While everyone’s talking about the Super Bowl, I was interested in something else but arguably more important: the fan experience at NFL games. That’s why I reached out to Steve Cannon to be a guest on my FUTUREPROOF. podcast, where we talk about the future of just about everything – smart cities, augmented reality, and even the fan experience. Cannon is CEO of AMB Group, part of Arthur Blank’s for-profit businesses, and includes the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United FC and Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
One of the most impressive things about Cannon’s stewardship is how the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium has propelled the Falcons to the top of the food and beverage rankings, according to fans. This is even more impressive when considering where the Falcons ranked previously. In 2015 and 2016, at Georgia Dome, the Falcons had a 6.3, making it 18th in the NFL in that regard. To put it in perspective, the top team achieved a 7.5 score. However, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Falcons achieved an 8.2 score, good for first in the NFL by a huge margin: the runner-up achieved a 6.9.
Cannon has shown that improving the fan experience doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing profits: despite a 50 percent drop in food prices, average spending per fan at Falcons games in 2017 increased by 16 percent over 2016. That’s due to an astounding volume increase of 53 percent, which is more impressive when you consider that attendance was nearly static year-over-year.
“It’s the attention to detail and the thoughtfulness that went into the entire fan experience. It wasn’t just about price. It wasn’t just about [improving] entry,” explains Cannon. “It’s the whole level of attention to detail around the fan that I think ultimately we’re seeing an early report card [that] is validating our approach.”