In his role as Associate AD for Digital Brand Strategy for TCU Athletics, Kyle Seay oversees social media for the entire athletic department while managing the visual identity of the programs. Under his leadership, TCU has been voted among the top 25 visual brands among all Power Five programs.
In a chat with Hashtag Sports, Kyle tells us how his department showed off a $113 million stadium renovation without being able to bring anyone in person.
This interview is part of our Sports Pause Playbook, which highlights the work of leaders in engagement from the time without sports to the innovations helping bring it back to action this summer and fall.
You hosted a virtual ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Legends Club & Suites, a $113 million expansion project to TCU football stadium. What can you share about the project?
Completely rebuilt in 2012, Amon G. Carter Stadium has become one of the premier venues in intercollegiate athletics, and we feel this expansion project further cements our commitment to provide an unparalleled fan experience. With an extensive waitlist for premium areas, this project has provided new opportunities to engage with our community and offer seating inventory that wasn’t previously available.
The expansion consists of 22 luxury suites, 48 loge boxes and 1,050 premium club seats. It’s a unique setting that directly looks back towards the Downtown Fort Worth skyline and TCU’s campus.
Additionally, a new state-of-the-art LED video board was installed in the north end zone prior to the start of the 2019 season.
Schools in the south are presented significant challenges combating the hotter temperatures in the early part of the season. A number of the facility’s features were determined with that kept in mind, including the suites being built overhead of the outdoor club and loge seating, an extended overhang off the top of the suites, installing high-powered fans, utilizing cooler mesh-back seating materials and louver technology to protect sun exposure.
On top of Saturdays in the fall, the new expansion offers a venue capable of hosting a wide range of events for all of campus, and the Fort Worth community. The space was specifically designed to accommodate outside events throughout the year to generate additional revenue.
Aside from general fan engagement, what unique objectives or goals led to the creation of hosting a virtual ribbon cutting ceremony?
We’re very fortunate to have such a loyal and supportive donor base here at TCU, and they gave us the opportunity to take on this project for the east side, which completes the total aesthetic at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
We had planned a grand opening of the space for our donors prior to the start of our spring game that would simulate what a game experience would be like, but of course our plans were halted by the coronavirus pandemic.
With the commitment that these donors have made to us, we still wanted to be able to provide them with that experience. With this virtual ribbon cutting project, we are not only able to bring them as close to a tour of the new space as possible, but it also provides them with something tangible and a keepsake, as we mailed each donor a commemorative book that opens into a video screen with the ribbon cutting and tour.
How was success in effectively engaging your fans determined with this project?
With this project, there weren’t the usual measures of success for a digital campaign that we would normally look for, as this was sent out to a smaller select group, and was packaged inside of a commemorative book. Success for this campaign is that we have shown our appreciation for our donors and hopefully energized them about the upcoming season and the experiences that they can look forward to for years to come.
One goal was to ensure the donors that made this project possible be the first ones to see this space. With the unknowns about campus limitations in the summer, this provided them exclusive access before any other group steps foot inside the facility.
Once our project donors are able to enjoy the virtual ribbon cutting and get the first look of the new space, we’ll release the video on our social platforms to highlight the area and emphasize our commitment to continued improvement.
What new benchmark(s) in fan engagement does this set?
One unique aspect to this project is the combination of a tangible item with a virtual experience, as the donors can have a nice, commemorative book that also has a video player inside it. This is something they can always have on display and show their friends and family.
I’m also proud of our development and creative teams for finding a solution for our donors, no matter the circumstances that we found ourselves in.
What unique challenges were top of mind while developing this ceremony, and how did you overcome them?
This was certainly a unique situation, as the space was still undergoing the final stages of the construction, along with navigating through a project during a pandemic.
We filmed different aspects of the new space in stages once the work was complete in those areas, while observing social distancing, taking temperatures and wearing masks.
How will this event change the way TCU Athletics thinks about and produces content after the sports hiatus?
Working during a pandemic is new to all of us and there’s no instruction booklet to know how to navigate through it, and I believe this project provides motivation for us any time we may run into road blocks, that there are other avenues we can take.
We don’t know how long this crisis will continue, so it sets the tone for how we’ll have to pivot to more virtual and second-screen activations for our fans that can’t be there in person to still be able to engage in the TCU experience.
It also offers a new approach to highlighting facilities throughout campus, especially with the uncertainty of official visits for recruiting. This video concept will work as both a thank you to current project donors, and an avenue to attract new ones to the project.
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