Mega sports events have not only increasingly gained media attention in recent years, but they have also led to a huge number of on-site visitors in the host countries and cities. Since the number of event tickets is limited, the organisation of fan zones where thousands of people can, for example, watch football matches on giant screens has become more important. Fan zones and public viewings are increasingly developing into an integral part of mega (sports) events. As a consequence, the visitors' expectations of public viewings are also on the rise, resulting in challenges in organising mega events, not least because knowledge is still rather limited as regards the key success factors for public viewings. Until now, little research has been conducted on fan zones and public viewings covering mega events, whereas research on service quality factors and the assessment of spectator satisfaction with respect to major sports events has been carried out on occasion. In an attempt to close this knowledge gap, the paper in hand focuses on the following research question: "What are the key success factors when organizing fan zones for mega sports events?" The paper presents findings based on the case of the UEFA European Championship (UEFA EURO).
The UEFA EURO is a football competition held every four years featuring national teams from European countries. The UEFA EURO 2008TM Austria / Switzerland was the second tournament to be hosted by two countries after the UEFA EURO 2000TM in Belgium / Netherlands. From 6-29 June 2008, 16 international teams participated in the UEFA EURO 2008TM in eight cities. Over 1.1 million spectators attended 31 matches during the entire period in Austria and Switzerland (Preuss, Siller, Zehrer, Schütte & Stickdorn, 2010).
To answer the proposed research question, the paper reports on a quantitative study of 8,093 questionnaire-based interviews with event visitors during the UEFA EURO 2008TM (n=8,093), as well as two post-event studies with event managers: A quantitative online survey with event managers in different positions (n=25) and five in-depth, semi-structured interviews with senior UEFA EURO 2008TM coordinators.
Football mega events
Since the 1980s, mega events started to trigger interest as a research topic, especially in the field of tourism and leisure research (Hall, 1992, 1989; Getz, 1991; Burns, Hatch & Mules, 1986; Ritchie, 1984). With regard to mega football events, extensive studies were carried out on the FIFA World Cups 2002 and 2006 (Rahman, 1998; Horne & Manzenreiter, 2002; Lee & Taylor, 2005; Kurscheidt, 2006; Heyne, Maennig & Süßmuth, 2007; Preuss, Kurscheidt & Schütte, 2009) and on the UEFA EURO 2004 and 2008 (Marivoet, 2006; Moesch & Mueller, 2007; Helmenstein, Kleissner & Moser, 2007; Preuss, Siller, Zehrer, Schütte & Stickdorn, 2010; Müller, Rütter, Stettler, 2010). Looking at the different definitions and approaches (Ritchie, 1984; Getz, 1998; Roche, 2000; Roberts, 2004; Kurscheidt, 2008; Kaspar & Schnitzer, 2011), the authors define the UEFA EURO 2008TM as a typical mega event. The event was not only big in terms of on-site spectators, but also in terms of TV audiences (UEFA EURO 2008TM Marketing Review, 2009, 269) with a particularly strong economic and social impact in their host countries and beyond, such as infrastructural developments and vast media attention (Preuss, Siller, Zehrer, Schütte & Stickdorn, 2010; Müller, Rütter & Stettler, 2010).
Spectators' perception of sports events
Scholarly literature widely discusses what drives people to attend sports events and proposes models to investigate factors influencing attendance (Pan, Zhu, Gabert & Brown, 1999; Laverie & Anrett, 2000). Dale, van Iwaarden, van der Wiele & Williams (2005) discuss factors that influence the attendance of fans at games (Arnold, 1991; Knowles, Sherony & Haupert, 1992) and their behaviours / attitudes (Bristow & Sebastian, 2001). …