As fall approaches, with it comes the start of a new school year, the changing of leaves and brand-new football, basketball and hockey seasons. While the school year and leaves changing are inevitable, attending your favorite teams’ games is not.
Sports fans have a big decision to make. Do they watch games in the comfort of their homes, where Wi-Fi access, video replays and refreshments are easily accessible? Or, do they take in the event in person, where they might give up some creature comforts but are fully immersed in the experience?
As more venues deploy and upgrade wireless networks to better connect fans, players, operations and staff, the at-home experience doesn’t seem as beneficial as it once did. Specialized high-density Wi-Fi solutions now enhance the thrill of the game-day experience for fans by supporting streaming video, social networking and customized mobile apps that increase engagement and interaction, bringing some of the comforts of home to the stadium.
For the athletes, Wi-Fi supports the use of wearable devices, virtual reality, analytics and digital playbooks that help players fine-tune their performance and prevent injuries. For the back office, the network serves as the plumbing that supports mobile point-of-sale solutions and digital signage that drive concession and apparel sales.
While preparing to host the 49th Super Bowl last year, the Arizona Cardinals upgraded University of Phoenix Stadium with state-of-the-art networking, computing and wireless technology. Such IT advances help stadiums fill seats and better serve fans, notes Mark Feller, vice president of technology for the Cardinals.
“We know that if people are enjoying themselves, and they have all the advantages of home, they’re going to have more fun at the stadium,” Feller says.
Cleveland Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam also sought to bring a robust network to FirstEnergy Stadium. “We are fully committed to providing our fans the best possible experience,” they said recently.
CDW conducted a site survey, and the Browns ultimately selected Cisco Systems’ Connected Stadium Solution, which entailed installing 1,040 Cisco access points and Cisco ASA switches throughout the stadium. Now members of the Dawg Pound enjoy reliable connections for viewing instant replays, consulting stats, checking fantasy football rankings and posting updates to social media. For more details about the Cleveland Browns Wi-Fi rollout and stadium revamp, check out our story, "How the Cleveland Browns Made Their Wi-Fi Network Ready for Game Day."
On any given Sunday, today’s stadiums pulse with passionate fans eager to interact and engage with one another, their teams and those watching at home. Technology is now giving them that option.