Students of Johan Cruyff Institute’s Master’s Degree in Sport Management, both University and Blended, face the challenge of how to improve the fan experience with the new Espai Barça and provide new revenue streams for the club
With the start of construction works on June 1, FC Barcelona will begin to realize the most exciting project in the club’s history: the Espai Barça has been designed to become the largest and most innovative sports and entertainment space in a European city. The project of the new FC Barcelona temple should serve as a catalyst for the digital transformation of the club, where connectivity, cybersecurity, big data and artificial intelligence, among others, will be a priority and the fan experience, one of the fundamental pillars of the project.
Students of Johan Cruyff Institute’s University Master’s Degree in Sports Management (Barcelona) and the Master in Sport Marketing and Management (Blended, Barcelona) have come up with and presented what, in their opinion, could be interesting proposals for fan engagement and new sources of income for FC Barcelona. They have done it as an academic work of the ‘Company Project’, an activity that Johan Cruyff Institute includes in its evaluation system for both master’s degrees.
José Luís Beltrán, digital project manager at FC Barcelona and at the same time professor of our course in digital transformation and revenue generation, gave the students all the details needed of the new Espai Barça to carry out the activity. “The challenge I have set them is how to approach change in a football club with new facilities and new stadiums. We have to try to make sure that the fans who come in the future spend the whole day there. We are going to go from a very passive experience—it’s not about going just to watch a football match or visit a museum—to something very active, that the fan is part of it.”
“When evaluating the proposals presented, I will take into account the improved fan experience, the cost-benefit and to make technology an important part of this improved fan experience” – José Luís Beltrán, digital project manager at FC Barcelona
When evaluating the proposals presented, Beltrán will take into account: “First of all, the fan experience. From there, we will also analyze the cost-benefit, since they will not bet on you if there is no return, no ROI. And finally, because I am more of an engineer, but focused on business, I will ask them to make technology an important part of this improved fan experience,” he explains.
At the Sports Tomorrow Congress, the innovation congress organized by Barça Innovation Hub last February, Espai Barça’s operating director, Àlex Barbany, stressed that “the main objective of the project is to modernize our home and facilities to create new environments, spaces and assets that generate additional revenue, while preserving the club’s legacy and history.”
“Being able to work with FC Barcelona is a marvelous experience considering it’s such a large institution, with so many fans and so much public impact” – Ricardo Salinas, student of the University Master’s Degree in Sports Management
The importance of the emotional connection that a club like FC Barcelona maintains with its fans is a common feature in the different proposals presented by the students. “Especially for this work we focused precisely on the connection that FC Barcelona has with the Catalan community and with the city of Barcelona. We believe that an important part of what the club represents lies in this type of values, and that’s why we focused on that to adequately occupy the spaces it has today,” explains Ricardo Salinas, a student of the University Master’s Degree in Sports Management. For him, “being able to work with FC Barcelona is an unimaginable experience if you think you want to dedicate yourself to sport management. It is a marvelous experience in such a large institution, with so many fans and so much public impact.”
The ‘Company Project’ aims to connect the content of the different subjects of the master’s degree to respond to a real challenge posed by a company in the sports sector, promote networking between students and industry professionals and offer students the possibility of helping to implement their proposed solution in the future through an internship agreement.
In this sense, José Luís Beltrán assures that “the students who graduate at Johan Cruyff Institute are already professionally prepared to work at a football club in different areas: business, branding, marketing, finance… The important thing about this challenge and what I always tell them is that it is a professional job, within the academic framework because there is an assessment, but they must think that they are from a big consultancy firm and they are offering a new project to a club—big or small, or whatever—that wants to increase the fan experience and obtain revenue, a profit.”
Andreu Turró, professor of innovation at Johan Cruyff Institute, has seen “very disruptive proposals” in the tutorials. “We have asked them for formulas to maximize revenue in this new Camp Nou, in this stadium that Barça is completely remodeling,” he explains. “From this point of view, the idea is to think of anything that can bring new sources of revenue to the club so that they are not just concentrated on match day, but 365 days a year. The students are working very creatively.”