HOW SMART, DIGITAL STADIUMS ARE CHANGING THE WAY WE WATCH SPORTS

There’s nothing quite like attending a major sports event in person. The sights and sounds from the field, the roar of the crowd, and the raw excitement of cheering for your team along with 40,000 or more of your “closest friends” is a unique experience.

But as today’s sports fans are streaming into stadiums with smartphones, that live experience is evolving. Today’s fans fully expect technology to enrich on game days. And in response, the organizers of major sporting events and owners of sporting venues are turning to new cloud, mobile and analytics technologies to deliver a great fan experience.

Imagine that in the not-too-distant future, the following will be possible:

  • When you arrive at the stadium, a mobile app guides you to the closest available parking.
  • During the action on the field, you have access to instant replays, alternate views, and close-up videos.
  • Via your mobile device, you can order food and beverages, and have them delivered to your seat, never missing a play by avoiding a trip to the concessions.
  • Your smartphone tells you where the closest rest room with the shortest line is located.
  • As you prepare to depart the stadium after the game, the app provides traffic information and suggests the fastest route home.

This melding of the live and digital sporting experience is already becoming a reality in stadiums and arenas around the world.

For example:

At the US Open, fans gain a whole new level of insight about live match play from their mobile devices, including analysis of ball and player movement throughout each game. Analyzing where a ball lands, along with how far a player runs in a given match, offers a new dimension to match analysis, uncovering patterns and insights into player performance and dynamics that ultimately impact the outcome of a match.

Advanced analytics at the US Open also provides those deeper match insights while cloud technology designed for continuous availability and enormous scalability manages spikes in online activity. Analytics technologies also forecast Internet traffic and cloud storage technologies manage terabytes of data and scale dynamically so that fans can always have updates, schedules, videos and social media streams available.

And slated to open in 2017, the new home of the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons —  Atlanta Stadium — will provide a game-changing fan experience, with new technology embedded throughout the venue. A 360-degree, 63,000-square foot HD Video Halo Board surrounding the stadium and more than 2,000 video displays will bring fans closer to the action than ever before. In addition to making the game experience more enjoyable, this new stadium technology provides the venue operators will greater control on everything from energy efficiency to security.

For Atlanta Stadium, supporting the fan experience is a “smarter stadium” system including an advanced fiber-based optical network and distributed antenna system to ensure connectivity for fast, reliable WiFi, video displays and digital signage. That network backbone also supports operational systems for the venue, such as physical security capabilities including traffic management, cameras, managed doors and video intercom systems.

Of course making those experiences a reality requires more than dazzling displays and flashy apps. Those things are a lot like an iceberg – what you see is only a very small portion of the whole, as these applications require sophisticated technology and robust infrastructure to make sure they work.

For centuries, fans have flocked to stadiums and arenas to share in a communal experience of cheering for their sporting champions. Now, new mobile, cloud and analytics technologies are enriching and expanding that experience in ways that couldn’t even be imagined just a few years ago.