It goes without saying that how sports are going to return, especially in the college and university market, is still up in the air. Some conferences are canceling fall sports, some are doing in-conference only schedules and so on. What we do know is that college sports will return eventually. And when it does, we want to help make sure our customers are ready to handle the new experiences this is going to create for their fans.
Communicating with these fans will be more important and more challenging than ever before. Because sports will be different for each facility as they start to open up, we would like to come up with some ways that you can use existing (or new) digital displays to help get messages across to fans as they arrive on game day. Digital displays offer more flexibility than any other medium, so you are always able to customize them to match the safety guidelines that you will be putting in place.
Digital signage can help answer these questions for visitors as they arrive at your facility:
- Can you tailgate before the game?
- If so, when? Where?
- What are the rules for distancing in the tailgate area?
- Where can you park?
- What entrance can you use? Is it based on your seat?
- Where are sanitizing stations for keeping clean?
- Are there other safety messages about wearing masks or temperature scans?
- Can you get a mask at the venue?
- Where can you take your temp?
- Do people have to stay 6 feet apart?
Once they are inside the facility, they will also need to know how they can find their seat and if they are even allowed to come and go from their seat as they please. Will the clubs and suite areas be off-limits or will they be restricting the number of people allowed in them? We’ve had some conversations with customers about possibly implementing a “one-way road” type of safety measure that you may have seen in your local grocery store. This is just another example of the unique types of information that a venue will now have to communicate with everyone.
Once your facility is able to allow fans to be at the sporting event, odds are you won’t be able to be at 100% capacity, at least not right away. So, with this decrease in the number of people in the stands yelling and screaming for their team, it’s going to be more difficult than ever before to generate that buzz and excitement during the game and really create that home field/court advantage. You will have to engage whatever amount of fans that you do have in the game and get them engaged with each other in a safe new way.
We suggest you have some really engaging content on your display, whether that be trivia, social media highlights, mascot races or even looking at something like CUE Audio that we’ve talked about in a previous podcast episode. Our creative services group has also come out with an updated content catalog to make sure that the crowd prompts that you have are able to get fans up out of their seats. Even though it is out of a catalog, our customers still have to option to customize these animations to make sure they match the rest of the content they will be showing on their displays and matching their school’s look/brand.
So, now you’ve made it to the end of the game and your team won (of course). Now you have to think about how your fans are going to exit your facility while still adhering to your new safety precautions. Everyone knows that when they leave an event there can be quite a bottleneck of other fans trying to get out at the same time at the same doors. While it still seems like there is no definite solution, our customers are thinking of ways to do this. I’d like to give you a list of questions/ideas that you can run through with your communications team that you may or may not have thought of before:
- What is the exit strategy from the facility?
- Will there be ushers to ensure everyone is 6 feet apart?
- Perhaps fans can be dismissed by section (similar to how guests are dismissed at a wedding reception)?
- Are there designated dismissal times?
- How are you going to get people out without congesting walkways and exits?
- Will there be public transportation information?
- Does your city/town still have the same number of trains in operation?
- Do you have a light rail and is it open?
- Have you been using Uber pick up stations in the past? What has changed with the way they conduct their service?
- How will you direct people to these areas?
- What is the exit strategy from the parking lots and tailgating areas?
While this all may seem like a lot of work and a lot of things to consider, I’m willing to bet that you are like most people in college athletics right now and want to find a way to bring sports back while still keeping everyone safe. So, whenever and however live sporting events come back, we know getting information and connecting with your fans and audiences will help with this and be more important than ever. Let us help you design your facility communication plan.
If you have something that your facility is doing to help with opening back up and getting information to their fans, please comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know!