The stadium landscape in Asia is undergoing a significant transformation with the proliferation of new and upcoming stadiums that showcase cutting-edge technologies and innovative design concepts.
In AST’s latest deepdive, we will explore major new stadiums and projects across Asia, delve into ownership models and new technologies, examine notable case studies, and discuss the future of fan experiences.
More projects for a huge population
Asia is witnessing a wave of stadium construction, each contributing to economic growth, tourism, and sports development in their respective countries. These projects not only boast of impressive seating capacities but also feature innovative design concepts and architectural marvels that capture the attention of sports enthusiasts worldwide.
Saudi Arabia announces Riyadh Stadium, Qiddiya Stadium and Dammam Stadium. Source: ArabianBusiness 2023.
Notable projects include the Hangzhou International Sports Centre in China(Capacity: 60k Main + 19k Indoor), Anil Agarwal International Cricket Stadium in Jaipur (Capacity 70k), Sheikh Hasina International Cricket Stadium in Bangladesh(Capacity: 70k), Rafi Cricket Stadium in Pakistan (Capacity: 50k), Kai Tak Sports Park in Hong Kong SAR(Capacity: 50k), and the new Riyadh, Qiddiya, and Dammam Stadiums, alongwith the renovation of four others in preparation for hosting the 2027 AFC Asian Cup in Saudi Arabia.
An evolution in ownership and integration
The ownership model of stadiums is evolving in Asia. Traditionally, many stadiums in Asia were owned and operated by governments, with the primary goal of hosting major sporting events and promoting national pride. However, there has been a noticeable shift towards diversified ownership models involving both public and private entities.
This shift has led to the integration of new technologies in stadiums to enhance the overall fan experience. As experienced through the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have enabled immersive engagements to a vast audience, while interactive technologies, such as data utilization, apps, beacons, and social media integration, are improving operations, player performance, and fan experiences.
In July 2023, we all saw The Sphere in Las Vegas capture the world’s imagination as it transformed into a gigantic Basketball to announce the NBA Summer League. With a construction cost of US$2.3 billion, this remarkable structure’s exterior is adorned with an astonishing 1.2 million hockey puck-sized LEDs, capable of displaying dynamic imagery on an immense scale; opening up new avenues for stadiums and arenas to engage their communities with dynamic and immersive communities.
The Kai Tak Sports Park in Hong Kong is a groundbreaking project set to become the city’s largest sports park upon completion. With its state-of-the-art facilities, including a Main Stadium, an Indoor Sports Centre, and a Public Sports Ground, the park aims to promote “Sports for All” in the community, support elite athletes, and establish Hong Kong as a hub for major international sports events. The project’s potential impact extends beyond sports, as it fosters civic pride and promotes positive social interaction through sports and leisure.
Let’s explore some key objectives for any stadium organisation keen on making sure that fans keep coming back:
- Cultivating Personal Connection with the Team:
Nurturing a deep personal connection between fans and their beloved teams is crucial. By fostering a sense of belonging and loyalty, stadiums can create an environment where fans truly feel like an integral part of the team’s journey. This personal identification enhances the emotional bond and strengthens the overall fan experience.
- Curating Unique Stadium Experiences:
Modern stadiums have the power to offer experiences that are exclusive to their premises. From behind-the-scenes tours to interactive exhibits, these unique experiences captivate fans and create lasting memories. By continuously innovating and creating distinctive opportunities, stadiums can set themselves apart and leave a lasting impression on fans.
- Matching Experiences to Personal Interests:
Understanding the diverse interests of fans is key to delivering personalized experiences. Modern stadiums should strive to cater to the varied preferences of their audience, providing tailored offerings that align with individual tastes. By offering a range of options that resonate with fans’ personal interests, stadiums can ensure that every visit is a fulfilling and satisfying experience.
- Comprehensive Live Entertainment Options:
Recognizing that fans seek more than just the game itself, modern stadiums have evolved into entertainment hubs. They provide live entertainment options before, during, and after the match. Pre-game festivities, halftime performances, and post-game celebrations contribute to a vibrant atmosphere, enriching the overall entertainment experience for fans.
- Fostering a Community of Like-Minded Fans:
The opportunity to sit alongside fans who share similar interests enhances the sense of community within a stadium. By facilitating connections between like-minded individuals, stadiums create an environment where fans can connect and form bonds over their shared passion for the team. This shared experience strengthens the sense of belonging and camaraderie among fans.
Governments are kingmakers for stadiums in Asia
Government investment in stadium infrastructure plays a pivotal role in Asia’s sports landscape. The Beijing National Stadium in China, the Narendra Modi Stadium in India, the Singapore Sports Hub, the Yokohama International Stadium in Japan, and the Incheon Asiad Main Stadium in South Korea are prime examples of successful government-funded projects.
These stadiums not only host their respective nation’s biggest sports events, but they also stimulate local economies, promote tourism, and contribute substantially to sports development.
The National Stadium in Beijing, also known as the Bird’s Nest, is a 91,000-capacity engineering marvel, boasting of the world’s largest steel structure. Source: China highlights.
In Singapore, the government has reclaimed operations of the Singapore Sports Hub, marking a significant shift in sports development. Exploring the motivations behind this move and its implications, we find potential benefits such as enhanced control over stadium content, operations, increased opportunities for grass roots community engagement, and streamlined long-term planning. However, challenges related to financial sustainability and balancing public interests must also be addressed.
New opportunities for new fans
The rise of esports and it’s tech-first audiences are bound to have a profound impact on stadium design and fan engagement. Stadiums like LOL Park in Seoul, South Korea, have successfully implemented cutting-edge technologies, becoming pioneers in the field. At the recently concluded Hangzhou Asian Games, the esports medal competitions commanded the highest ticket prices.
Traditional stadiums are now integrating esports facilities, capitalizing on the growing popularity of competitive gaming. According to a Deloitte report, it’s important to think through three layers: Experience, Technology & Infrastructure. As stadiums evolve to cater to the interests of a new generation of fans, the convergence of sports and esports is reshaping the industry.
To develop a deeper and more holistic relationship with fans, stadiums are implementing strategies such as loyalty programs, personalized experiences, and fan community platforms. For example, Marvel Stadium in Australia ran live trivia competitions for fans to take part in to prove their fandom and win free food from in-stadium vendors These initiatives enhance the in-stadium experience, increase fan engagement, and extend the lifetime value of fans.
As the landscape of modern stadiums continues to evolve, it becomes increasingly evident that re-imagining these venues as technology and business platforms holds significant implications for the sports and entertainment industry. Stadiums have become more than mere physical structures; they have transformed into interconnected ecosystems where fans and partners converge.
This hyper-connectivity presents a wealth of opportunities for creating new transactions, fostering the growth of innovative businesses, and unlocking previously untapped revenue streams.
What the future holds..
The integration of technology as a fundamental aspect of modern stadiums has far-reaching implications. It enables personalized and immersive fan experiences, facilitates data-driven decision-making for stadium management, and opens avenues for strategic partnerships and collaborations.
By transforming stadiums into dynamic platforms, the sports and entertainment industry can tap into the full potential of emerging technologies, revolutionizing the way fans engage with their favorite teams and creating new business opportunities.
At Asia Sports Tech, it is our mission to guide and assist sports organizations in navigating this transformative landscape. By staying ahead of the curve, exploring technologies, and fostering strategic partnerships, we can help our clients leverage modern stadiums as powerful platforms that shape the future of sports and entertainment.
In our effort to stay ahead in the ever-evolving world of stadium business, AST is partnering with TheStadiumBusiness Asia conference taking place in Hong Kong next week. Reach out to us today to find out how you can attend. Together, let us seize the opportunities presented by this new era and continue to redefine the fan experience for generations to come.