Livestrong Sporting Park Creates Games Within The Game For Sports Fans

MLS club Sporting Kansas City knows not every one of its matches will be an instant classic. That doesn't mean it can't still keep fans entertained.

Just a few years ago, Asim Pasha was a top executive at a medical technology firm. Today, his office is a skybox. As the chief information officer for Sporting Kansas City, he sits amid a cluster of computer terminals watching the action unfold in Livestrong Sporting Park. But he's not looking at the field. To help fans connect in real time, Pasha has created games within the game: a series of mobile apps and social-networking options that boost team spirit—and drive more ticket and merch sales.

"It's all about making sure a fan has an enjoyable experience, regardless of what happens in the game," explains Joe Favorito, a sports-marketing consultant and professor at Columbia University. Do that and fans will keep buying hot dogs, blowout be damned. Pasha's crew is at the forefront of the philosophy. Other organizations . . . aren't. Over the past three years, Cisco has outfitted more than 30 sports complexes with tech elements similar to those found at Livestrong. So far, most teams are only using them to augment traditional moneymakers, hawking unsold seats via text discounts or offering apps with directions to the nearest concession stand.

Sporting Kansas City wants to show them the way. Last year, the club launched Sporting Innovations, a consultancy designed to help teams across sports refine their live digital and mobile experiences. (SI has several contracts pending.) This is the example it's setting at home.

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Illustration by Jason Lee

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3 Comments

  • Zach Chernes

    Unfortunately the in-stadium experience has fallen behind the at-home experience in recent times. Aside from larger video boards, stadiums (and teams and organizations) haven't really evolved to match what our technological capabilities demand. With everything we as fans have available at our fingertips, teams need to be operating under the idea that if we're not doing at least three things at once - we're probably bored.

    It's good to see Sporting KC understand that technology has a beautiful way of enhancing the in-game experience without disrupting what happens on the field. The NY Jets, Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Phillies are other teams that have been to keep pace with the newly engaged fan through similar tactics.