Stadiums of the Future
Attending the home game of your favorite football team isn’t what it used to be, it’s better. From pre-game entertainment and tail-gating to post-game analysis, fans are engrossed in a completely immersive and interactive experience that combines the comforts of home viewing with the real life sights, sounds and hard-hitting action of the live game.
It’s what fans are demanding and stadiums are striving to deliver. Stadiums that manage connectivity well – that have good coverage, and skillfully manage high-volume capacity are called Smart Stadiums, Digital Stadiums, Connected Stadiums or some other equally tech-savvy moniker. According to RootMetrics’ mobile network comparison, some of the most well-connected NFL stadiums include Levi’s Stadium – Santa Clara, CA, Bank of America Stadium – Charlotte, NC and Arrowhead Stadium – Kansas City, MO.
Want to park closer to your seating assignment? Use a smartphone app to find the closest gate. Hungry during the third quarter? Connect to stadium food vendors that deliver your cold beer and hot pizza right to your seat. Missed a play? No worries, you can watch streaming video replay on your smartphone or tablet. Fans are also sharing photos and videos to social media, keeping track of family members throughout the facility and texting friends for post-game plans. Rabid fantasy football fans following their fantasy team stats between in-stadium plays on the field want to be always connected. That demands continuous connectivity.
Updating Stadium Technology
Although Smart Stadiums are what fans dream about, the reality is that many stadiums still struggle with improving wireless voice and data communications. Carriers like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint regularly maintain and update their mobile networks to provide the best service possible, but stadiums can be tricky when it comes to coverage and capacity.
To optimize the in-stadium fan experience, most stadiums are installing distributed antenna systems (DAS) to augment carrier coverage and capacity. Sophisticated electronics and distributed antennas, connected together via fiber optic or coax cabling, split and amplify the wireless signal, enabling wider coverage within the structure and adding a layer of coverage and capacity that nearby cell towers just can’t accomplish.
Monitoring and maintaining the DAS after installation is equally critical to ongoing connectivity. Game day can be unpredictable. Exceptionally large crowds for special events like playoffs and even the Super Bowl can significantly compromise network capacity. Power fluctuations, equipment temperature stress, concentrated capacity swings and even weather can complicate system performance. System monitoring and remote access capabilities can quickly identify and remedy issues before they grow into customer complaints, tainting the fan experience and resulting in lost revenue.
Behind the Scrimmage Line
Football fans who root for teams playing in Connected Stadiums already reap the benefits of an immersive, fully connected experience, but what about those teams whose stadiums aren’t yet optimized? Don’t worry, your Stadium of the Future isn’t too far away. In 2012, the NFL recognized the importance of giving fans what they want and recommended connectivity standards to ensure all fans can get – and stay – connected. Stadiums across the league are working hard to meet the suggested standards. Just this month the Detroit Free Press reported that Ford Field, ranked dead last by Rootmetrics in mobile network performance, is under taking a multi-million dollar Wi-Fi and cellular upgrade. Soon, the Detroit Lions will be able to offer a technology enhanced experience for their fans. Continuous connectivity. Now, that’s something everyone can cheer for.