The changing room tunnel, the press room or the plane where the players travel. More and more LaLiga teams allow fans to share space with professionals during game day. The football party involves much more than 90 minutes of show; today is an experience where gastronomy, games and history are mixed
The Mallorcan businessman Abdel Aziz, 53, and his son Carlos, 15, lived the most special moment of the RCD Mallorca-Real Betis last November after the final whistle. They soon forgot about the defeat of the home team, which could not overcome the two goals, because they were waiting for the opportunity to meet their idols in person. “They were Tailor, Queen, Raillo, Prats… We even stopped Joaquin, from Betis. My son was very excited to take pictures with them, ”says Aziz, owner of an assisted reproduction clinic. The insistence of the teenager, who plays in the SD La Salle and dreams of professional football, ended up convincing the father, more of basketball and Real Madrid, that it was worth paying a little more for the entrance to be able to access after the game the press conference of the coaches after seeing the meeting in the reserved space at ground level where it is impossible not to breathe emotion. “You have the players two meters away, you hear the coach’s instructions. It’s impressive because you perceive all the details. ”
The Vermilion entity is a reference for teams that are striving to make football a party that goes beyond what happens in the green. The LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank fields are expanding the possibilities, both free and paid, so that fans can live more intensely on game day: from sharing the spaces previously reserved to professionals to complement their football experience with a dose of history , gastronomy and fun. A transformation that aspires to turn stadiums into true entertainment temples that allow generating more income and attracting attention to a wider audience.
In search of this objective, LaLiga has been working side by side with 2016 with G2 Strategic to “rethink the experience of attending a live sports show”. Its executive director, Marshall Glickman, has gone from presiding over the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers to becoming a sport events guru: today he advises 17 Spanish clubs, international teams such as Paris Saint-Germain and also the Euroleague of basketball and the Association of Professional Tennis Players (ATP). “There is no secret formula for success, each site must seek its strengths. The clubs will have to know how to balance tradition and openness towards new audiences: the Z generation, whole families and people from other cultures, ”explains Marshall, who breaks down the key points to reach perfection standards: a clean stadium,
Images of the ‘fan experience’ of Real Oviedo. REAL OVIEDO
“The new generations ask for less distance with the player, so we will have to change the culture so that there is less distance between the player and the fan,” says the executive director of G2 Strategic on the keys to the future in the sector and adds: ” Mallorca is perhaps the best example, but there are others such as Real Betis or Valencia CF; All teams know that they have to become other types of companies. ”
On the Mediterranean island they have opened this season the Tunnel Experience, which allows a group of between ten and twenty fans to be with the players in the locker room tunnel shortly before they jump to the pitch. “We want them to feel as if they were inside,” says Román Albarrán, Ticketing and Fan Experience director of RCD Mallorca. The entity, which has a wide range of VIP tickets from 150 euros, changed its mentality in its worst sporting moment, after the decline to Second B in 2017, and coinciding with the arrival of a new group of shareholders led by Robert Sarver, owner of the Phoenix Suns of the NBA. “They have another vision about the business and they pointed out aspects that had not been repaired before,” argues Albarrán,
The Getafe CF is another example of innovation in the field of fan experience for all audiences. Together with one of its main sponsors, Reale, it offers its fans to travel with the team in each trip. Alberto Heras, marketing director of the club azulón, details how they strengthen their alliance with Reale and provide an additional service to their followers: “We have six places for fans, so that they are one more player, part of the staff. We usually do it in matches where we stay, so they can concentrate with the summoned. ”
The two reference teams in Asturias, Sporting de Gijón and Real Oviedo, also offer experiences to reinforce their image as two of the historical clubs. The key to the success of the special tickets they offer to small groups, which include guided tours of the stadium facilities, the press room, the museum and even the lawn before the warm-up on game day, is the proximity. “There are always employees who explain in detail the history and peculiarities of the club,” explains Cristina Serrador, responsible for marketing Oviedo. “Customer opinions are very positive, there are even many people who repeat. The experience makes the club closer to its fans and shows the activity during the matches something that is very surprising ”, adds Tania Sánchez,
Cádiz CF, which also offers a tour on game day (with admission), has decided to take another step. He has created a product called “360 Experience” to include visits to the city, for its bars, for its restaurants. Any fan can buy it for 150 euros. Thus, Jaime Castellets, director of Marketing of the club, seeks to combine culture and gastronomy with the passion of his fans during the games, a historical distinctive of the Cadiz team, to turn a visit to Ramón de Carranza into an unforgettable memory. The Cádiz stadium burns every weekend: this season, the club has accumulated more than 16,000 subscribers, a record number. After all, what happens on the pitch and in the stands is the essence of Spanish football.
In addition to creating greater closeness between player and fan, clubs add other types of incentives to be increasingly attractive. Gastronomy, for example, is one of the strengths of Athletic Club. This Spanish football history has incorporated a team of seven chefs with a total of eleven Michelin stars for fans to enjoy “a wide variety of dishes that reflect the personality of Biscayan cuisine” in their different venues, such as cod fritters or some scallops with smoked bacon juice. An offer of excellence that also exploits other clubs such as FC Barcelona, which has at Camp Nou el Tapas, 24, a project designed by the Michelin star Carles Abellan.
RC Celta, after the transfer of its headquarters to the center of Vigo, installed in this new space the restaurant Silabario, led by chef Alberto González, owner of a Michelin star from 2012 to 2016. Also Real Madrid has announced for the Future signing of one of the great Spanish chefs, Martín Berasategui, to lead the new restaurant that should replace the traditional Real Café, located at gate 30 of the Santiago Bernabéu stadium.
However, not all experiences are focused on a VIP client. On a technological level, for example, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona have been pioneers in Europe when it comes to offering a basic service for any great infrastructure of the 21st century: a Wifi connection.
Many LaLiga teams are making initiatives for all audiences to improve how they live a game day both inside and outside the stadium. Valencia CF, for example, shows its hospitality with the visiting fans through different videos on its social networks in which it proposes a kind of guide for them. There he tells them what the weather will be, what things they should know about the city or where they can eat and drink before the game.
Another special case is that of Real Valladolid, which last season created the Pucela Fan Zone in the outskirts of José Zorrilla. “With that we pursue two objectives: avoid the queues that formed in the stadium and generate a sense of belonging by strengthening the values of the club,” says David Espinar, director of the Presidency Cabinet and spokesperson for the Club. In the fan zone, Valladolid fans can receive the coach of the team before the game, enjoy live music, the presence, sometimes, of Ronaldo, or take pictures with the trophy of the League Cup, historic for the club. “We usually gather about 7,000 people in a place that is far from the center, in an isolated place,” he adds.
To this point of detail and personalization has come the Blanquivioleta club, which has created an email account , firstname.lastname@example.org , where they answer all inquiries from any fan, local or visitor. They have received more than 2,000 messages and boast that they have all responded. “It is a pride to have such a direct communication with them,” says Espinar. This is also a fan experience .