By Jared Miller
Atlanta is the ninth largest metropolitan area in the U.S., home to over 5.5 million people including 15 million residents in the counties surrounding the new Atlanta stadium – the future home of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and MLS Atlanta, currently under construction.
Building a new stadium is a massive undertaking. The physical structure itself must be sustainable, not to mention come in on time and on budget. The physical and digital infrastructure needs to be state-of-the-art not just in year one, but also five, 10, even 20 years down the road.
As the Chief Technology Officer for AMB Sports & Entertainment, one of the most important tasks I have is to ensure that the new Atlanta stadium is “future flexible.” How can we envision and build an infrastructure that can host next generation technologies that don’t necessarily exist right now? How do we make sure that our fans are immersed in the game or event day experience?
Slated to open in 2017, the stadium will be more than an iconic, LEED certified environmentally optimized structure; it will also be host to a completely reimagined fan experience. Going to a game or a concert today is about so much more than what happens on the field or on stage.
To do that, we have chosen to partner with IBM to help us envision, design and build a rich, innovative experience for everyone that walks into our new home.
The rapid growth of social, mobile, cloud, and analytics is changing how fans experience and interact during live events and also how we approach facility operations. It requires us to constantly innovate and build a technology platform that is both expandable and secure.
Think about the explosion of mobile use and data. Our guests are consuming massive amounts of video on their devices at live events. How can we enhance what they are watching and socializing on their devices, whether it’s making the experience more immersive or simply having the bandwidth to handle so much traffic? Wearable technology is also entering the picture, and it’s intriguing to think of all the different ways that could be involved in experiencing an event.
Analytics also impacts operations on all levels. For example, it’s raining outside and there is a 1 P.M. game. What’s the impact on fans traveling to the game; how do we better predict and communicate to fans customized traffic routes via their smart phones so they can utilize the quickest entrances to the stadium; and, since the inclement weather will likely dampen tailgating, make sure we’ve stocked our food concessions appropriately to handle the surge inside the stadium?
The point is to incorporate this into the foundation of the new facility so that these elements are invisible to fans; that technology is effortless and woven into the fabric of the fan experience.
We will continue to think about technology and will be tuned in to where the trends are heading, what the next innovations are going to be, and how we can employ them in Atlanta.
At the end of the day, we share the same goals as our fans; to find ways to improve the total event experience, help our team to win, and make our building feel like home.
It’s hard to know what the fan experience of 2030 will look like, but I’m confident that we will be ready and able to surprise and delight our fans with the help of IBM.