Raising the Bar on Connectivity at the Stadium – Populous’ Richard Breslin & David Fleming

October 31, 2014

We have written about our vision for a “connected stadium” in an earlier column of iSportconnect; designing with the latest technology infrastructure in mind and considering how this can benefit the many stakeholders involved in the live sporting experience. Today we are considering one of these stakeholders in particular, the sport’s Sponsors.

The pioneers in sport sponsorship are looking to use a stadium’s technology investment to position their brand, show innovation, and create unique and exciting experiences for their customers. We have been working with one such sponsor in Australia to create a new kind of space by taking a former stock standard hospitality suite at ANZ Stadium in Sydney and turning it into a whole new technologically immersive experience for the fan. My colleague, and head of Activate in Australasia, David Fleming explains.

Telstra is Australia’s largest telecommunications company. It is the naming rights partner of the Telstra Premiership competition and Internet and Mobile partner of the National Rugby League.  Telstra was also integral to ANZ Stadium’s achievement as the first venue in Australasia to offer free Wi-Fi to all fans in and around the Stadium.

Telstra briefed Populous Activate to “totally reimagine” a hospitality suite at ANZ Stadium and create something entirely new in connectivity for the fans. It wanted to capitalize on its recently installed Wi Fi and its vision for the NRL so it needed to be completed in time for the 2014 National Rugby League (NRL) Grand Finals. The result was “The Connected Lounge”, an imaginative and interactive technology centre delivering content simultaneously using several platforms.

Telstra’s Group Media Manager, Matt McCann was clear the redesigned lounge was not to be exclusively for corporates.  “We wanted it to be the next part of Telstra’s strategy to provide brilliantly different experiences for all our fans and customers.  We wanted to use technology to bring fans closer to the action, keeping them “connected” in an environment and atmosphere that was exciting,” he said.

Telstra’s Connected Lounge is the first such corporate suite of its kind in Asia where a sponsor’s customers, NRL fans and partners all have a chance to be part of a new type of live game experience.


Some of the features of this interactive technology centre included:

•           A wall of interactive televisions with Gesture Recognition Software showcasing customised video content and live stats

•           Bespoke content generated from the Lounge by NRL media partners Triple M who called the game live for fans at the stadium

•           NRL Broadcaster Channel 9 produced half time content from the suite which was then displayed on the big screens in the stadium

•           Social content created specifically for the fans at the stadium and subsequently generated direct from inside the Lounge

•           Ability to promote Telstra loyalty initiatives to their customers in the form of instant ticket upgrades or a chance to visit the Lounge in real time.

“The Connected Lounge is the blueprint of how we’ll continue to deliver on our Connected Stadium strategy at our other stadiums throughout Australia, and how we’ll engage with customers and fans through digital channels,” said Matt McCann.

“We want to connect with our customers on a personal and meaningful level through tailored content, to deliver on Telstra Media’s strategy to create different content experiences anywhere, anytime on any screen.”

At Populous, we do not believe developing digital activations like Telstra’s Connected Lounge is the exclusive domain of the telecommunication or digital companies.  With the consumer expecting she or he will always be “on” (and every leading company knowing it must embrace the potential of digital into its business model), we anticipate there will be more and more exploitation of digital infrastructure by brands, both at stadiums and other venues.

Richard Breslin Cropped 2

Richard Breslin is a Senior Principal at Populous and a Director of the Asian/Pacific office headquartered in Brisbane. Richard also sits on the worldwide strategic Board of Populous. Richard is responsible for all of the firm’s projects in New Zealand and Australia.

Richard is currently leading the Populous team on the Darling Harbour Live project in Sydney in a HASSELL+ Populous joint venture. The $750M project includes the design of a convention centre, exhibition centre and theatre. He is also Director in charge of the redevelopment of Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne.

In 1997, Richard commenced work with the team on the design of Stadium Australia (now ANZ Stadium), the main venue for the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games. At this time, he also worked on the event overlay for the Games before moving to London where he worked on the design of the 90,000 seat Wembley Stadium, and the design of the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He was also project leader for Populous’ successful master plan for the London 2012 Olympic Park.

In 2007, Richard immigrated to New Zealand, where he led the teams on Eden Park redevelopment in Auckland and Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin; – both were venues for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. 

Richard’s isportconnect-profile-widget

Populous_DavidFlemingDavid has worked in the commercial side of sport and entertainment for over 15 years. A former member of the National Sponsorship Association, David has worked extensively in sponsorship, having acted on behalf of both brands and rights holders. He is now applying that expertise to Populous’ core business, helping design business outcomes for different sporting stakeholders such as Sponsors, Sporting codes, Government and Stadium owners.

Recent commissions include working with the ACT Government on a blueprint to develop the cultural masterplan for the City to the Lake in Canberra; commissions with brands such as Coca-Cola Amatil and Telstra on sponsorship activation at venues; working with Stadiums Queensland to identify strategic sponsorship opportunities at both Townsville and Skilled Park on the Gold Coast, and assisting Sydney Showgrounds in the development of sponsorship assets around the Royal Sydney Show. David is also working with several high profile Populous Clients in Asia on sponsorship opportunities around venues under construction.

David’s isportconnect-profile-widget

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