We have all had that moment when an Instagram post or a Snapchat story of our friend makes us feel like we are not quite as cool or included as we should be. FoMO, or the Fear of Missing Out, refers to the feeling of “fear of not being included in something (such as an interesting or enjoyable activity) that others are experiencing.” It was added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary in 2016. Following this current trend, millennials and people in general prefer to spend money on experiences instead of goods, and this new emphasis on experiences is changing the role of the modern-day arena.
Peripheral activity begins with the arrival of the patron and the activities available on site prior to and during the event. Active plazas and indoor/outdoor spaces have become very popular for event centers. The ability to see activities on the inside from the outside through walls of glass provides exposure for the venue and contributes to the FoMO phenomenon. Transparency and an active arena site can present security concerns that have become the reality of public spaces. The activation of the spaces surrounding the building requires the ability to expand the security perimeter of the building through a variety of measures including metal detectors, temporary barriers, bollard systems, and physical security personnel. While these measures continually increase in the US, in other countries, this has been a standard practice for years. For the Ulker Arena in Istanbul the adjacent plaza and parking lot is surrounded by bollards that must be raised and lowered by security personnel. Each car entering the property is stopped and under carriage mirror searched before they can enter the property. The key is to create a balance between security and experience, and maintain the safety of every patron.
Once inside the building, the variety of activities and opportunities a modern venue offers can be overwhelming, but a well-positioned venue provides something for everyone. The typical patron today is moving quickly, uncompromising in their interests, and seeks to be entertained. Rare are the events where every patron is in their seat, watching every shot, foul, save or listening to every note. A family of four, or a group of different individuals, may attend an event and find their individual level of entertainment.
For example, The Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota is undergoing a major renovation that will rejuvenate the building and dramatically enhance the fan experience; for all fans. Visitors at all price levels will benefit from new and upgraded amenities, including many premium seating opportunities, food and beverage options, and additional gathering spaces throughout the arena.
Chairman’s Suites at the Target Center include a private suite with a balcony and access to the Chairman’s Club. The club provides an elite dining experience with a complimentary, communal bar that overlooks center court.
Theater Boxes at the Target Center provide opportunity for those looking to entertain smaller groups with the amenities of an all-inclusive club seating experience and a sideline premium level location. Other theater box amenities include a seated dining area behind the drink rails that can be used prior to the event and flexible seating for a variety of social configurations.
Fixed bar and portable food carts are also included on the same level creating a different level of social experience, for those who do not want to pay a premium. At the premium level, culinary offerings in the modern venue is also a focus of the overall fan experience. Gone are the dried-out pretzels, soggy French fries, and over cooked hot dogs. Many modern venues have consulting or full time chefs who ensure the quality of the food matches the expectations of the premium seating patron.
Ultimately, every fan, from the die-hard who does not want to miss a single minute of the action to the experience seeker whose primary goal is to socialize and be a part of the action can find their ideal place within the venue.
In addition to a variety of seating price points, many arenas are creating a variety of “zones” scattered throughout a venue. A family with young children might arrive at an event early and participate in activities set up on the concourse. At the University of Michigan Crisler Arena, activities like how ”high is your vertical jump” or getting a “green screen” shot that puts you in a photo with a player engages young kids and serves a variety of purposes. The activities turn the youngsters into early fans who build memories of going to games and want to continue that tradition as adults. It also encourages people to get to the game early, which distributes the influx of patrons, making the arrival experience better for all. Finally, those who arrive early are generally in the building for a longer period, increasing the individual expenditure while at an event.
Other “zones” like hall-of-fame, or customized merchandise, which are more adult focused, can serve the same purpose in distributing arrival times and creating revenue streams for the venue.
Diversification within venues is sometimes taken even further in combining arenas with commercial uses on the same site. At the SM Bay arena in Manilla the arena is part of a large complex that includes a public shopping mall an outdoor entertainment/amusement mall, and two parking garages all interconnected. A patron can arrive on site hours before an event and be entertained. At the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania, convenience is a focus on the urban site. A fan staying at the Renaissance Hotel can exit the hotel lobby directly into the arena concourse, never having to step outside. There is also the option of dining at the street level restaurant and entering the arena concourse directly from the restaurant.
The T-Mobile arena in Las Vegas takes combining experiences to a new level with the Hyde Lounge. Located at the upper back of the arena bowl, the lounge combines the experience of a Vegas night club with that of an arena event. The 18,000 square foot space features club amenities such as bottle service, high energy DJs and plush banquettes but also provides the patron views of the arena bowl on one side and the Vegas Strip on the other.
The bottom line is that the role of the modern-day arena is not as clearly defined as it once was. Safety and security continues to be of utmost concern, and venues are continually evolving and altering their measures to ensure patron safety. The desires of the typical event attendee have also evolved in that there is no longer a “typical attendee”. Each fan is seeking an individual experience, with an individual price tag and today the most successful current facilities can satisfy everyone.
To learn more consider attending one of the following to sessions during VenueConnect in Nashville:
What’s New or Innovative in Facility Operation and Design, Tuesday, 9:00 AM – 9:45 AM.
Article by Sink Combs Dethlefs, Sports Architecture. Sink Combs Dethlefs is recognized internationally as experts in public assembly facility design. The firm has successfully completed design for more than 55 arenas and is headquartered in Denver, Colorado.