With an assist from Sony, the English champions’ Etihad Stadium will become the first soccer venue in the metaverse. And it won’t be the last.
As defending league champions and its current leaders through 26 games played, Manchester City is at the front of the Premier League pack as far as the on-field product is concerned. But with the help of Sony, they’re about to claim first place position in an entirely different category.
Much like an increasing number of sporting organizations, including the reigning World Series champion Atlanta Braves, the sky blue side of Manchester seeks to share the fan experience at Etihad Stadium with new and emerging audiences — particularly those who aren’t likely to get the chance to witness a match live and in person.
The deal with Sony is reported to be for three years, and representatives of the tech giant are understood to be hard at work digitally mapping every corner of Etihad Stadium for the purposes of reproducing it fully and faithfully in virtual worlds that fans’ digital avatars will have an opportunity to populate.
It’s a bold step into what is largely unclaimed territory for the world’s most popular sport. But Man City are clearly betting on this paradigm shift for fan engagement will soon become as normal as a pint and a pie at halftime.
The project is admittedly still in its early stages. But we’re past the point of being able to suggest in any way that the combined powers of Web3, XR, and gamification constitute some sort of flash in the pan for the modern sports fan. Rather, we’re witnessing a revolution of not just gameday experience, but what it fundamentally means to be a sports fan.
And when that day comes, we might just look back and acknowledge that the club long known as the “Noisy Neighbors” was the one that set the standard.