‘The Lawn’ Fan Experience at the MCG, Cricket Australia Vs India, January 18 2018

Here is a recent story I wrote for Digital Sports Labs looking at the fan experience of The Lawn social space from the MCG in Melbourne. 


A trending area in the fan engagement space from sporting teams and venues has seen the emergence of unique and fun social seating experiences that have been developed to combat the competition from other leisure activities and the at-home TV experience while at the same time appeal to and acquire new audiences.

Unrivalled entertainment spaces including TIAA Bank Field’s pet park in Jacksonville, Etihad Stadium’s transparent tunnel club in Manchester and Petco Park’s beach in San Diego highlight just some of the global examples of how venues and teams are currently offering fans unique, exciting and exclusive game day experiences that can only be experienced by fans in the stadium.

The focus on these exclusive social spaces is a smart way for venues to enhance their fan experience features, offer hardcore, lapsed and new fans a chance to experience the game day in a fun new way while also enabling teams and venues to create new revenue opportunities.

‘The Lawn’ from Cricket Australia is a prime example of how one sporting organization is opening up the game to a wider audience by creating a unique fan experience that portrays a new image of cricket to people who don’t usually engage with the sport and which in turn is successfully attracting many new fans, especially young females to an event they previously may not have considered attending.

Marking it’s return to bays 11-13 at the MCG, The Lawn is a stylish and sophisticated exclusive hospitality experience from Cricket Australia that features outstanding views of the field, scrumptious local gourmet food and a vibrant social atmosphere that has all been created in an effort to attract a new audience to the cricket.

First impressions are everything with these premium spaces and it didn’t disappoint as from the moment you entered the colourful space that was adorned with fresh flowers and plants, you were made to feel welcome by the friendly hosts who guided you into The Lawn’s impressive astro-turfed deck and spectacular views of the MCG.

Created by sporting agency TLA Australia, The Lawn 2.0 included some impressive improvements on last year’s first installment with the notable addition of a circular bar that made ordering drinks faster and easier for fans while the beauty and pamper bar, photo booth stand and fashion illustration station entertained fans throughout the day with the latter proving to be a memorable keepsake for people to take home.

The food on offer at The Lawn was a delectable assortment of fresh local gourmet produce and included finger foods such as braised lamb shank pies, peking duck rice paper rolls, Katsu fried chicken burgers and mini baguettes. The culinary selections also featured gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options as well as all day fries. A notable highlight was that the food options continued coming out in an endless stream via the attentive catering staff who ensured that each fan was well catered for and well fed throughout the course of the day.

Beverage selections included local sparkling, white and red wines as well as the refreshing ‘Friesling’ which was a tropical slushy-style riesling that was exclusive to The Lawn. The choice of beers was a slight disappointment with the lack of a dedicated craft beer being a noticeable absent item. On this note, with Pirate Life and 4 Pines now both falling under the CUB brand there could surely be an opportunity to include one of these ranges at the next installment of The Lawn considering CUB has the exclusive beer pourage rights at the MCG. Drink prices were however affordable and the wide selection of drinks more than made up for any lack of craft beer.

All of the little touches were thouroughly thought through and included a card for a free welcome drink on arrival and giveaways such as exclusive Lawn branded fedora hats. Sunscreen bottles and ample shade sails also kept fans protected from the sun throughout the day while the seating options varied from comfortable cabana type sun lounges to stools and elegant couches with sufficient table space provided for fans to spread out and still enjoy a good view of the action on the field.

Diving deeper into the actual creation of The Lawn, TLA’s Tom Meredith noted that ‘it was born out of Cricket Australia’s desire to attract more females and young eventers to One Day International Cricket and was designed with social interaction and social engagement at its core.’ Tom further added that ‘It ‘s a destination for people to go to enjoy the fun of social interaction with people like them, and for them to share the experience on their social channels while the likes of the Birdcage at Flemington and the Portsea Polo were inspiration for the space too’.

The feedback from fans both at The Lawn and those following along on social at home highlighted the successful benefits of creating a stylish, relaxed and unique fan engagement space such as this being that it is a creative way to draw in new fans to the cricket as well as showing hardcore cricket fans how they can ramp up their own match day fan experience. One fan even tweeted the exact kind of response and target market Cricket Australia would be aiming for with The Lawn as Brooke noted:

Fans want new and unique experiences on game days that excite them more than what they can get from a standard game day or from the at home TV experience and The Lawn from Cricket Australia and TLA is a great example of what can be achieved by creating a space that provides an elegant and stylish space with all the little touches. While this fan experience will not suit every traditional cricket fan, The Lawn is a vibrant fan experience that provides multiple unique features that is sure to win over new cricket fans.



Cricket Australia debuts The Lawn deck fan experience

Cricket Australia debuts The Lawn deck fan experience

The following article was written for Digital Sports Labs and can be found in full here.

The Lawn was a truly memorable fan experience and spectacularly well-presented entertainment space from Cricket Australia, TLA Australia and the MCG that will no doubt continue to provide fans with a chilled and relaxed vibe to take in the cricket while also seeing brands falling over themselves to sponsor this next summer.

Global venues and sporting organisations are continuing to ramp up their efforts to enhance the game day fan experience and acquire new fans by providing unique, innovative and creative experiences that offer a much more memorable and enjoyable game day experience than what sports fans have had to deal with in the past.

New developments are constantly being rolled out by venues whether it be from providing gourmet local food and beverage options, gender neutral toilets or way-finding to adding inclusive nursing or sensory rooms and using technology such as chat-bots and geo-fencing in an effort to provide fans with access to important messages and promotions. Make no mistake, while it’s important to remember the match in the middle comes first and foremost, every major global venue is in an arms race to get more bums on seats through providing new money can’t buy experiences.

However, a trending area in the fan experience space from venues has been to develop fun and unique social spaces that offer fans unique seating and viewing options. In recent times this has included Jacksonville’s EverBank Field and Brisbane’s The Gabba roll out impressive pool decks, Sydney’s SCG adding a beach while Yankee Stadium created the ‘Judge’s Chambers’ and GMHBA Stadium and the Geelong Cats introduced their immersive fan portal room with retractable floor overlooking the team warm-up area that allows fans to feel the intensity as the team warms up before a match.

Cricket Australia is another such organization who are pushing the boundaries in this area with their new social entertainment experience The Lawn debuting on Sunday at the MCG for the first One Day International match. The Lawn was designed to reset the perceptions of a typical day at the cricket with the space being billed as providing a tailored food and beverage menu, comfortable seating options and a stunning view of the field.

I went along on Sunday to check out the launch of the TLA Australia created The Lawn and was impressed and overwhelmed by the beautifully designed exclusive deck area and outstanding attention to detail.

The Lawn experience started with lucky fans being granted a fancy invite to a ‘summer garden party’ themed event with registration taking place outside the MCG in a marquee featuring well-presented staff. Immediately after collecting an envelope with tickets and a $10 drinks voucher there was helpful staff holding ‘This Way To The Lawn’ signs all the way to Gate 6, upon entering the stadium and then at the entrance to The Lawn at Bay 11-13 which made it very easy to find the exclusive area.

This way to The Lawn

The first impression upon walking into The Lawn was that every little touch had been taken care of. The cool summer vibe décor and seating options ranged from sun beds and couches to tables and chairs while the colourful flower backdrop and astroturfed floor made the tiered deck come alive with vibrant colour and a party atmosphere overlooking the best view in the stadium.

Quality Australian wines and beers were part of the bar service while switched on staff supplied an endless array of gourmet food over the course of the day which included a delicious and diverse menu of cucumber sandwiches, sliders, beef croquettes, vegan salads and fish and chips. Each table also included a container of lollies and it was nice to see random strangers interacting with each other and making new friends while passing around these sweets over the course of the day.

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 The Lawn also featured a roving Polaroid camera photographer, an Instagram filter, photo opportunities with a cricket big bat as well as social games for people to play like Jenga all while still watching the cricket.  The little touches were evident from the funky straws, re-usable cups and free visors being handed out to the coasters, large umbrellas and hosts who were going out of their way to ensure fans were getting the most out of the experience. Furthermore, as the sun went down, blankets were even brought out for those starting to feel the cold while staff came around again with ice creams.

The Lawn was a truly memorable fan experience and spectacularly well-presented entertainment space from Cricket Australia, TLA Australia and the MCG that will no doubt continue to provide fans with a chilled and relaxed vibe to take in the cricket while also seeing brands falling over themselves to sponsor this next summer.

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