Thought Leadership

How Football Fans and Event Enthusiasts Helped to Design the New Mercedes-Benz Stadium Experience

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It’s summertime here in the US, but soon autumn will arrive and that means the return of football. NFL fans will flock to stadiums across the country to tailgate and cheer on their favorite athletes and teams. At the Atlanta Falcons / Arizona Cardinals preseason game on August 26, more than 71,000 fans will walk into the brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium for an exciting game day experience — one shaped by the fans themselves.

When AMB Sports & Entertainment (AMBSE) asked IBM iX to create the physical and digital experience for the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, we were honored. And what was the first thing we did? We talked to the fans. Six-weeks of design thinking sessions led us to a simple insight: football fans want engaging experiences that blur the lines between on the field, in the stadium, at home, or in a public place. We developed the new fan experience apps to meet that desire.

During our design thinking sessions, we interviewed a wide range of fans, from twenty-year season ticket holders, to those attending their very first game. We spoke with Devin, a single 35-year-old living in Midtown Atlanta who plays fantasy football and watches most games from home. We chatted with Luke, a 45-year-old married father of two, who has purchased season tickets for the past two years and knows exactly where everything in the stadium is located — from his favorite seat to his favorite hot dog vendor. Each fan we interviewed kept returning to the same points: they wanted to be closer to the game, wherever they were, and they wanted their stadium experience to extend beyond the gates.

We left the sessions with a 17-foot customer journey map which paved the way for key features in what would become three fan experience apps designed by IBM iX and delivered via the IBM Cloud. The 3 apps (Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United, Mercedes Benz Stadium) provide access to a broad range of services, including:

• Ticketing (via Ticketmaster)
• Wayfinding
• Concessions ordering
• In-suite catering
• Transportation (including the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority — MARTA)
• Parking (via ParkMobile)
• and many others…

A fan can arrive at a Falcons game and get help finding available parking close to their gate. They can then have their tickets scanned on their phone and get led to their seats. From there, they can place a pick-up order for beers and hot dogs, and receive step-by-step navigation to the concession stand. Offline impact seamlessly integrated into a digital experience.

The apps will also keep fans up to date on team news, with access to exclusive articles, inside information, videos, photo galleries, up-to-date player and team statistics, and more. The apps contextually adapt to the needs of each individual fan, further tailoring the content to focus on favorite players and other key interests. Fans at home can follow the action live with play-by-play updates, integrated, real-time highlights and timely notifications on scoring, injuries and other information.

We’re also working on bringing fans in the stadium closer to the game by increasing the WiFi density and by providing a 360-degree view of the game via a 63,000-square foot HD Halo scoreboard, plus more than 2,000 video other displays around the building.

Whether your seat is on the 50-yard line or on your couch at home, Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the IBM iX-built fan experience apps are giving the fans what they asked for: engaging experiences that blur the lines between physical and digital.

Read our iX case study.

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