Live sport will bring digital experiences to stadiums – Tennis Australia CEO

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - ATP Cup - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Feb. 4, 2021 Craig Tiley, CEO of Tennis Australia speaks to media during a press conference. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

February 10, 2021

By Leela de Kretser and Melanie Burton

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Long lines to enter stadiums and queuing for food and drink will fade away as live sports and entertainment events around the world emerge from the pandemic, Australia’s top tennis boss said.

Two days into hosting one of the first major global sports events to host crowds and international athletes since the coronavirus outbreak, Craig Tiley told Reuters at the Australian Open that premium experiences for fans in the future were going to be all about safety and merging digital experiences with real life entertainment.

“I think buying your own car and driving your own car, sitting in your own theater at home, enjoying your own content is going to be much more a thing of the future than it is today, even more so. So our challenge as a sport is, how do we bring people from that environment?” Tiley said in an interview.

Tiley, who is chief executive of Tennis Australia and the tournament director at the Open, said safety protocols will become of utmost importance to the live event industry, as will technology that gives fans quicker entry and a better experience inside stadiums.

“So ticketless entry, very quickly that is going to accelerate across the globe for sports entertainment,” he said. “Using your app for access to food and drink will be the same, but access also on your mobile device for all sorts of opportunities for you to serve as a coach, as a critique of the stats, as a predictor of what’s going to happen next.

“That’s the kind of value add you need to add to fans.”

He said also he hoped the Olympics will go ahead – but only if organizers add more rigorous quarantine measures.

After a grueling 11 months to get players and fans out to the Grand Slam in Melbourne, Tiley said he believed the pandemic had forever changed the ways leaders of businesses and organizations behave.

“The dictatorship style of leadership, the one central point style of leadership, that, in my view, will almost die with the with the ongoing crisis. But the one of great cooperation and of great integration and utilizing the capability and skills of a much broader team is the one that’s going to win.”

(Writing by Leela de Kretser; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)