Athletic Business has published a new article from Mike Cornoni and Chad Barrington in our sports practice focused on “Three Ways Midsize Collegiate Sports Venues are Evolving.” The article points out that “while large venues at the Division I collegiate programs often secure the most press and recognition, smaller venues and mid-level colleges are changing just as rapidly. Driven by some of the same realities (new technology, evolving spectator expectations, etc.) smaller venues face their own unique challenges and opportunities. Often, for these institutions, new collegiate athletic venues are pivotal to campus growth, recruitment, the expansion of athletics programs and/or community integration.”
The full Athletic Business article is available online. Here’s an excerpt:
Offering premier amenities on a smaller scale
With more real estate and deeper budgets, large athletics programs have often found it easier to offer fans leading-edge premium club experiences. However, new mid-sized arenas or stadiums are beginning to catch-up and find interesting ways to scale these offerings.
Virginia Tech’s new English Field at Union Park now offers dedicated premium seating on terraces along the first baseline. In addition to premium menu options, table service and great sightlines, these spaces also allow fans access to a hospitality space at the press level during a game. The hospitality space is adjacent to four suites that offer both outside and interior seating options. Unique to these suites is the ability to open them all up to create one super-suite for increased fan interaction. The premium areas allow fans the flexibility to choose how they want to experience Hokie games. The stadium also offers traditional seating, grass terraces and other informal viewing areas suitable for both the campus and local Blacksburg community. Virginia Tech’s ability to infuse premium offerings as part of a wide array of fan experience stands out given the venue’s capacity (1,232 fixed seats with space for 3,000+).
“(It’s a) big-time improvement — it looks more like a minor league field,” one fan told the Roanoke Times in a recent piece about the ballpark’s opening.
Bigger is not universally better. Virginia Tech is helping to lead the charge in creating a personal and flexible experience for their fan base that rivals nearly any larger venue.