Sta­di­ums get smart

Why your phone will keep you en­gaged at the footy

The Australian - The Deal - - Firts up - Mar­ket­ing An­drew Bax­ter

WHEN for­mer Par­ra­matta rugby league star Jar­ryd Hayne runs onto the field for the San Fran­cisco 49ers later this year he will be play­ing at one of the world’s most so­phis­ti­cated sta­di­ums. Opened last year, the new Levi’s Sta­dium, the home ground of the 49ers foot­ball team, has be­come a bench­mark for com­mu­ni­cat­ing with fans. Some of the best minds and com­pa­nies from nearby Sil­i­con Val­ley col­lab­o­rated in the de­sign to de­liver the best Wi-Fi and tech­nol­ogy in­fra­struc­ture, and de­velop the ul­ti­mate fan ex­pe­ri­ence via the smart­phone.

Mar­keters at sports venues around the world are slowly re­al­is­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ties and ex­pec­ta­tions of fans with smartphones. They re­alise the fan ex­pe­ri­ence is as much in the hand as it is on the field and the con­course. Not only do fans want to share their ex­pe­ri­ences so­cially, but they also want to see re­plays and statis­tics when­ever they want. Fans are start­ing to align what they do with their smartphones in day-to-day life, and won­der why sta­di­ums aren’t keep­ing up. With a smart­phone they can pre-or­der some­thing, have it de­liv­ered to them or pick it up, and pay with the near-field com­mu­ni­ca­tion chip in their phone. They can pro­vide in­stant feed­back, use maps and re­deem coupons, but they don’t want to flick be­tween mul­ti­ple apps to get the in­for­ma­tion they want.

When smartphones first hit the mar­ket in 2007, the big­gest is­sue in­side sports venues was the lack of band­width in the 3G net­work to cope with peo­ple want­ing to upload on so­cial me­dia and ac­cess other re­lated apps. The ar­rival of 4G helped, as did telcos boost­ing ca­pac­ity around venues, but it’s still of­ten a strug­gle to ac­cess your telco’s net­work when there are 70,000-plus fans in a sta­dium.

Step one for venues has been to in­stall Wi-Fi to con­trol their own des­tiny. Flem­ing­ton Race­course was one of the first in Australia, an­nounc­ing in late 2012 that Cisco would in­stall its Con­nected Sta­dium So­lu­tion in time for the fol­low­ing year’s Spring Car­ni­val. Not only was it im­por­tant for Flem­ing­ton to be a first mover due to the so­cial na­ture of its

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