The Ultimate FanX
Bart Miller

Sports venues are evolving to appeal to a heightened Fan Experience (FanX). Fans are no longer static observers —they are actively sampling alternate vantage points, socializing with friends, and staying connected with the outside world. For the next generation of fans, the game day experience is about energy, identity, and social connection. The challenge for designers is to offer a spectacle that cannot be matched at home; in other words, the ultimate fan experience.

Stadiums continue to get smarter. Venues are being wired for the digital world, increasingly integrating a host of emerging technologies — expansive wireless networks, sophisticated mobile apps, and advanced data analytics —into live events to create a premium, personalized experience. Ultramodern video screens feed us a constant stream of scores, in-game statistics, and instant replays that rival anything we’ll see on the ticker at home.

Stadiums are getting social. The next generation sports fan is looking for the most “share”-able, “like”-able, and “hashtag”-able experiences. Traditional suites and club spaces are being eclipsed by a new breed of social environments, such as “supporters” sections, towering sky bridges, and pool-side cabanas (just to name a few) that provide the freedom to create a truly unique fan experience.

Stadiums are more accessible. Venues are being located in urban areas, close to mass transit, anchoring neighborhoods and developments with plenty of pre-game and post-game activity. Event-specific traffic plans and efficient parking solutions are making venues more convenient than ever for fans.

Finally, stadiums are getting bolder. Advanced, lightweight materials enable soaring transparent roofs and signature canopies to provide shade from the sun and cover from the rain. Dynamic façades of illuminated fabric and shimmering metals create a distinctive, modern identity. Intimate, 360-degree seating bowls and field-level amenities bring us closer to the action than ever before. It is this desire to provide the ultimate fan experience that will continue influencing owners to opt for higher-tech stadiums, focusing on amenities as well as number of seats.

Bart Miller / P.E.
Bart is a Principal and Senior Project Manager specializing in sports engineering with Walter P Moore’s Structures group in Houston, Texas.