Power to the fans! ASU, UA focused on ‘fan experience’

If you’re a Pac-12 fan living in Arizona, prepare to be spoiled.  The current buzz words at both schools seems to be “fan experience.”

“My main focus is to promote the teams and create an environment for the fans where they will continue to support our events,” said Matt George, the director of video and information technology at the University of Arizona.

The Wildcats just invested in a revamped control room that includes two slow-motion replay systems to give fans a second look at some of the best scoring experiences in the major sports.  It will be used for football, basketball, volleyball and gymnastics home games.

The new state-of-the-art systems have eight channels of live replay on each unit.  “We can throw together a quick player highlight package after a scoring spurt to keep the crowd juiced during breaks,” George points out.

This latest addition to the UofA marketing efforts comes on the heels of a $85.7 million renovation of the football stadium, which will increase the number of seats and provide a luxury loge area for even greater fan comfort and an enhanced viewing experience.

And don’t forget the impressive new baseball stadium.  The Cats just moved into Hi Corbett Field, a city-owned 8,665-seat facility that has been used for Major League spring training and minor-league games.  It has been renovated to provide fans a more enjoyable outing, offering ample parking and open concourse space that includes shaded patio areas, increased concession amenities, and upgraded restroom facilities.

It’s still over 100 degrees when the team plays, but better goodies at the snack bar and bigger potties help.

Meanwhile, over in Tempe, the Sun Devils have taken this whole ‘fan experience’ thing to another level.  They hired Micky Mouse to help them get it right.

A recent Arizona Republic article noted that Arizona State has worked out an arrangement with the Disney Institute to help train staff and managers on upgrading the entertainment culture within the athletic department, and set up a training program for hundreds of game-day employees.

Improving the game-day experience at ASU has moved to the top of the priority list following the installation of a new athletic director and head football coach.  Both want to see more fannies in the seats.

Todd Graham will be stepping onto the football field at ASU for the first time next month, and he wants everybody in Sun Devil Stadium to be having at least as much fun as he is having.

He already has a new image for his football program that includes a new logo and Nike-designed uniforms, and a new renovation project underway at Sun Devil Stadium that could end up costing as much as $300 million.

But there are other, less expensive plans to punch up the interest in game days, from the traditional pre-game walk into the stadium to the music that will be played during the game.  Evidently, the rockin’ strains of “Wild Thing” are being considered for kick-offs and “Hells Bells”, from the rock group AC/DC, will blare out to help the Devils defend against third-down attempts.

There’s more with the fans in mind… cool, comfy grassy areas are being created in the desert arboretum inside Sun Devil Club Plaza and, before select games, the fans may even get to pick which uniform combination the team should wear.

Most would agree that this renewed emphasis on the fan experience is most welcome.  However, the ultimate fan experience will continue to be winning games.

But, in the meantime, this is a good start.

Power to the fans!

(Photo: Arizona Athletics)