Global venues and sporting organisations are continuing to ramp up their efforts to enhance the game day fan experience and acquire new fans by providing unique, innovative and creative experiences that offer a much more memorable and enjoyable game day experience than what sports fans have had to deal with in the past.
New developments are constantly being rolled out by venues whether it be from providing gourmet local food and beverage options, gender neutral toilets or way-finding to adding inclusive nursing or sensory rooms and using technology such as chat-bots and geo-fencing in an effort to provide fans with access to important messages and promotions. Make no mistake, while it’s important to remember the match in the middle comes first and foremost, every major global venue is in an arms race to get more bums on seats through providing new money can’t buy experiences.
However, a trending area in the fan experience space from venues has been to develop fun and unique social spaces that offer fans unique seating and viewing options. In recent times this has included Jacksonville’s EverBank Field and Brisbane’s The Gabba roll out impressive pool decks, Sydney’s SCG adding a beach while Yankee Stadium created the ‘Judge’s Chambers’ and GMHBA Stadium and the Geelong Cats introduced their immersive fan portal room with retractable floor overlooking the team warm-up area that allows fans to feel the intensity as the team warms up before a match.
Cricket Australia is another such organization who are pushing the boundaries in this area with their new social entertainment experience The Lawn debuting on Sunday at the MCG for the first One Day International match. The Lawn was designed to reset the perceptions of a typical day at the cricket with the space being billed as providing a tailored food and beverage menu, comfortable seating options and a stunning view of the field.
I went along on Sunday to check out the launch of the TLA Australia created The Lawn and was impressed and overwhelmed by the beautifully designed exclusive deck area and outstanding attention to detail.
The Lawn experience started with lucky fans being granted a fancy invite to a ‘summer garden party’ themed event with registration taking place outside the MCG in a marquee featuring well-presented staff. Immediately after collecting an envelope with tickets and a $10 drinks voucher there was helpful staff holding ‘This Way To The Lawn’ signs all the way to Gate 6, upon entering the stadium and then at the entrance to The Lawn at Bay 11-13 which made it very easy to find the exclusive area.
The first impression upon walking into The Lawn was that every little touch had been taken care of. The cool summer vibe décor and seating options ranged from sun beds and couches to tables and chairs while the colourful flower backdrop and astroturfed floor made the tiered deck come alive with vibrant colour and a party atmosphere overlooking the best view in the stadium.
Quality Australian wines and beers were part of the bar service while switched on staff supplied an endless array of gourmet food over the course of the day which included a delicious and diverse menu of cucumber sandwiches, sliders, beef croquettes, vegan salads and fish and chips. Each table also included a container of lollies and it was nice to see random strangers interacting with each other and making new friends while passing around these sweets over the course of the day.
Plenty of photo ops and quality seating spaces here too.
Superb presentation and attentive staff. Little touches (sunscreen/straws/shade all well thought out) pic.twitter.com/0MYZvd7J2v
— Blair Hughes (@MrBlairHughes) January 14, 2018
The Lawn also featured a roving Polaroid camera photographer, an Instagram filter, photo opportunities with a cricket big bat as well as social games for people to play like Jenga all while still watching the cricket. The little touches were evident from the funky straws, re-usable cups and free visors being handed out to the coasters, large umbrellas and hosts who were going out of their way to ensure fans were getting the most out of the experience. Furthermore, as the sun went down, blankets were even brought out for those starting to feel the cold while staff came around again with ice creams.
The Lawn was a truly memorable fan experience and spectacularly well-presented entertainment space from Cricket Australia, TLA Australia and the MCG that will no doubt continue to provide fans with a chilled and relaxed vibe to take in the cricket while also seeing brands falling over themselves to sponsor this next summer.