Geoff Wilson: The ‘Game Day’ Experience @ Austin FC

Earlier this year, Geoff Wilson had the pleasure of speaking at SXSW in Austin, Texas. While in the city, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to take in an MLS game featuring Austin FC against St Louis City.



The following a reflection on his game-day experience and what he drew from the visit:


The Positives

Informative Pre-Game Emails: Thumbs up to Austin FC for keeping me in the loop with informative pre-game emails. It helped build anticipation and kept me updated on all the latest match details such as transportation to the stadium and amenities at the stadium.


Smooth Stadium Entry: Getting into the stadium was a breeze, thanks to an efficient ticket scanning system – an essential aspect that enhanced the overall fan experience.


Efficient Tram Service: Kudos to the City and Austin FC for providing convenient tram services outside the stadium, ensuring a swift and hassle-free departure for fans before and after the game. The tram system had just opened before my trip to SXSW, and it ensured quick and hassle-free transportation to and from the stadium.


Reliable WiFi: This seamless and had fast connectivity. Perfect.


Extensive Merchandise: There was a diverse range of team wear on offer at the stadium shop and the ‘pop-up merchandise kiosks’ located around the venue. 


The Austin FC Logo: The Austin FC logo was consistently applied across the stadium. However, what was missing was the club’s identity and brand story – I want to know more!


Knowledgeable staff: Well-informed staff added a personal touch, making fans feel welcome and valued. The staff I spoke to were polite, knowledgeable and engaging.


Food Options: Austin FC’s stadium delivered on the quality and variety of food options, ensuring fans were well-fed and satisfied throughout the game. The food was not only served hot but very efficiently which resulted in small queues kiosks.


Electrifying Pre-Game Atmosphere: The pre-game festivities, including the vibrant ‘green’ lights, big screen displays and exhilarating music set the stage for an electrifying match experience that got fans pumped up and ready to support the team.


The Fans: From smoke flares to drumbeats and fan chants, the stadium atmosphere during the game was electric, creating an unforgettable experience. This for me was a highlight. The ‘ultra fans’ positioned themselves behind the goal with several cheerleaders driving the atmosphere. They never stopped during the game – I loved it!

Innovative Scoring Celebrations: One of the ‘surprises’ for me, was the use of the dynamic lighting in the stadium. The sight of the stadium bathed in green whenever Austin FC scored was a brilliant touch that ignited celebrations and fostered a sense of unity among the home fans – a memorable highlight of the game. 


Suggestions to improve the experience


Signage: While the signage throughout the stadium was adequate, clearer directions to seats in concourse areas could be improved to help those unfamiliar with the stadium navigate with ease. I got lost finding the way to my seat. The signage to the tribune could be improved especially for those first-time fans!


Enhancing Halftime Entertainment: While the halftime show had its moments, I couldn’t help but feel that a more dynamic and captivating lights display would elevate the excitement and energy in the stadium. Why this ‘dynamic lighting’ was not used at halftime was an opportunity missed. Combining the lighting with music, based around some clear storytelling, would really add to the overall experience.


Immersive Storytelling: While the game itself was exciting, incorporating more immersive storytelling elements, such as multimedia presentations or player spotlights before the game and at halftime would add depth and intrigue.


The Fan Zone: There was no fan zone outside the stadium to help create the excitement and engage fans. An interactive fans area would help to create an even more vibrant pre-game atmosphere for fans to enjoy.


Post-Game Communications: Since I have been home, I am yet to receive an email from Austin FC. This is an opportunity missed to deepen my relationship with the club.


In conclusion, my Austin FC game day experience was nothing short of enjoyable and memorable. While there were areas for improvement, such as halftime entertainment and better signage, the overall atmosphere, amenities and passion of the fans made it an unforgettable event.


About Geoff Wilson

Geoff runs his own consultancy business, with a focus primarily on sport.  Previously Head of Marketing and Communications at the Irish FA, Geoff now consultants to a wide range of global sports organisations on areas such as strategic planning, marketing and communications, digital, fans engagement, public affairs, women’s football, league development, club development and knowledge sharing / capacity building programmes.  Geoff has created numerous academic models for the sports industry. Geoff is on the Advisory Panel at the English Football League and Chair of the Sports Council Trust Company (Sport England organisation).


Image: Geoff Wilson





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