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Mexican Soccer Fans Access, Share Team Content via Bluetooth Low Energy Solution

Club Necaxa, and the Estadio Victoria stadium where the team plays, are sharing content, as well as offering promotions and discounts from sponsors and local businesses, via a BLE-based solution from startup Be Free.
By Claire Swedberg
Tags: BLE, Retail
Oct 24, 2017

The Estadio Victoria stadium, in Aguascalientes, Mexico, and the Club Necaxa soccer team that plays there, are sharing content about games, players and sponsors with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)-based technology and an app from Be Free Solutions. The Mexican BLE digital marketing platform startup is now in discussions with other Mexican teams, as well as companies in Texas, to make the app available for them as well.

The beacon-based system enables Club Necaxa to share information with fans while they are at the stadium, based on their location, and to store and share that data with others who may not be onsite, using the Be Free MX app. The stadium and club can then use that information to engage with fans in the future.

Be Free Solutions, founded this year, is a beacon technology spinoff of RFID company Tecnologias GC. The company was founded to meet a technology need in Mexico for beacon-based solutions that were lower in cost than RIFD installations and relatively easy to launch, with the use of an app rather than an integrated software platform that might be required for an RFID system. The Estadio Victoria deployment is its first application.

Estadio Victoria has a capacity of 25,851 seats and is mainly used for soccer games. To engage with ticket holders, the stadium and team traditionally printed fliers that listed information about the team, along with any coupons or promotional offers from businesses selling merchandise, food or drinks at the venue, as well as from sponsors. However, the fliers gained little traction from fans and created additional garbage that then had to be cleaned up after games, explains Luis Angel Gonzalez Villa, Tecnologicas GC's CEO and Be Free Solutions' CTO. (Full disclosure: Gonzalez Villa translates articles into Spanish for RFID Journal.)

In recent years, Club Necaxa, a first-division professional team, has been trying to further improve communication with its fans, following leadership changes. The team moved to Aguascalientes 16 years ago, and has had a new owner since 2014. The team has been signaling a "new era" for the team since that time in order to grow support, especially for its Aguacalientes location. "We have made big progress in this matter, but we still have a long way to go," says Jaime González Lobo, the team's COO. Now, he says, with the latest generation of soccer enthusiasts, fans think of Club Necaxa as the local Aguascalientes team. The effort, he adds, has been to build on that increasing support.

Be Free Solutions is providing a system that eliminates manual paper-based methods and furthers engagement, the company reports. It installed 40 beacons from BlueUp around the stadium's exterior and interior and offered the firm's Be Free app.

There are two ways for fans to use the system: either with or without the app. Upon arriving at the stadium, each visitor is instructed by signage to turn on the Bluetooth functionality in his or her smartphone. Even without an app, the phone then receives beacon transmissions and can access data relevant to that person's location. In the parking lot, the fan can receive alerts regarding the time of games and the team lineup. Then, once the match has begun, he or she can receive notifications about a drop in ticket pricing, for instance.

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