Emerging Tech, Data & Media , Future Stadiums & Venues

Columbus Crew and IBM to boost new stadium fan experience

Technology giant adds North American soccer franchise to growing US sports portfolio.

by Steven Impey

Columbus Crew and IBM to boost new stadium fan experience

Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Columbus Crew have enlisted US technology giant IBM to lay down a roadmap to lead the fan experience during the development of the franchise’s new 20,000-seater stadium.

A new agreement with IBM Services and IBM iX, the company’s creative business strategy division, will enable new technologies at the Ohio-based outfit’s new home, which is scheduled for completion in time for the start of the 2021 MLS season.

Under the terms of the partnership, IBM will use data insights to provide a comprehensive fan-experience strategy, and also work to ensure that the stadium’s design will be ‘future flexible’.

The company will also consult Columbus Crew on unique technology services to position the arena as a community hub for an array of events beyond MLS matches, including US Soccer national team fixtures and concerts.

Tim Bezbatchenko, Columbus Crew president and general manager, said: “As we look ahead to our new stadium, creating and delivering the best experience possible for the Crew SC fanbase is a key objective for the club.

“By collaborating with IBM, we will ensure that Crew supporters have a unique experience at every event, setting the bar for future sports and entertainment venues.

“We look forward to working with IBM as this investment is a continued reflection of the commitment from the Haslam and Edwards Families to make Crew SC a pace-setter for the fan experience in North American sports.”

Columbus Crew join a roster of IBM’s sports clients, which also includes the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the National Football League’s (NFL) Atlanta Falcons and MLS side Atlanta United, as well as the Banc of California Stadium, home to another MLS outfit, Los Angeles Football Club.

Matt Candy, general manager and global leader for IBM iX, said: “Digital technology has created an expectation among consumers for unique, personalised experiences.

“Performance venues are under intense pressure to go beyond staging live entertainment by providing a personalized and interactive fan experience, whether a user is on their couch or at the LIVE event and our goal is to help meet those expectations.”