Club: 2016 NRL Fan Engagement and Fan Experience Activations

The 2016 National Rugby League season gets underway this week and fans across Australia and New Zealand are gearing up for what will be another exciting season of rugby league action on the field.

Conversely, there is plenty going on off the field as the teams all look to find new and creative ways to engage with their members both in the stadium and online.

I have put together a quick list of what each of the NRL clubs are doing to improve the fan experience in 2016 and it’s safe to say that there’s plenty of exciting fan engagement activations taking place at whichever club you support.

Have you seen something else that your club is doing to improve the match day and digital fan experience? Hit me up and I’ll add it to the list.

NRL

The NRL Bunker is a new addition to the match day coverage that is the most state-of-the-art video referral technology in Australian sport and is set to revolutionise the game’s decision review system and provide a better viewing experience for fans.

NRL Bunker

NRL Bunker

NRL Bunker

NRL Bunker

NRL Fantasy offers fans:

  • Over $350,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs
  • Winner claims $15,000 and the official NRL Fantasy Champions ring.
  • Enjoy match day Thursday’s and new interactive polling page

NRL Fantasy Ring

NRL Fantasy Ring

Brisbane Broncos

The Bronc’s had one of Brisbane’s City Cat’s decorated in their colours.

Broncos

Broncos

The free Broncos app features:

– An iOS design theme & layout optimised for the latest iPhone & iPad devices.
– Push Notifications to keep you updated with breaking news, score alerts & match info.

As well as News – Videos – Photo Galleries – Season Draw By Month / By Round (upload every Broncos game to your device calendar) – NRL & NYC Ladders – Team & Player Stats – Broncos Twitter (team & player accounts) – Match Tickets – Broncos Website – Broncos Membership – Broncos Superstore – Community – NRL Fantasy – NRL Tipping.

Broncos App

Broncos App

Broncos App

Canterbury Bulldogs

‘The Breed’ is the new match day activation from the Bulldogs with the club revealing each of these players through fan’s Instagram accounts.
The fans favourite Bulldogs players have been turned into Superheroes, showcasing their unique skills and reflecting their strong personalities and traits. More here The Breed

Cb35JkgUsAASR_e Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 8.34.37 am Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 8.34.09 am

Canterbury fans can also pick up free posters.

Bulldogs

Bulldogs

The  Dogs of Rewards loyalty program is worth a look to see how the club rewards fans.

The dogs have the ’18th Jersey Honour Roll’ which is a giant 18 jersey that will be displayed at the northern end of all Bulldogs home games at ANZ Stadium as a permanent reminder to every one of the contribution of Bulldogs fans.

Bulldogs 18 Jersey Honour Roll

Bulldogs 18 Jersey Honour Roll

The updated Bulldogs App features:

– Match highlights
– Picture galleries from every game
– Latest news, table and fixtures
– Push notifications for breaking news and live score updates
– Player profiles

Bulldogs App

Bulldogs App

Canberra Raiders

The raiders have run a comp for fans to design the team jersey.

Canberra Raiders

Canberra Raiders

Canberra Raiders Jersey Design Comp

Canberra Raiders Jersey Design Comp

Raiders members can also get their names on the banner that the team runs through each game.

Canberra Raiders

Canberra Raiders

The Raiders app features:

  • Access to the latest Raiders news, videos and photo galleries
  • 2015 Telstra Premiership draw and fixtures presented in a round or calendar format
  • Ladder for the Telstra Premiership and NYC
  • Full squad list with player profiles
  • Push notifications to keep you updated at all times with breaking news, score alerts and match updates
  • Access to all Raiders related sites, including membership and ticketing

Raiders App

Raiders App

Fans can follow the Raiders on SnapChat too.

Raiders on SnapChat

Raiders on SnapChat

North Queensland Cowboys

The Cowboys have held a community day for fans.

NQ Cowboys

NQ Cowboys

The Cowboys have ‘Full Time: Field Time’ at the end of every home game where fans can play on the field. Full Time Field Time

The free NQ Cowboys App features:

  • A brand new design and layout optimised for all Android Smartphone (2.3+) and Tablet (4.1+) devices
  • Access to the latest team news, videos and photo galleries
  • Telstra Premiership draw and fixtures presented in a round or calendar format
  • Ladder for the Telstra Premiership and NYC
  • Full squad list with player profiles
  • Push notifications to keep you updated at all times with breaking news, score alerts and match updates
  • Integrated Twitter feeds from the official team and player accounts
  • Access to all team-related sites, including membership, Cowboys Team Shop and ticketing

Melbourne Storm

The Storm have launched their 2016 Lightning Rewards program which is the best Australian sports fan rewards program. More info here Lightning Rewards

Lightning Rewards

Lightning Rewards

Storm 'Lightning Rewards'

Storm ‘Lightning Rewards’