IN DEPTH: Tottenham Hotspur has built tech into the design of new stadium and believes HPE networking capabilities will bring first league title since 1961
When ENIC bought Tottenham Hotspur in 2001, the club was a mid-table side whose achievements were dwarfed by fierce rivals Arsenal.
Fast forward 16 years and Tottenham have become North London’s best team, competing for the Premier League title in the past two seasons and finishing ahead of Arsenal for the first time since 1994-95.
What is equally impressive is that Spurs have achieved this while balancing the books, unlike Chelsea and Manchester City who have spent billions on transfer fees and wages to transform their fortunes.
Executive Director Donna-Marie Cullen attributes this to a three-point plan implemented by the owners they took over – to improve the squad, build a state of the art training centre that will attract and retain players, and to build a bigger stadium.
It may have taken 17 years but, Tottenham’s new 61,000 arena will open in 2018, promising to be the most technologically advanced stadium in the Premier League, generating significant revenue opportunities for the club as it attempts to continue this ‘organic’ growth and win its first league championship since 1961.
“This is a game changer for the club,” said Cullen. “We want to deliver this iconic building for London and we want it to be one of the most technologically advanced in the world.”
She added that play a role every step of the way”, from purchasing a ticket to arriving at the stadium, in order to deliver the best customer experience in the Premier League.
The new stadium will have large video screens, LED signage, public Wi-Fi access, mobile point of sale (POS) systems, click and collect food and beverage, as well as analytics platforms that learn about user behaviour. For example, location data could be used to track footfall for targeted advertising.
While fans of other sport (NFL, rugby union, cricket, tennis) spend much more time at a venue. This can partly be attributed to duration – a 90 minute football match is comparitively short – but also to culture.
By learning more about fans, the hope is that Tottenham can entice them to stay longer at the new facility, spending more money on food, drink and merchandise while easing the strain on local transport services.
Vendors have been talking about this for some time, but outside the US there hasn’t been much traction. Whether this is a technology issue, or simply that American sports fans are more willing to embrace the new is up for debate but Sanjeev Katwa, head of technology at Tottenham, said Europe is trailing.
Spurs’ new stadium will host two NFL matches each year for ten years and US sporting venues have been an inspiration for the club’s technological blueprint.
“I think the takeup of wireless connectivity is really poor [in European stadiums],” he said in response to a question from Silicon. “There are only two or three that have done anything. In the US it is almost a given that any venue, whether it’s NFL, soccer or an indoor arena, has connectivity. They don’t even need to promote it.”