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:
These match day fan experience enhancements may even lure a long-term cricket objector like me to the ground! Loving the posts @MrBlairHughes https://t.co/2Tt3pCipa9
— Brooke (@Brookster81) January 18, 2019
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.