Sports

New Interactive Features and Media Attempt to Enhance the Loyola Basketball Game Day Experience

Zack Miller | The PhoenixAs Loyola made its way from an unofficial No. 27 to No. 22 in the AP Top 25 Poll, Rambler fans were following closely along.

Fans who’ve attended basketball games at Gentile Arena this season may have noticed students participating in light shows and trivia contests. The new interactive features are made possible through the GoRambers app and CUE Audio technology. 

The GoRamblers app, available for iPhone and Android that includes a variety of content centered around Rambler sports. The app was originally released early 2021 and features sports schedules, sports news and competition coverage for all Loyola sports. 

Recently, the app has been updated with two interactive features for home basketball games — a light show that runs during the Ramblers starting line-up and a trivia contest that fans can participate in during halftime. The technology behind the audience-aimed features comed from a company called CUE Audio. 

According to Loyola’s Assistant Athletic Director, Brian Day, who works in tickets and marketing, Loyola first came across the CUE Audio company during the pandemic when fans weren’t allowed inside Gentile. Day said Loyola wanted to find a way to keep Rambler fans engaged while at home. 

Adding CUE’s features to the GoRamblers app provided a method for fans to remain involved.

“[While watching on TV] you would see the intro video on your phone,” said Day. “Then during certain timeouts, you can play different trivia during the game.”

The CUE Audio company began in 2017. According to CUE Audio’s website, the company works with teams in the NCAA, NFL and NBA to increase fan engagement through its unique audio technology.

“[Founded] with the goal of providing an offline, network-free communications protocol using high-frequency, ultrasonic audio as an alternative to WiFi, cell service, and Bluetooth for short-range communications,” the website said. 

According to co-founder Ira Akers, CUE’s technology works through an “acoustic modem.” To send data through sound waves, CUE puts “inaudible triggers” over audios played when the interactive features are to be used. These “triggers” then signal the app and sync devices throughout the venue. 

While the original intent of Loyola adding CUE is no longer there, with fans back in the stands, CUE is able to be used for its intended purpose and it is still important to keep the games engaging, Day said. 

“Our focus, especially over the last couple of years, has been to be the most fun, engaging college basketball game experience in the conference [and] in the city,” said Day. “What we want to do is try to keep the experience fresh, so we are very intentional about not just having the same thing at every game or the same thing year to year.”

With the basketball season underway, some new additions to the game day experience for men’s games include the “under four minutes left” video played during the final timeout and the team throwing out Rambler t-shirts at the end of the game. These additions and the interactive light show and the trivia contest have been a part of five home basketball game day experiences. 

While there is no official way to calculate how many fans partake in the interactive experiences, Day said that with every game, he’s confident more people will catch on and learn how to use the app. 

After attending the men’s basketball team’s 89-77 win against Florida Gulf Coast University Nov. 13, first-years Ellie Cloe and Emma Eppinghoff were among those who didn’t know about the GoRamblers app in time to participate in the light show. Cloe and Eppinghoff also agreed that the light show was a bit of a let down. 

“I expected a lot more,” said Eppinghoff. “It’s cool technology, but overall, [my reaction was] ‘oh ok.’”

The trivia contest, on the other hand, was a big hit in Cloa and Eppinghoff’s opinions. They said the trivia was simpler and more fun.

“The trivia was cool,” said Cloe. “It was hard trivia [questions], but it was easy to do.” 

According to Cloe and Eppinghoff, the trivia was the clear winner between the light show and the trivia contest. Day, however, said he hopes eventually the entire stadium will light up during pregame as the season moves forward and more people become familiar with the GoRamblers app — specifically during conference games and later into the season. 

As for future methods of fan engagement, Day said he doesn’t know what will come next but knows that whatever happens, the goal is always to keep the fans engaged and to try new things.

“We’re going to constantly try to make the games as fun as possible,” said Day. “We’re definitely not going to be satisfied with staying status quo [and] we’re always going to be looking to do more and make them more engaging.”

The next game for men’s basketball is Dec. 1 against Indiana State University at 7 p.m. The game will take place in Gentile Arena and is set to be broadcasted on NBC Sports Chicago. 

The next home game for the women’s team is Dec. 8 against Eastern Illinois University. The game is set to start at 7 p.m. and broadcast on ESPN 3.

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