The purpose of Fieldlab SAX (Spectacular ArenA eXperiences) was to connect multiple stakeholders related to visitor experience of sports events. The four year program has delivered several isolated and combined outcomes by each of the participating collaborators.


The results specifically delivered by the AUAS (Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences) are related to the information shared on the pages of this website. 

“Large stadiums have difficulty trusting new innovations. They might not always be ready to embrace the intangible factors of visitor experience, and prefer to rather not invest, than to make a mistake and maybe spend more money or players like a more old fashioned type of company.” – Snaptivity

A two step approach was followed, namely initial research summarizing the needs of visitors and inventorisation of additional knowledge (Change The Game Challenge, Tour visits, questionnaires etc.) related to visitor experience. The second step was applying these results for validation, using a Service Design approach with the methods mentioned in this website, resulting in prototypes and creative sessions.


The wide variety of qualitative and quantitative data of the initial research was used as input for the second part to fully map the entire visitor Experience and related Ecosystem surrounding it. Mapping all these insights on different levels, uncovering relations that were first not visible or known helped to create new visions for the future for each of the stakeholders. The innovation in the Ecosystem that took place and the validation of the approach and results is briefly described below.

Validation and general insights:

  • One of the important steps was to validate the fan segmentation and service factors. Both were defined using desk research and quantitative research. During prototyping with students, creative sessions with stakeholders and interviews with external innovative companies, these defined segmentation and factors proved very valuable and fitting to reality. On different levels of conversation and during co-creation, these variables stimulated the conversation and helped to distinguish the most important topics and leave out less important parts, instead of having a general conversation or starting from scratch in a creative process. Due to the initial segmentation and factors a coherent “fan experience vocabulary” structured the process of fine-tuning of scopes or defining a goal for innovation.
  • Existing (design) methods were used in new ways to map the ecosystem of visitor experience and everything surrounding it. These Service Design methods were combined with the STOF & SSC theory, supplementing each other and creating different levels of describing the orchestration of combined innovations (the stories in the experience map with 25 selected companies). These 25 service related services from the Change the Game Challenge served as primary input for creating the total Experience map. During creative sessions and interviews, this map and additional definitions (STOF & SSC), were highly appreciated by contributing stakeholders and external companies. All these methods can be found in the Application section by means of the Double Diamond.
  • In itself, the implementation of two challenges (Change the Game and Reimagine football) has enormously stimulated the Ecosystem. Gathering startups, large companies and technical innovators, has helped to inspire JCA, AJAX, KNVB and research partner TNO and ourselves (the AUAS). Without these challenges, the buildup of the ecosystem wouldn’t have been as inspiring or wouldn’t have accelerated in the way that it has.
  • Interviewing several related competitors of the Change the Game Challenge that were selected by JCA, KNVB and AJAX has given us more insights, but also confirmed most of our assumptions about the ecosystem. The Quotes might give you an idea of the scope of these interviews and discussed topics.
  • The digital transition has changed the traditional sports business model, where the main revenues consist of ticketing, merchandising, broadcasting rights, media and technologies and sponsorships. The main challenge is in (media) innovations that control content and data to personalize content for fans, which in turn can generate direct revenue.

  • Sports organizations are also often looking for new sources of income for fans. For example, new business models can be based more on an entire ecosystem. Companies that manage the distribution of data and digital content could perhaps collaborate more, allowing sports organizations and innovations to use data-driven strategies and partner ecosystems. A multi-sided (ecosystem) approach would allow data to be shared for the benefit of all partners.

  • It is important that innovation is not only business to business, but also the preferences of the consumer (fans) should be taken into account. Communities and the local economy in particular can benefit from (sports) events that are organized.

Advice Bottlenecks / Hurdles to overcome / Tips ’n Tricks?

  • When it comes to the issue of content, ownership is most often the reason of stagnation, or broadcasting restrictions. One of the possibilities is making your own content or finding a third party for specific tasks (visual elements, audio, or for instance VR/AR/MR). Even if (live) content is privately made, there might still be a broadcasting issue. This larger scale issue can be solved within the Ecosystem, but requires good negotiations and willingness from stakeholders to provide certain rights to do so. 
  • Such decisions usually take place on management level. Getting in touch with the right person or having your ideas be shared within certain teams can be done by developing a prototype or a working application to persuade one or more stakeholders. Looking at the Covid situation for instance, many technologies or ideas were already present but not implemented for a first prototype. These pilots are worth more than waiting for the right opportunity. At a certain moment in time, the opportunity might have already passed or could have actually generated more income and loyalty and commitment from visitors, sponsors or other stakeholders, instead of making the choice to play safe and wait. The entire Ecosystem is larger than one on one relations, and a small investment can make quite a big difference to test technologies and keep improvements flowing, even in times of crisis.
  • Keeping all stakeholders activated and aligned is another important and difficult one. Sharing insights can be done via creative sessions, or creating challenges like “Change the Game” or “Reimagine Football” have proved to be very successful. An overview of all connected and different types of stakeholders is needed however, and also regular updates or at least set moments to inform one another is key to show the needs of each involved stakeholder and build on opportunities. Using Incubators or SDG’s for common ground and focus are also valuable ways to align stakeholders.
  • Conflicting interests or difficult processes need to be tackled as soon as possible to maintain a healthy and productive cooperation between stakeholders. Like mentioned before several times, embracing Design Thinking methods or Service Design for a more Agile way of development, will prove to be beneficial in the long term. The methods shown in the Double Diamond and explained in several sections on this website show the benefits and application. Reshaping strategies and business models to become more User Centred, will make it possible to not only focus on initial contact to make certain business deals (like the more traditional top-down approach), but to start using a more co-creative style of innovation, using the available knowledge off all the stakeholders. This last step is maybe the most difficult one for which soft skills are needed to connect stakeholders, giving trust to one another and trying out new directions, stimulating innovation on the broadest ecosystem level and letting knowledge flow.