Can Stadiums Replace Fans With Cardboard Cutouts and Avatars?

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    A new article on The Hustle tries to explain why sports stadiums are suddenly full of fans made out of cardboard: Back in March, a German filmmaker and soccer aficionado named Ingo Müller was sitting at home, complaining to his wife about not being able to attend the matches of his favorite club team, Borussia Mönchengladbach. “She said, ‘If you’re really pissed about not going to the stadium, just take a photo and send it there,'” Müller tells The Hustle. So Müller contacted a local printer and a team to build a portal where fans could upload photos of themselves. For a sum of €19 ($21 USD), he’d print out each photo on a cardboard cutout and install it in the stadium, with the permission of club owners. Originally, he anticipated between 500 and 2k orders. So far, 21k+ people have purchased a cutout. All the proceeds go back to charities associated with the team, including a portion to fans impacted by the pandemic. Now, Müller has received inquiries from sports teams in “at least 15 countries,” including Sweden, Colombia, China, Russia, Serbia, and Austria, about setting up their own cardboard fan project. He’s even decided to apply for a Guinness World Record. And Müller isn’t the only one tapping into the trend. Cardboard fans are lining the stands at baseball games in Taiwan and South Korea, and soccer matches all over Europe. Shaquille O’Neal’s cardboard likeness even turned up for a soccer match in Northampton, England. At least 8 Premiere League teams have been in talks to fill their stands with cutouts. Turkish soccer clubs are trying a model with two price tiers: 123 liras ($18) for season ticket holders and 149 liras ($22) for regular fans… For sports teams trying to recoup ticket revenue, cardboard fans aren’t the only idea in the mix. Using AR, an Iceland-based company, OzSports, is trying to project avatars of fans into seats. In Denmark, one team brought 10k fans into its stadium with Zoom. In South Korea, a soccer team filled its fan seats with actual sex dolls — a move that earned them widespread criticism and an ~$81k fine. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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