‘Right people in room help make great venues’



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Dan August at Coliseum US 2023 Image: Coliseum GSVA

Dan August and his team knows how to take a dare which is why they took up the daunting task of opening the amazeballs SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California (US) in the thick of the pandemic – September 8th, 2020.

Dan August has been with the National Football League (NFL) for the last 16 years. The 2023 season marks August’s eighth season with the NFL team Los Angeles Rams and his second as the Executive Vice- President of Consumer Revenue and Strategy.

In an exclusive exchange with ‘Coliseum’, Dan August, EVP, Consumer Revenue & Strategy, Los Angeles Rams, US, says that though COVID-19 “slowed things down a bit” in relation to the SoFi Stadium and it was not a walk-in-the-park task, but due to the exemplary vision of the owner of the spectacular venue Stan Kroenke things were very much on track and the coronavirus outbreak which brought the world to a standstill could not stop construction. James A. Renne, AIA, National Director, Sports & Entertainment, JLL, US, joins August in asserting that the entire team deserves accolades for pulling off the stadium opening job in such a smooth manner.
 

SoFi Stadium

The SoFi Stadium is a 70,240-seat sports and entertainment indoor-outdoor stadium in the Los Angeles suburb of Inglewood, California, United States. The SoFi Stadium is an unprecedented and unparalleled sports and entertainment destination built in Inglewood by the Los Angeles Rams Owner/Chairman E. Stanley Kroenke. The first indoor-outdoor stadium to be constructed, SoFi Stadium is the home of the Los Angeles Chargers and the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League (NFL).

Dan August shared a few words about his job role – “I have been with the NFL league office for eight years and then the Los Angeles Rams were moving out to Los Angeles and I was asked to join the team and this is Season 8 for me with them. I look after consumer revenues, ticketing, guest experience on gamedays, retail, food and beverage (F&B), and our gameday operations. So, really everything has to do with the consumer journey.”

James A. Renne was all praise for the “magnificent vision” of Stanley Kroenke. August could not agree more and stated, “Kroenke wanted not just a stadium, he wanted the most spectacular stadium of all time and a mixed-use development. We have a movie theater, we have a fitness chain coming on board and the 18,000-capacity Intuit Dome is opening across the street (scheduled to open in August 2024). His vision is really great and we hold all big-ticket events like the Super Bowl, College Football Playoff, etc. We do have a robust calendar of events.”

Added August, “The pandemic period also enabled us to revisit few things that were an oversight in the original vision. We decided to do away with the 365 coffee bar setup and in its place we built a team store as a centerpiece for everything.”

Renne remarked that “in the sports industry everybody talks about the bigger picture and everybody wants to be a part of something bigger and enjoy both the pre-game and the post-game experience. The SoFi Stadium is exactly that and everything is highly monetized.” August joined him in averring that “at the roof of the stadium we have tailgate parties for different groups and now the NFL has a field where they do their morning show and uses that as a family tailgate before the game, players gather there with their families after the game, the casino is on the South end and we use that for a fan-facing pregame tailgate, and the movie theater has opened not very long back. So, we are finding out ways to get people to increase the dwell time in the stadium which really is a great challenge.”

Renne said that eventually a lot of other stadia might come up near the SoFi Stadium and though the Rams and the Chargers are big attractions, but more events will have to be held to keep the stadium activated. To this, August stated, “The goal was originally to have 250 events between the YouTube Theater (a 6,000- seat music and theater venue in Inglewood located under the same structure that houses the SoFi Stadium) and the SoFi Stadium, we are not quite there yet but we are working our way towards.”

The SoFi Stadium could host up to eight World Cup games in 2026. Its artificial turf will need to be replaced with natural grass and the field will be modified to meet the FIFA specifications. Renne observed that since the Super Bowl was held in the striking facility in February 2022, so the lessons learned from the Super Bowl would apply to the FIFA extravaganza.

August stated that the “signage will be key and setting aggressive prices and selling the same which we did in the case of the Super Bowl. Tailgate parties too. When you are on the worldwide stage people are ready to loosen their purse strings and lighten their wallets.”

August felt that “when an event like the FIFA World Cup™ comes to town it is more about the visibility that one gets. And we can monetize on that.”

Renne opined that “every new stadium is great and venue operators have a lot of lessons to learn from the SoFi Stadium team and Kroenke who pulled together his vision despite the biggest hurdle in the form of coronavirus.”

August affirmed that a team which embarks on building a new stadium “must have the right people in the room leading to a seamless fan experience”.
 

Sum-Up

Right now, Dan August is peppy because the spectacular SoFi Stadium is gearing up to host the greatest soccer show on earth – the 2026 FIFA World Cup™ which the United States will be hosting jointly with Canada and Mexico – and is due to hold the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of LA28 – the 2028 Summer Olympics scheduled to take place from July 14th-30th, 2028 in Los Angeles.

He summed up by stating, “The World Cup does come in with modifications but a lot of that is being figured out and there are some things around drainage that needs to be done, the team is working it out and getting into conversations with FIFA.”

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