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'Involving our fans everywhere we can': How CSEC is using tech to boost the Saddledome experience

It may be one of the oldest arenas in the NHL, but that doesn’t mean the Saddledome doesn’t have a few new tricks up its sleeve to kick off the 2023-24 hockey season.

While there are some exciting changes and additions to the Flames roster this year, tech is going to be a prevalent player off the ice for hockey fans, from reducing lines at the concession stand to in-game entertainment.

One of the standouts this season is Market 213, located on the concourse near section 213, featuring Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology.

“Fans will scan in using their credit card or mobile wallet, the gates will open and they will be able to shop freely by themselves and once they are done they can just walk out, no transaction necessary,” explained Ziad Mehio, VP food & beverage and information technology at Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation (CSEC).

The aim of the store is to cut down the time it takes for a fan to grab a bite or a beverage and make their way back to their seat.

The Saddledome is one of two arenas in Canada to introduce this concept and it will take its first patrons during Friday night’s preseason game against the Edmonton Oilers.

Another addition for the fan this year is a new mobile app.

It will still boast the typical hallmarks of a sports app like scores, roster updates and stats, but also include new features that will make games extra exciting for fans, both in the stands and at home.

“It’s very personalized for each fan member,” said Mehio. “There will be fan takeover pages, you can customize the logo you put on your phone, you can select custom content you want to see and custom video. I think it’s going to continue to push that fan experience.”

There’s also big plans for the fan experience at the Flames home-opener on Wednesday, October 11 including some custom C of Red wristbands.

“These really neat wristbands light up and every single fan in attendance will get one,” said Geordie Mcleod, VP of marketing at CSEC. “What’s particularly neat about them is they are controllable. So all of our fans who show up to our home opener will be wearing one of these and be part of our show.”

It’s just one of several exciting elements planned for this year’s season debut, and while Mcleod had to keep some of the plans tight-lipped, he did reveal that fans can also expect a live DJ to be performing during the player warm up for every game this season.

“The C of Red is an incredible atmosphere separate of whatever we do, that’s just what our fans bring, but we are trying to make sure we are doing our part to reinforce the energy they bring to every game,” said Mcleod.

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