How the environment impacts the whole team

You walk into a boardroom for an important meeting. You’re trying to decide who you’re going to work with; your new partner in crime. As you walk in, you notice two men sitting at the end of the table. The first is dressed in cargo shorts and an old tshirt, leaned back in his chair playing Angry Birds. The second is dressed in slacks and a button-up shirt and stands up to shake your hand as soon as you enter the room. Who do you want to work with?

Much like the way you dress and behave, your athletic facilities convey an unspoken message about your work ethic and ideals. Knowing this, it shouldn’t be a surprise that in a recent survey conducted by Powerhouse, more than half of the participants agreed that environmental graphics are extremely important for enhancing the fan experience as well as motivating staff, student-athletes and recruits.


1. The environment enhances (or diminishes) the fan experience.

Today in the NBA, NFL and MLB, marketers are looking for ways to enhance the fan experience through new technology. Similar ideas and advances can be applied to collegiate sports.

“Doing improvements as simple as tidying up the exterior look of a stadium with new graphics, updating concessions stands with modern equipment and food, and connecting concourses can make a huge impact on the overall fan experience that exists within a stadium.” said Preston McClellan of Sporting News. Technology investments have made photo-finish timing devices that link to communications technology for in-stadium displays such as scoreboards and broadcasting make the events more enjoyable for the spectators.

These improvements build up the sporting experience and could be what turns a building into a valued venue and a one-time customer into a life-long fan. In their State of Sports Marketing Report, Old Hat observed that, “fans go to games because attending an event in person delivers an experience that can’t be replicated on TV.”


2. The environment motivates your student-athletes and staff.

From 2002-2007, nearly 50 new athletic facilities were completed, 14 of them (28 percent) were on DIII campuses. In one article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, it’s evident that smaller DIII schools may be allocating funds to building state of the art athletic facilities for athletes and students alike. According to Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal, universities spent $495 million on new or renovated football venues in 2012 alone.

While you may not have the funds to rebuild your entire athletic facilities every time a new coach arrives, environmental graphics are key to refreshing older facilities with images that emphasize the goals of the coaches and the team. Creating this image is beneficial not only for driving players, but the staff as well. When you look up and see that wall of championship trophies or your coach’s motto, you’re reminded of the single goal under which you are all united.


3. The environment impacts recruiting efforts.

Poor maintenance and outdated designs can turn off potential players. In a study of how athletic facilities affect DI recruitment of student-athletes, researchers observed that:

  1. Athletic facilities rank 5th behind (1) coaches ideas/philosophy, (2) degree options, (3) size of the university, and (4) academic support services in factors that impact student-athlete’s college admission decisions.

  2. Females put greater emphasis on the condition of their sports facilities in their decision-making.

“To attract the best athletic talent to your specific institution, you need to have attractive facilities to help entice young athletes in order to better your athletic department, which in turn can have a significant impact on the overall institution,” noted researchers in the study. Facilities are one means of conveying the team’s personality, goals and ideals to student-athletes, so let the atmosphere you create emulate those ideals in the best way possible.


Of course, creating a great team requires more than just giving them state-of-the-art restrooms and movie theaters in their locker rooms, but environmental design does signal to everyone the standard to which you hold yourselves. Moreover, it can create lifelong fans; embolden your coaches and staff; and spark hardwork and enthusiasm in your athletes.