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5 min read
Caitlin White

In 2019, 150,000 out-of-towners flocked to Atlanta for Super Bowl LIII. The result? An estimated $400 million economic impact for the city.


While major sporting events like the Super Bowl do require significant upfront investments, they have potential to rejuvenate local economies and serve as platforms to celebrate and showcase a host city’s unique culture.


From connecting residents and tourists through immersive experiences to leveraging social media and digital platforms for effective promotion, technology can help create lasting connections between communities and sports fans worldwide. But these solutions mean nothing without a plan behind them.


Digital strategies play a pivotal role in maximising these events’ benefits by enhancing community engagement, promoting local businesses, driving fan engagement and amplifying the overall impact of major sporting events on host cities.


The dual impact of major sporting events: economic and cultural benefits


Major sporting events have the potential to impact the economies of host cities. But because two of the primary drivers of these impacts are tourism and spending, it’s crucial to note that this predominantly benefits developed countries whose cities already contain some necessary infrastructure.


For example, UK visitors spent an estimated £760 million during the 2012 London Olympics. Conversely, other cities see net decreases in tourism, presumably from regular tourists eager to avoid sporting crowds.


These events can also contribute to short-term job creation, such as temporary roles in hospitality, event management and security. In cases where the construction of new facilities or infrastructure is necessary, these events can create longer-lasting employment opportunities.


Increased revenue for local businesses is another potential benefit of hosting sporting events, as the influx of visitors leads to higher demand for goods and services. Host city restaurants, hotels and shops can see an uptick in sales, which can extend to sectors such as transportation and entertainment.


For example, when the Milwaukee Bucks won the 2021 NBA Finals – the franchise’s first championship in 50 years – the net economic impact came out to $57.6 million for roughly one month of games.


On top of potential economic impacts, major sporting events give hosts the opportunity to shine a spotlight on a city’s unique cultural offerings. Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival during the 2016 Summer Olympics allowed millions of viewers worldwide to experience Brazil’s vibrant culture. And despite being held in 2021 without spectators due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics still showcased Japanese culture through the opening and closing ceremonies, integrating traditional elements like taiko drumming and kabuki theatre.


Major sporting events can also promote community engagement, inspiring a sense of unity and excitement among residents and encouraging volunteerism. The London 2012 Games, for instance, had around 70,000 volunteers, known as ‘Games Makers’, who played a vital role in the event’s success. Such engagement can help foster a sense of community after the event has concluded.


Technology solutions to maximise community engagement and financial gain


Technology can transform the experience of major sporting events, elevating them beyond the spectacle of the competition itself. Endava’s work providing the R&A World Golf Museum with digital infrastructure is one example. This innovative tech platform earned 15 million clicks per day, enhancing the spectator experience by providing up-to-the-second stats on players and golf tournaments so fans could stay connected to the event and be more engaged with the sport.


Technology can significantly enhance community engagement and financial gain by providing innovative platforms for connection, promotion and cultural exchange. During the pandemic, we saw just how integral technology was to keeping fans engaged with sports they could not attend.


Connecting residents and tourists through innovative technology platforms


In an age when digital connection is vital, technology can offer innovative ways to link residents and tourists during major sporting events. For instance, mobile applications have become essential for enhancing visitors’ experiences. During the 2020 Olympics, an official mobile app provided real-time updates, event schedules, venue information and navigation aids, making it easier for spectators to navigate the massive event.


Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) can also help strengthen the connection between events and their attendees. For example, the organisers of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing introduced an immersive VR experience that allowed fans worldwide to explore the venues and enjoy the games virtually, bridging the geographical divide amid travel restrictions.


Harnessing social media and digital platforms to promote events and local businesses


Social media and digital platforms have become powerful tools that chief experience officers can leverage to promote major sporting events and local businesses. The use of targeted advertising, for instance, can help reach a global audience, boosting both ticket sales and tourism.


Influencer partnerships and event-specific hashtags are other effective promotional strategies. At the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, popular sports influencers were encouraged to share their experiences. The official event hashtag trended globally, creating a buzz and encouraging user-generated content.


Infusing local culture into event planning with cutting-edge solutions


Technology is key to incorporating and showcasing local culture into sporting events. Take the 2020 Summer Olympics, for instance, where interactive displays and digital installations were used to engage attendees and highlight Japanese culture. During the ‘G-SATELLITE Go to Space’ project, a small satellite launched into space that displayed messages and images to support the athletes and was adorned with popular Japanese anime characters.


Crowdsourced content is another innovative approach for infusing local culture into sporting events. During the 2021 Tour de France and Tour de France Femmes, fans were invited to share their experiences and stories through a dedicated app, creating a digital tapestry of the competition and the diverse cultures of the participating and host communities.


Amplifying the legacy of major sporting events with technology


The legacy of sporting events can extend far beyond the closing ceremonies. With the help of technology, host cities can continue to reap the benefits of these events, creating lasting connections and experiences that resonate with residents and visitors.


Furthermore, the technological infrastructure established for these events often continues to benefit the host cities. High-speed internet connections, smart city solutions and other tech upgrades made for the event can enhance the city’s overall digital landscape, fostering innovation and attracting future opportunities.


As the intersection between sports and technology evolves, having a trusted partner can make all the difference. With our deep industry knowledge and technical expertise, we can help you leverage cutting-edge technologies to maximise the impact of your major sporting events.


Whether it’s creating immersive fan experiences, promoting local businesses or amplifying your event’s cultural significance, we’re ready to help you achieve your goals. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can support your vision.


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