Chelsea Football Club has signed a two-year technology partnership with networking giant Ericsson to boost internet connectivity at the club’s Stamford Bridge ground.
The overall aim of the project is to offer fans of the club a “connected stadium” experience, with Ericsson rolling out its Small Cell as a Service (SCaS) technology throughout the football ground to achieve this.
SCaS is billed by Ericsson as a means of providing fast, reliable, high-capacity network connections in densely populated environments. It also incorporates radio access networks and carrier-grade Wi-Fi connections, which will offer visitors to Stamford Bridge access to a “seamless” connectivity experience, similar to what they get at home, claimed Arun Bansal, senior vice-president for Europe and Latin America at Ericsson.
But it won’t just be fans who feel the benefit – advertisers will too. “This connectivity will allow Chelsea to offer a marketing platform where its partners can take their offerings and services in a totally new and different way to the fans in the stadium,” he said.
From a marketing perspective, Bansal highlighted that advertisers would be able to develop a more personalised understanding of their audience, in terms of behaviour and spending habits. Bansal said this particular feature was already being used in the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.
This could be used to help the club deliver a better service, according to Chelsea Football Club’s director of marketing, Gary Twelvetree. “We could track movement through and around the stadium and therefore plan our merchandising and food and beverage offering more precisely, reducing queues and making out of stock less frequent,” he said.
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Stamford Bridge is the latest in a series of sporting venue implementations for Ericsson, which include Legia Warszawa in Poland and Parc des Princes in France.
More UK stadiums are offering a connected experience for fans. Last week, Tottenham Hotspur football club revealed the technology changes at its new White Hart Lane stadium, and now Chelsea is also delving into the field.
Twelvetree described the importance of connecting fans, whether they are at the game or not. “For us at Chelsea, a connected stadium is ultimately a connected fan – a fan connected to us, a fan connected to our partners and, really importantly, fans connected to other fans globally,” he said. “That’s hugely powerful – we’re creating a global football ground.”