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Sports Stadium Sponsorship in the Digital Age

Sports Stadium SponsorshipSports Stadium sponsorship has changed dramatically over the last several years, and continues to evolve at a rapid pace. For example, sponsorship within sports venues used to consist almost exclusively of traditional signage assets: branding opportunities usually found in the concourse areas, concession stands, and other high traffic areas. Then, largely due to television, we began to see a change.

Sponsors started to covet the enormous exposure received by the areas immediately adjacent to the playing surface and, ultimately, the surface itself. That signaled the beginning of opportunities like courtside signage, branded goalpost nets, and dasherboards. And in 1973, the Rich Products Company in Buffalo, NY came up with the idea of putting their corporate name on a football stadium. With the opening of Rich Stadium, the concept of sports venue naming rights was born. Before long, in addition to the naming rights for the entire facility, properties were developing branding opportunities for destination or themed areas within their venues. And that led to corporate names specifically for the playing surfaces in addition to the building itself.

Then along came in-building video. This, along with ever improving sound systems, led to more electronic media opportunities that could either stand alone or be used to support or enhance a sponsor’s other in-venue assets. And with the advent of high-definition, each new video scoreboard and display system seemingly sets a new standard for size and resolution.

Sports Stadium Sponsorship – Gillette Stadium

Now, thanks to the digital revolution, the landscape is changing even faster. There is a whole new generation of platforms available to sponsors that allow them to become an integral part of the fans’ overall game experience.  And the fans’ expectations for the quality of that in-person experience has never been higher, simply because the home viewing experience has never been better. In fact, the home viewing experience now offers such a wide range of options, in quality and quantity, including the added benefits of mobility and personal choice in accessing content, sports venues are struggling to keep up.

That means that many innovative sports properties are re-imagining  the event experience. For example, the New England Patriots have partnered with Xirrus to install a proprietary wireless network for Gillette Stadium’s club seating areas. Club members are now able to access exclusive video content on their mobile devices including the Red Zone Channel, exclusive camera angles, a continuous replay loop, game highlights and real-time stats.

Soon fans will be able to do everything they have come to take for granted at home, and more.  From downloading custom replays and highlights, to ordering food and team merchandise from their seats. From sharing photos and comments with other fans, to the opportunity to interact with players and coaches, the in-game experience will again be truly special and unique. And along with this comes incredible new opportunities for sponsors. They will find ways to not only associate their brand with a specific facility but to engage a team’s fans in ways that transcend simple advertising and becomes a relationship that exists outside of the venue as well; exactly what sports stadium sponsorship was supposed to provide in the first place.

Have you seen other examples of how digital technology is being integrated into stadium sponsorships?  Please leave your comments below and feel free to share this article with your friends on Facebook and Twitter!

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2 Responses to Sports Stadium Sponsorship in the Digital Age

  1. MikeSikorski December 7, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    Great post Michael, Lots of very good insights.

    Sponsorship is getting better not only in giving exposure to brands but especially in measuring the effectiveness of quantifiable objectives. Measuring engagement through calculating the number of fans who watched exclusive videos, second screen sponsorship opportunities for those who watch the game on TV and play with their tablets, post event techniques which enable to reach audiences far beyond the event through social media engagement, will be putting sponsorship marketing in the center of interest of brand mangers.

    The way the sponsorship, especially in sport adopts to new, mobile and digital age is great and other industries should be taking and example out of it.

    just my 2 cents 🙂


    Mike Sikorski

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