New sports venues are constantly under construction, and there’s a growing competition to make each one more high-tech than the last.

It seems like every year another stadium opens and touts itself as having the world’s largest video screen, but now that’s not even enough to drive sports fans to the game or keep them coming back.

Fans are jaded by the in-stadium experience and prefer to watch instead from the comfort of their homes – on multiple screens, with easy access to instant replays and no lines for food and restrooms. Smart stadiums are becoming critical to moving fans off of the couch and into the seats.  

Let’s take a look at the Docklands Stadium in Melbourne, Australia, for example.

The stadium will now have “smart seats” which allow fans to view scoreboard feeds and live broadcasts from personal screens that are attached to the back of each seat.

Or what about The Atlanta Braves’ new SunTrust Park?

The stadium will be equipped with 100 gigabit-per-second ethernet lines and 700 wi-fi access points so fans can easily and quickly stream content and post on social media.

With this new technology and increased smartphone usage comes unprecedented access to fan data which can be used for both the benefit of the team and the fan. For example, facilities teams can track smartphone usage to create heatmaps of the venue. They can improve flow by strategically placing the locations of concessions, restrooms and sponsor-branded activation and increase security by deploying more staff to high-traffic areas. The same technology can be used to update fans on the shortest concession or restroom lines or the fastest exit out of the stadium or parking lot.

Teams can also make use of wifi and mobile apps within the venue. Using social authentication or a simple sign-on form, teams can gather data on the fans who are logging into wifi or the team’s mobile app within the stadium. Not only can they use this data to compare ticket buyers to actual game attendees, but they can deliver customized content, personalized merchandise and concessions offers and sponsor-branded promotions to targeted groups of fans.  Fans can use their smartphones to order food and beverages directly from their phone and have it delivered right to their seat.  

Until virtual stadiums become the new normal, teams can build smart stadiums use data to engage fans with seamless, personalized experiences that move people out of their living rooms and into the stadium thus driving additional revenue through ticket sales, concession and merchandise purchases.