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Crew announce partnership with IBM to create fan-first strategy for new stadium

The new Crew stadium will be all about the fans.

Columbus Crew SC promised to be about the supporters and the community when the new ownership group took over in January. On Wednesday, the club took a major step in that direction when it announced a partnership with IBM Services to create a unique fan experience at the new downtown Crew stadium.

Following the support of the Save The Crew movement, which helped keep the Black & Gold in its home of Columbus, the Crew and IBM will work together to develop a strategy supporter experience that will benefit anyone who attends an event at the new stadium location. This partnership will help create an interactive experience for the players, coaches, staff and the supporters of the Black & Gold on game day.

“As we look ahead to our new stadium, creating and delivering the best experience possible for the Crew SC fanbase is a key objective for the Club,” Crew President and General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko said in the press release. “By collaborating with IBM, we will ensure that Crew supporters have a unique experience at every event, setting the bar for future sports and entertainment venues. We look forward to working with IBM as this investment is a continued reflection of the commitment from the Haslam and Edwards Families to make Crew SC a pace-setter for the fan experience in North American sports.”

The new Crew stadium will not be the first sporting location IBM has worked with to create unique fan experiences. IBM’s other sports clients include the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Banc of California Stadium which is home to the Los Angeles Football Club and Texas A&M’s Kyle Field. IBM has also worked in creating technology for the FIFA World Cup, as well as partnering with The Masters, Wimbeldon and the U.S. Open Tennis Championships to make these events much more exciting for viewers around the world.

“We are so pleased to be working with the Columbus Crew to help them deliver an innovative experience for their very loyal fans,” General Manager and Global Leader, IBM iX Matt Candy said in the release . “Digital technology has created an expectation among consumers for unique, personalized experiences and performance venues are under intense pressure to go beyond staging live entertainment by providing a personalized and interactive fan experience, whether a user is on their couch or at the LIVE event and our goal is to help meet those expectations.”

With this partnership, IBM iX will look to create a unique, engaging environment for each individual fan in attendance and various premium spaces at the new 430,000-square-foot facility that is scheduled to open during the 2021 Major League Soccer season. Included in this, IBM iX will provide:

  • A comprehensive fan experience strategy fueled by research and key insights - to help ensure every fan can have a best-in-class MLS experience, uniquely positioned in a way that only the Columbus Crew can deliver.
  • A future-focused technology strategy, to enable what is identified in the fan experience work, as well as ensuring that the stadium design will be future flexible.
  • Recommendations for potential technology services to position the arena as a community hub by creating an experience for all supporter groups, regardless of the event being held at the arena including at-home games, soccer friendlies, away-game watch parties, concerts, soccer state championships, or as a venue for United States National Team matches.

The Crew will use its own research, as well information obtained through focus groups and some collected through IBM iX and MLS.