Stéphanie Porchet of ATSP on the USA Fan Experience Tour

By January 04, 2016
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I have been lucky enough to participate to the first USA Fan Experience Tour with ESSMA last September with my ESSMA Corporate Member Representative hat. The program was both intense and exhaustive. Within 5 days, we were to visit seven remarkable sporting venues in both New York and Dallas and despite the hectic schedule; a handful of courageous participants I was not part of, found time to go for a run each time they could.

 

 

Coming from all over of Europe, Russia, Africa and Qatar, we all got introduced in New York for the start of the Tour, with a visit of the Yankee Stadium. For most of us, it was the first time we had been to a Ballpark. The incredible sense of space and attention to detail surprised me. ESSMA had decided to set the bar very high and impress us. We knew the trip would be fruitful and worth the long journey.

Our next move took us to the MetLife Stadium, where brand engagement has been taken to an epic level for all and every spectator. It was also my first time in a stadium designed to host American Football, and my first American Football game with the NY Jets vs PHL Eagles bill. Another new experience. We visited the Red Bull Arena on the same day. However, this stadium, a bit smaller than the first two, was designed to host soccer football, and, to that extent, was more in line with what we know in Europe and easier to seize.

  

Our last stop in New York was the extraordinary Madison Square Garden, without any doubt, the most famous venue of its kind. It is difficult to imagine a venue more urban than the Garden, built on top of one of the main underground stations in the heart of the Big Apple. One can easily imagine the thousands of challenges the designers and contractors had to deal with to reach that level of success.

After saying goodbye to those who could not keep onto Texas, we flew to our new destination.

 

 

We landed late in the evening and discovered Dallas by night. Outside temperature was still very high. Everything was quiet. In the morning, you realized supporters from Alabama and Wisconsin had arrived and many places in town had dressed with the teams’ white and red colors up. Most fans had driven all the way to attend the AdvoCare Classic game that was to play in the evening at the AT&T stadium, our next visit.

The venue was impressive from the outside. Big and bold. It looked a bit like a spaceship lost in Texas and I am yet to meet a sport architect who secretly wouldn’t have dreamt of designing it. Once more, an incredible sense of space. Seeing the stadium getting ready to host the game was a special treat for us. Everybody knew exactly what they had to do. The operation was smoothly and effectively orchestrated. Besides a great game that made me understand why people enjoy American football and drive very-long distances to support their team, service and fan experience were at the top of their game.

 

 

We had our last two visits the next day, with the American Airlines Center and the Apogee Stadium. Both venues were worth the visit and I believe many European Universities wished they had such facilities to train.

I took many pictures during the visits and hope they’ll inspire our Architects and Designers. The market, habits and customs are very different on both parts of the big pound and what is done in the US is unlikely to be applied just as such in Europe. Having said that, be sure there are a few ideas we’ll be happy to pinch and get inspiration from.

During these 5 days, we met amazing people who took time even at weekends and on a bank holiday to show us around their venues and share how they use their buildings to create their own fan experience while having several home-teams and sports to deal with. ESSMA did a great job, as usual, to make it happen. The group really got on, sharing experiences and views, leading to new friendships. Sport proved again to be a great unifying factor.

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