About 10 years ago, I did something at a sporting event that at the time felt extraordinary: I entered without a ticket. The occasion was a Major League Baseball game at Petco Park in San Diego. I had indeed purchased a ticket through the San Diego Padres website but was informed that my credit card would be enough for entry—all I needed to do was swipe it at the turnstile, where a small paper receipt would be printed with my seat number. The 13-year-old version of me would have been appalled at not having a perforated cardboard ticket stub as a keepsake. But the adult version of me was intrigued by the new technology, if not a bit nervous on the way there. Would this really work? It did.
With the subsequent rise of smartphones, the technology above already seems quaint. These amazing and essential devices now serve not only as your ticket, they can speak to you to offer the quickest route to the game. Once there, they can order all your food if you’d like. And, as was demonstrated at the recent launch of iPhone X, augmented reality will soon allow you to point your smartphone on the field and get instant stats of every player that comes into view of its camera.
It’s this backdrop—the digitalization of sports—that we are excited to highlight in this issue of SportsTravel with a special section on the topic of technology on and off the playing field (page 97). The topic will also be an emphasis at the TEAMS Conference & Expo in Orlando, October 30–November 2. There, we will feature a general session panel discussion on how technology is changing the sports landscape, through virtual reality, augmented reality and even artificial intelligence.
That session is part of the eSportsTravel Summit, a first-time track of programming at TEAMS that will explore the rise of e-sports and open your eyes to what the next 10 years and beyond hold for sporting events. We would love to have you join us. For more information on attending TEAMS, please visit TEAMSconference.com or call (877) 577-3700.