SAINT JOHN– The Saint John Sea Dogs have teamed up with professional services firm Deloitte to bring the hockey game experience to a new level.
On Wednesday the two organizations announced the opening of the Sea Dogs’ “Discovery Zone.” Located on the west-end of Saint John’s Harbour Station, the Discovery Zone is an interactive space featuring technologies such as robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual and Augmented reality experiences for game attendees.
Use of the Discovery Zone will be free to game attendees age 16 and over. The Discovery Zone is the first public one and the first in a sports centre.
Mark-Anthony Ashfield, a partner at Deloitte, says the company has Discovery Zones throughout Canada, but this will be the first public one, as well the first one inside a sports facility.
“[Discovery Zones] are typically internal to our firm we have in our offices. We have ones that are ‘pop-up’ and they take them out into the public,” says Ashfield. “But this is a permanent public facility and it’s accessible free of charge for anyone who wants to come in.”
He says the reason why the Deloitte decided to expand into sports is that like every other industry, this new technology will disrupt hockey too. Not just for fan engagement, which is what the Discovery Zone aims to do, but on the rink as well.
Take a look inside the new Discovery Zone below:
“You can look at player performance enhancement, you can look at safety, looking at biometrics and statistics on players and their health,” says Ashfield. “We’re looking at doing a lot of baseline testing to see how athletes are performing versus their base-line … We’ve been doing that in a bunch of other industries … and we’re seeing some parallels with what we’re seeing in other industries as an opportunity to bring that into sports.
“At this stage we’re at the exploratory phase, seeing what are the big issues that hockey specifically are trying to solve and is there a way technology can help solve some of those issues.”
Saint John Seadogs president and general manager Trevor Georgie says the team’s partnership with Deloitte is part of the team’s overall mission of being strong both on and off the ice.
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“‘It’s very clear here at the Saint John SeaDogs, ‘this is how things have always been done’ is not a strategy,” says Georgie. “For those who have it as a strategy, it is an unsuccessful strategy. For us, this is about striving to be excellent.”
He says this is just the beginning of the team using this new technology.
“This is phase one. We want to look at how we can help make better hockey decisions using this technology,” says Georgie. “In terms of scouting, drafting, player performance. So this is phase one, fan experience, and we plan to take it much further over the coming years.”
The Deloitte Discovery Zone will be open to fans at the Sea Dogs game this Saturday at Harbour Station.