ALSD Spotlight 2019: The Future of Sports Venues in Focus

ALSD Spotlight 2019: The Future of Sports Venues in Focus


The more informed you are, the better chance
you’re going to have of getting it right. And we have now, through Spotlight,
this entire institutional body. I look at it like Wikipedia for trends in
business and how to be thinking about pulling together a wide variety of things. ALSD Spotlight is the association’s
annual design contest. It showcases the very best in innovative designs
and premium experiences from the recent months throughout the entire venue marketplace. We’ve added some new categories this year
to go along with the tried-and-true categories. Those generated a lot of interest and a lot
of exciting submissions, and our judges were treated to some compelling stories this year. It reminded me a little bit of Willy Wonka
and the Chocolate Factory. It’s all about exclusive access. And in those spaces that I saw in reviewing
all of the submissions, they felt exclusive. They oozed glamour or history. I’m completely impressed how everybody works
so hard to try to do the very best with all of the resources they have. And it’s sort of like when I think about
the NBA, the worst player in the NBA is a great basketball player, right? The same thing on the Spotlight judging. They’re all incredible projects. It’s an opportunity for our membership to
display their very best, and for their peers throughout the industry to observe, to study, and to get ideas to incorporate into their own venues. That’s what ALSD does. It helps with best practice sharing so that people can
share their secrets about what worked for them. You’re seeing the results of new methods and materials. You’re seeing a much deeper look into the
history, and many of the projects really honored the things that have gone before and then
tried to do it in a modern way. You’ve got to take that historical context
and the thing that ties into that brand feeling and create it in a way that also meets the
expectations of our, of our customers today. It occurred to me that perhaps the teams are
starting to lose-proof their facilities, so that it doesn’t really matter so
much if the team wins or loses. You might not remember that. The experience economy now is like hey,
get there early, buy up, purchase up, use tech, do all of these other things. Oh, and maybe there’s an event happening. But you’re going to remember that special place
that you went in the ballpark or in the arena. And it’s more than just sports –
that was very clear to me. Arenas, stadiums, theaters, minor leagues
to big leagues, college athletics. That continues to be a really exciting category,
just a beehive of activity. So it really encompassed the entire venue
marketplace, and that includes ALSD International. I’m sure I’m leaving some categories out,
but the bottom line is ALSD Spotlight really is an all-encompassing global experience. Wrigley Field. They did such an exquisite job of tying those
clubs to their brand and making it feel like it was embracing their history. Golden One Center did a fantastic job. Really unique spaces. SunTrust Park’s Delta Club, tying in the flying theme
even down to the tiles that replicated flight wings. Churchill Downs, being so different, had such
a neat look and feel and embraced history, but it was so high-end. Fiserv Forum was a huge standout to me. I thought every bit of it was remarkable. State Farm Arena – super unique, very trendy,
you wouldn’t know you’re in a ballpark or arena. It’s like you’re going out on the town,
and that was a big theme. Now although it is a friendly contest,
ALSD Spotlight is a contest nonetheless, so we will be awarding 12 winning categories. Those range from audiovisual, food and beverage,
other technology inclusions, and, of course, suites, club spaces, all the way up
to overall building architecture. Because I had done some work at Villanova,
and I saw what they started with, my first instinct was to punt and say
you should build a new building. But when I saw what the result of the
[Finneran] Pavilion project, I thought, ‘Holy Toledo’. I can’t even imagine the amount of work
that had to go into taking something that looked the way it did, turning it into something
that when you go in there, you can’t imagine that it’s the same place. It’s just completely, completely different. When I think about Wrigley Field’s Maker’s Mark
Barrel Room, it just gives me a warm feeling, and not just from drinking the Maker’s Mark. It really embraces that brand, and it integrates
so well with the Cubs brand itself. It was beautiful. It was rich. It felt historic. Whenever you’re monkeying around
with a historic icon like a Wrigley Field, you’ve got to be pretty careful about what you’re
doing and making sure that you’re not going to get out of sync with the history and the expectations. When we start making a list of all of the people
who have an opinion about what you’re doing, the idea that you can survive a project that
is as effective as I believe that one was, it’s a testimony to the vision of
the team and their design team. That project in particular really
took another page forward. Your luxury suite holders, and I know this
firsthand, are your ambassadors to your brand and your facility because
they pay it forward so often. There is definitely a domino effect of goodwill. It’s also fraught with complexity
because they’re hard to impress. So what do you do that’s new, that’s different,
that’s impactful that can help further that relationship. So I loved seeing the ideas that were brought
forth on how to entertain these people and engage them and show them that you care. At Little Caesars Arena, they had the vinyl gift. It was from Open Me When, and
I just think that’s a standout gift. When you first look at it, you’re not sure what it is. You open it up, and it’s a vinyl record
player, so that harkens back to the history of Detroit, its soul music and all of that. There’s something to be learned from that. What is it in your community? What is it in your building? What is it with your franchise where you can honor
the past, meet the expectations of the people today, and actually provide something that is
going to service your customers and your brand expectations in the future? We’re not as into award programming
as some others in the sports business, so that really exemplifies that these
awards really mean something. There aren’t a million awards going on here
at the conference, so it feels important, yet collaborative, because you’re
sharing it with your colleagues. It’s never just one person behind that award. It is really the culmination of so
many people’s work together. We do have the Visionary Award, but other than that,
the Spotlight awards are really it for us, and that’s by design. That’s true to our mission. We’re really talking about the best of the best,
and we’re looking for those small distinctions. That’s something for ALSD and all
of our membership to be proud of. The thing that makes Spotlight different is
how difficult it is to judge, how prepared as judges you expect us to be, and because of that,
I think we probably get to a better answer. The Spotlight awards ring true because they allow
for industry folks to put forward their best work. It’s very authentic, very much an industry
coming together to raise a glass for people that have gone above and beyond and shine
a light on what’s going on in the industry and showing what the trends are. The more informed you are, the better chance
you’re going to have of getting it right. And we have now, through Spotlight,
this entire institutional body. I look at it like Wikipedia for trends in
business and how to be thinking about pulling together a wide variety of things. Look, we’re hopeful that our membership will review
these, study them, pass them around the office, and really use them as templates to build upon,
and come up with that next great idea. We’re hopeful that their projects will become
the future entries into ALSD Spotlight.

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