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Wembley and EE transform iconic arch to mark new wave of stadium technology

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Wembley National Stadium Ltd. (WNSL) and EE has transformed the London skyline by installing the fastest interactive LED lighting system in the world on the arch as part of Wembley Stadium connected by EE’s ground-breaking six year partnership deal.

  • The LED lighting system  will react to event moments such as goals scored and crowd noise as well as social media sentiment
  • Arch light display will be viewable through live in-app Arch Cam as part of a series of updates to the official Wembley app launching 9 October
  • Wembley and EE reveal contactless ambition with payment and ticketing plans for less queues and more convenience
  • EE commits to installing world’s fastest commercial mobile data network in stadium by 2015, and quadruples capacity for phone calls, texts, social media updates and fan selfies

The advanced arch lighting system marks a new wave of technology innovations at the stadium – stage one of EE’s commitment to transform Wembley into the most connected stadium in the world. From early 2015, the iconic arch will act as the digital heartbeat of stadium events as fans will be able to control the light show with social media sentiment. The LED lights will also react to significant moments such as goals scored and crowd noise. The specialist lighting system is comprised of 228 large-scale LED floodlights which can create millions of colour combinations – including EE’s signature aqua tone – and when placed end to end stretch the length of five Olympic-size swimming pools.

The arch will be able to be viewed through the official Wembley app via the new live arch cam function, which forms part of a series of updates going live on October 9 – in time for England’s Euro qualifier against San Marino. Further updates include ‘Event Day’ mode, offering stadium visitors a dynamic news feed with aggregated social media content and a free event-day playlist, which will feature 150 tracks to help fans get in the mood to support their favourite team or act performing at Wembley. For those using the app at the stadium – new features offer fans a chance to win a seat upgrade for free and message the big screen direct from their smartphones.

Roger Maslin, Managing Director at Wembley National Stadium Ltd, said:

Technology is changing the way that people enjoy the events at Wembley Stadium – how they get here, how they get in, how they buy drinks and snacks, and how they share their experiences with friends and family. Wembley and EE have a shared ambition to use technology to make this stadium the best fan experience anywhere in the world – that’s about being the most connected stadium, and integrating mobile into everything people do here.

 Ahead of a busy autumn schedule with three NFL matches, vital England qualifiers and the first England Women’s Senior match at Wembley Stadium in November, we’re working to continue to create inspiring memories for every sport and music fan.

Spencer McHugh, Director of Brand at EE said:

Switching on the new connected arch marks an exciting moment in our technology roll out, with fantastic new app features launching in October, contactless technology to change the way people queue and pay, and so much 3G and 4G capacity that uploading selfies and downloading replays are possible for everyone. The Wembley experience has advanced so much in the last seven months, and it’s just going to keep getting better and better.

Contactless Wembley

To keep technology at the forefront of the fan experience, and change the way people queue and pay, Wembley and EE are trialling contactless payments and ticketing in the stadium this year. Terminals are being installed in the stadium to support card payments, and mobile payments from EE’s Cash on Tap and other major device payment services. EE and Wembley have an ambition for over 50% of all payments in the stadium to be contactless by 2017.

Mobile network innovations

Since the partnership announcement in February, EE has commenced a vast network upgrade programme at the stadium to ensure that every visitor through the gates can stay connected. 3G and 4G capacity has already increased as part of EE’s commitment to provide consistently fast speeds, even on event days. More capacity means more people can connect, and upload more to social media and download or stream from sports channels. It also means phone calls and texts are more reliable, so you can keep in touch with friends and arrange where to meet.

In 2015, EE will continue to invest in superfast WiFi and enabling a 4G service that all the other UK operators can join – making sure every smartphone can get a great connection. EE will also launch the 300Mbps ‘LTE-Advanced’ network in Wembley next year, and trial speeds of up to 400Mbps, making Wembley the world’s fastest stadium.

Fotis Karonis, CTO at EE, said:

Since we announced this historic partnership six months ago, customers using the network at Wembley have already uploaded the equivalent of 850,000 selfies, and streamed 400,000 goal replays. We’ve added enough capacity to connect every visitor that walks through the gates, and we’re continuing to invest – more 3G, more 4G, Superfast WiFi and the capability to launch a multi-operator 4G service, supporting all the networks, means everyone with a smartphone can be connected at Wembley.

This partnership has a very clear vision – we want Wembley to be the world’s best connected stadium, showing off new technologies first and giving two million visitors a year the best possible Wembley experience.


Wembley Stadium connected by EE was transformed into a spectacular light show  to mark the start of the venue's high-tech makeover.

Wembley Stadium connected by EE was transformed into a spectacular light show to mark the start of the venue’s high-tech makeover.

Man Utd dominate new sponsorship trend to localise partnership deals

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Man Utd dominate new sponsorship trend to localised partnerships

Repucom’s latest European Football Club Income Stream Report shows Manchester United are leading the way in capitalising on new localised sponsorship deals, generating over 350% more income via this new strategy than the next biggest earner, FC Barcelona.

The report examines a selection of 20 of the biggest revenue generating clubs in Europe, whose combined cumulated income totals approximately €5bn*. Alongside the traditional match day, broadcasting, licensing and retail revenues these clubs continue to produce, there is a growing trend towards capitalising on localised sponsorship strategies.

The jump in income generated through this approach, where a club sells its commercial rights locally within a specific market instead of globally and exclusively, is now producing significant returns. It is a strategy Manchester United were one of the first to adopt (that being the 2008 deal with Diageo’s Smirnoff vodka brand as their ‘responsible drinking partner in Asia-Pacific’), and are executing better than any other team.

During the 2013/14 season, 84 localised sponsorship deals accounted for over €54m in income for European clubs. Over 59% of that revenue was generated by Manchester United alone, totaling approximately €32m through 38 deals.

Other clubs in Europe to take advantage of this approach last season were Chelsea FC (13 deals), FC Barcelona (11 deals), Arsenal FC (eight deals), and Manchester City FC (six deals).

It is however a strategy growing in popularity.

Andrew Walsh, Repucom’s football expert, said:

Whilst broadcast rights remain the biggest income stream for clubs in Europe, commercial activities are the second largest contributor, accounting for 29% of all revenues made. Identifying new ways to increase the value of these deals is incredibly important.

In the 2012/13 season, Man Utd signed 13 regional sponsorship deals, adding over ten more the following season. Ahead of the 2014/15 season, new and lucrative deals were also signed by FC Barcelona’s with Tecate, as their official beer in Mexico, Liverpool FC with ComeOn!, their official betting partner in Scandinavia and Manchester City FC with Saigon Hanoi Commercial Joint Stock Bank as the club’s official debit card partner in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. According to Andrew Walsh, these agreements show that this new strategy is continuing at pace:

The approach to segment and localise commercial assets is something we are seeing more and more of in football as clubs look to both generate additional income and make increasingly engaging partnerships, tailored to that specific market.

It’s an important strategy for clubs of all sports to take note of, especially as their global profiles rise. Understanding local market forces is vital in realising the most valuable partnerships available to them in order to utilise a commercial strategy which is only just beginning to be tapped in to.

Ajax, Amsterdam ArenA and Huawei announce partnership

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Dutch football club Ajax and Amsterdam ArenA have signed a partnership with Huawei, the leading global ICT solutions provider. Parties announced the agreements at the Amsterdam ArenA earlier this week. Under the agreement, Huawei becomes official partner of Ajax and business partner of Amsterdam ArenA, which is the home to football club Ajax.


Technology agreement: In the 5 year technology agreement, Huawei, which is a market leader in the field of wireless technology, will create the largest open-access wireless LAN infrastructure in The Netherlands at the Amsterdam ArenA. Through this Wi-Fi network both the Amsterdam ArenA and Ajax are enabled to offer new services to fans and other visitors, which will enrich their experience in the stadium. It is expected that all visitors of events at the ArenA will be able to use this Wi-Fi network optimally from the beginning of 2015. During Ajax matches, use of the Wi-Fi will be free.


Sponsorship package: The official partnership with Ajax will last for three years. The sponsorship package includes brand presence during Ajax matches through LED boarding and visibility in the club’s offline and online media. The package provides Huawei the opportunity to increase brand recognition and includes several elements for brand activation.


Huawei received the EISA Award for European consumer smart phones in 2013 and is both globally and in The Netherlands the number 3 brand in the smart phone business. With the recently launched new high-end smart phone, the Ascend P7, the market share is expected to grow further.


The deals bring together three high performing organisations. Huawei is the leading worldwide player in the field of mobile infrastructure and this partnership completely matches Huawei’s strategy in Europe, which aims to partner with highly renowned brands by providing them with its innovative solutions and products. For Ajax, one of the biggest names in the history of football, the deal perfectly matches with its focus on China and the ambition to bring fans the best possible experience. The Amsterdam ArenA, the largest stadium in The Netherlands, which is also used for concerts and other events, wants to bring the best and most sustainable technology available to its visitors.


Henk Markerink, CEO of Amsterdam ArenA, said of the collaboration:

Amsterdam ArenA is always looking for state-of-the-art technology which benefits our visitors. The innovative solution from Huawei makes it possible for us to have a working Wi-Fi network in the whole stadiums and therefore matches our ambitions. We are very happy to collaborate with such a big international company and further improve our service towards our customers.


Edwin van der Sar, Ajax’s Chief Marketing Officer, added the following about the partnership:

We are delighted to have signed this agreement. Huawei is the biggest Chinese company in The Netherlands and therefore fits our ambitions. Moreover, Huawei is an innovative company and their technology solution will enable us to deliver free WIFI to all our fans. So they can have the best football experience, for instance by directly sharing memorizable moments during the match with friends. But also by having a lot of additional information and news available.


Wang Dexian, CEO of Huawei Technologies Netherlands, said:

Huawei is delighted to partner with Ajax, one of the most successful football clubs in the world ever, and the Amsterdam ArenA, the most state-of-the-art stadium in The Netherlands, to show our sustainable commitment to the region. Sport is a very important part of our brand strategy, where we have partnered already with some of the biggest clubs in the world. This strategic partnership will also highly contribute to develop a new broadband solution to stadiums in The Netherlands and our innovative technology will bring new and better experiences to the fans and visitors.


Manchester City FC’s new Middle Eastern partnership

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English Premier League champion, Manchester City FC, extends its commercial ties with the Middle East by signing a three-year sponsorship deal with engineering and construction group Arabtec.


Arabtec specialises in projects in the Middle East and North Africa region, and will become a regional partner of the Club through to the end of the 2016-17 season.


Under the terms of the deal, Arabtec will receive brand exposure at MCFC’s Etihad Stadium and across its digital platforms. The company will also receive tickets and special programmes for VIPs to attend matches and special events.


An Arabtec representative said the deal would “reinforce its brand in the Middle East, North African, Russian, Indian and Serbian markets”.


Hasan Ismaik, Managing Director and Chief Executive of Arabtec, added the regional sponsorship of Manchester City FC is perfectly-timed with the company pushing ahead with plans to become one of the top 10 firms in the world by 2018.

iSportconnect debates key event topics

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iSportconnect, the world’s largest sports business network, hosted a panel of high-profile speakers at the iSportconnect Directors’ Club (in association with Euroleague Basketball) at The O2 in London. The event, in Question Time format, covered a range of topics including player behaviour, media and sponsorship rights and the challenges of introducing new sport franchises.

Jordi Bertomeu, the CEO and President of Euroleague Basketball, David Grevemberg, CEO of Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, Tony Scholes, Chief Executive of Stoke City Football Club and Mike Miller, CEO of the World Olympians Association engaged in debate with the crowd and discussed topical issues in the sports business world.

The event, in partnership with Generate Sponsorship, began with an opening speech from Bertomeu and a video on Euroleague Basketball, introducing the delegates to Europe’s premier basketball league. The video detailed some interesting statistics about Euroleague Basketball in Europe, including that the Final Four series will be broadcast live to nearly 200 countries on all five continents.

The debate opened up with a discussion about the importance of media rights evaluation versus other, more technological driven assets when evaluating a sponsorship. The importance of fan engagement for sponsors was generally agreed as being one of the core elements, while larger properties – such as the Premier League – should still highlight the huge global media value that sponsors benefit from.


Turkish Airlines widens sports sponsorship

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The Istanbul 2020 commercial partner, Turkish Airlines, has signed a three-year partnership with UEFA Champions League finalists, Borussia Dortmund, continuing the global brand’s association with international sporting excellence. The airline is the official event airline for Stadia & Arena 2013 taking place in Istanbul 21-23 May.

The airline recently announced a deal to buy 95 new Boeing planes over the next eight years to help service its 200-plus worldwide destinations. News of a third airport planned for Istanbul adds to the city’s infrastructure credibility when bidding to hold the 2020 Games.

Other Turkish Airlines sponsorships include Primary sponsor of Turkish Airlines Euroleague basketball, Official sponsor of 2010 FIBA World Championships in Turkey, Official Airline of FC Barcelona and Manchester United.

Hasan Arat, Chairman of Istanbul 2020, said:

This shows that Turkey’s thriving private sector is already having a positive impact on sport around the world. I am so proud that one of our key commercial partners, a Turkish company, is involved in so many markets and so many different sporting events. This is not unique to Turkish Airlines; I fully expect to see further Turkish sponsors emerge in world sport over the next few years and I am sure that this will accelerate if Istanbul is elected as Olympic host city for 2020.

first direct arena naming rights deal in Leeds

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 L-R Mark Mullen of first direct and John Sutherland of SMG Europe.

L-R Mark Mullen of first direct and John Sutherland of SMG Europe.

first direct has concluded a major sponsorship deal with SMG to give its name to the new and ground-breaking arena in Leeds as part of a five-year naming rights agreement. The 13,000 seat venue which opens in July 2013 will now be called the first direct arena.

This is the first major sponsorship the bank has undertaken in its 24 year history and means the name of the multi-award winning customer service champion will become ever more familiar with the many thousands of fans who attend the concerts and performances to be hosted at the arena.

Mark Mullen, Chief Executive of first direct commented:

This is a really exciting move for first direct. Leeds is the city that has made us who we are and we’re thrilled to be able to support such a major development for all the people who live and visit here.

It’s the first time we’ve undertaken such a major sponsorship but we’re often referred to as banking’s best kept secret so this should certainly put us on the map.

John Sutherland, Managing Director of SMG Europe who run the arena, said:

SMG Europe is totally committed to operating world class arenas that are supported by world class commercial partnerships. We are delighted that such an iconic and customer focused brand is partnering with us to deliver the outstanding customer experience that will be offered at the first direct arena.

The first direct arena will have a pre launch event on 24 July with Bruce Springsteen, followed by its official opening by Sir Elton John on 4 September. The £65m venue, which features a unique fan shaped design, the best acoustics in Europe and an innovative and striking design, is already attracting the biggest names in the entertainment industry.