ALSD Spotlight Returns in 2020 to Shine a Light on Industry Innovation

The ALSD’s annual design contest is back this year with new opportunities for the sports and entertainment venue community’s designers, builders, and premium providers to showcase their best work.

Creative minds in the sports and entertainment venue marketplace continue to whiz past design milestones and push premium experiences into the future. ALSD Spotlight, the association’s annual design contest, again has the honor this year of highlighting these best accomplishments of our industry’s architects, food and beverage providers, venue operators, vendors, and suppliers.

Revitalized for 2020, ALSD Spotlight is issuing an open call for entries in eleven categories, ranging from Suites, to Audio-Visual Enhancements, to Premium Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment, to Overall Architecture. Award recipients will be recognized at the 30th Annual ALSD Conference and Tradeshow, while all entrants will be featured in other ALSD publications.

But Spotlight is more than just a conference ceremony or pubilicity opportunity. It serves to catalog the industry’s broad swath of projects throughout the entire year, available for reference to those teams, venues, and their partners when developing the next round of innovations and improvements.

“The more informed you are, the better chance you’re going to have of getting it right,” said Russ Simons, Chief Listening Officer and Managing Partner at Venue Solutions Group and 2019 Spotlight Judge. “And we have now, through Spotlight, this entire institutional body. I look at it like Wikipedia for trends in business and how to be thinking about pulling together a wide variety of things.”

As the entire industry catapults itself deeper into the experience economy, ALSD Spotlight recognizes many types of projects and experiential spaces from across all leagues and venue types. Stadiums, arenas, ballparks, major league and minor league venues, college athletics, performing arts and music facilities, and even esports venues have all participated in previous years. In 2020, the ALSD is digging even deeper into the details that vendors, suppliers, and F&B companies offer with categories like Premium Gift, Food & Beverage Menu Item, and Premium Experience or Event.

Sponsorship Activation is another standout category for 2020, as integrating sponsors continues to be an important, but delicate, consideration for many projects. How venues best tell a brand’s story while seamlessly integrating it into a larger experience, how teams keep a partner’s contribution top-of-mind while maintaining the integrity of a core product, how sponsors create engaging environments woven natively into the venue to maximize return on investment are all revealed through ALSD Spotlight.

“I look at it like Wikipedia for trends in business and how to be thinking about pulling together a wide variety of things.”

– Russ Simons, 2019 ALSD Spotlight Judge

All of us in sports are in the business of emotion, and emotion is evoked by the union of function and form. The elements of design and narrative work together to impact clients, which is why Spotlight entrants are encouraged to share their stories through a combination of photos, videos, descriptions, and press releases. Our judges pay close attention to these stories, taking care to view every project through a contextual lens.

“It reminded me a little bit of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” said Annemarie Hastings, Executive Vice President at Fund Raisers Sports and 2019 Spotlight Judge, after reviewing last year’s entries. “It’s all about exclusive access. Those spaces I saw in reviewing all of the submissions felt exclusive. They oozed glamour or history.”

“We’re really talking about the best of the best,” added Simons. “That’s something for ALSD and all of our membership to be proud of.”

The ALSD does not emphasize individual honors or host on an awards-heavy conference. Aside from our Visionary Award, Spotlight represents the only batch of trophies we hand out each year. Their scarcity makes these awards even more meaningful to our membership, so honoring standouts must be done with care.

“There aren’t a million awards going on at the conference,” said Hastings, “so it feels important, yet collaborative, because you’re sharing it with your colleagues. It’s never just one person behind that award. It is really the culmination of so many people’s work together.”

Are you interested in submitting your venue project to ALSD Spotlight 2020?
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