April 26, 2015

NBA stadium tech reports — NBA East, Central Division

Editor’s note: The following team-by-team capsule reports of NBA stadium technology deployments are an excerpt from our most recent Stadium Tech Report, THE HOOPS AND HOCKEY ISSUE. To get all the capsules in one place as well as our featured reports, interviews and analysis, download your free copy of the full report today.

Reporting by Chris Gallo

NBA EAST: Central Division

Chicago Bulls
United Center
Seating capacity: 20,917
Wi-Fi: Yes
DAS:Yes

The Chicago Bulls are atop the NBA in attendance this season, as the United Center benefits from recent upgrades from AT&T. These upgrades included an estimated 400 Wi-Fi antennas to keep Bulls and Blackhawks fans connected. And recently, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and United Center owners announced construction of a new, standalone office building next to the United Center.

The office building will house Blackhawks and Bulls’ employees, as well being the home for retail stores for both teams and a variety of restaurants. The space will encourage more economic development and be a draw for fans before and after games.

Cleveland Cavaliers
Quicken Loans Arena
Seating capacity: 20,562
Wi-Fi: Yes
DAS:Yes

After welcoming home LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers are working to make the Quicken Loans Arena more social in 2015. The arena partnered with TigerLogic Corp. to install four corner board social media displays. TigerLogic’s Postano Platform shares updates from fans and advanced statistics during games.

The Cavaliers estimate an average of 20,000 posts per game are being shared, and connecting to the system is easier for fans with Verizon Wi-Fi and DAS throughout the arena. Plus, owner Dan Gilbert unveiled a new 5,500-square-foot LED HD scoreboard at the beginning of the season. With one of the best players in the NBA and arena upgrades, no wonder Cleveland’s attendance is up almost 20 percent from last year.

The Palace at Auburn Hills. Credit all photos, Palace at Auburn Hills (click on any photo for a larger image).

The Palace at Auburn Hills. Credit all photos, Palace at Auburn Hills (click on any photo for a larger image).

Detroit Pistons
The Palace of Auburn Hills
Seating capacity: 21,165
Wi-Fi: Yes
DAS:Yes

At a home game in March 2015, lots of Pistons fans found themselves with a dilemma. With the Pistons on the floor and the Michigan Wolverines making a deep NCAA Tournament run, fans wanted to watch both games. No problem, thanks to 238 Wi-Fi access points and DAS throughout The Palace of Auburn Hills. Outfitted by Ericsson, Detroit’s network carried over 450 GB of traffic at the home game last March with fans seamlessly streaming video from their phones. The Pistons also have a mobile app featuring beaconing technology for in-game discounts, a streaming radio broadcast, and digital menu boards. The Palace certainly lives up to its name of royalty when it comes to stadium connectivity.

Indiana Pacers
Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Seating capacity: 18,165
Wi-Fi: Yes, 346 access points
DAS:Yes

Now with a full deployment from SignalShare, Bankers Life Fieldhouse is a clear example of how Wi-Fi can benefit everyone – fans, sponsors, and the franchise. When the Pacers were making another deep playoff run last season, RetailMeNot sponsored the SingalShare Wi-Fi network delivering fans downloadable coupons for a free milkshake at a near by Steak ‘n Shake. A sponsor sees a return on their investments, the Pacers bring in more revenue, and fans feel rewarded for being at the game.

With multiple events hosted at the arena including Disney on Ice, WNBA’s Indiana Fever home games, and the Big 10 women’s and men’s conference basketball tournaments, there’s plenty of fans coming in and out of the arena. The Pacers personnel are able to observe fans’ habits and use that information to make much more relevant offers to them in the future. The team’s official app for both iPhone and Android has also increased in functionality with 346 Wi-Fi access points throughout the arena courtesy of Extricom.

AT&T sees almost double DAS traffic for MLB’s season-opening series

Head-end room cabling at AT&T Park. Credit: AT&T/San Francisco Giants

Head-end room cabling at AT&T Park. Credit: AT&T/San Francisco Giants

According to AT&T, the season-opening series for Major League Baseball saw fans use almost twice as much cellular data as the year before, across the 19 ballparks where AT&T has in-stadium cellular networks in place.

Remember, these numbers represent only cellular traffic and only for AT&T customers on the AT&T stadium-specific networks, which are almost all of the distrubuted antenna system (DAS) type. Though some stadiums saw much more traffic than others, the average series-long total of 215 gigabytes per venue was almost double the same statistic from the 2014 season-opening series, where AT&T saw an average of 111 GB per venue. And if AT&T’s traffic is doubling you can probably safely bet that all other metrics — Wi-Fi, and traffic for other carriers — has increased as well.

Thanks to our friends at AT&T, here is the full list for series-long DAS traffic at MLB venues where AT&T has stadium-specific networks. Stay tuned to MSR for our Q2 Stadium Tech Report later this spring, when we’ll take a team-by-team look at MLB technology deployments, specifically focusing on Wi-Fi and DAS. So far, it looks like fans are already in mid-season selfie form.

OPENING SERIES DAS TOTALS (AT&T customer traffic only, on AT&T stadium-specific networks)

1. Arlington, TX (Rangers): 655GB

2. St. Louis (Cardinals): 466GB

3. Los Angeles (Dodgers): 396GB

4. Atlanta (Braves): 375GB

5. Anaheim (Angels): 270GB

6. Denver (Rockies): 251GB

7. Philadelphia (Phillies): 250GB

8. Chicago (Cubs): 227GB

9. New York (Yankees): 189GB

10. Cincinnati (Reds): 185GB

11. Miami (Marlins): 183GB

12. Boston (Red Sox): 162GB

13. San Francisco (Giants): 158GB

14. Oakland (A’s): 149GB

15. Seattle (Mariners): 139GB

16. Washington, D.C. (Nationals): 132GB

17. Milwaukee (Brewers): 129GB

18. Houston (Astros): 102GB

19. Minnesota (Twins): 86GB

20. Phoenix (Diamondbacks): 85GB

21. New York (Mets): 80GB

22. San Diego (Padres): 58GB

Stadium Tech Professionals: Time to take our 2015 stadium tech survey!

SOS14_thumbIf you are a stadium technology professional working for a school, team or stadium ownership group, it’s that time of year again — we need your participation to make our 2015 State of the Stadium Technology Survey our best yet! Now in its third year of existence, the “State of the Stadium” survey is the only independent, large-public-venue research that charts deployments of stadium technology like Wi-Fi, DAS, Digital Signage and Beaconing, and the use of digital sports marketing tools like CRM and social media. If you are part of a stadium operations group and know the answers, take the 2015 survey right now!

Before I get to a deeper explanation of the survey, a quick story: During last year’s survey season, I called a team IT exec that I knew well and asked why nobody from his organization had taken the survey. “Well, we don’t have Wi-Fi installed yet,” the exec said. “We’ll take the survey next year after it’s deployed.” I didn’t have the heart to say it at the time but — his take was completely the WRONG ANSWER. Why? Because this is an ANONYMOUS, AGGREGATED INFORMATION ONLY survey, which means that answers aren’t tied to any school, team or individual. Just look at last year’s survey to see how the answers are reported. That also means that all answers are completely confidential, and will not be sold, marketed or otherwise communicated in any way, shape or form outside of the ANONYMOUS TOTALS used in the survey report.

So since we’re trying to find out aggregate numbers — not individual details — it’s just as important for all of us to know who doesn’t have Wi-Fi as well as who does. So even if your school or team or stadium doesn’t have Wi-Fi — and may never have Wi-Fi — you should still TAKE THE SURVEY and add your organization’s information to the total. The more answers we get, the better the data are for everyone.

Survey time is time well spent

And that “everyone” thing leads me to my next point: If you’re a regular reader here you can and should consider the few minutes it takes to complete the survey as a small way of “paying back” to the rest of the members of this fine industry, many of whom make time for the interviews, visits and emails that form the core of all the excellent free content available here on the MSR site and through our long-form reports. We know you are busy, and that spending time answering a list of technology questions may not seem like the highest priority on your to-do list. But a little bit of your time can really help us all.

That’s because we also know, from our website statistics and from our report download numbers and just from conversations with many of you, that our audience of stadium technology professionals appreciates the honest, objective stories and analysis we provide. (We humbly thank you for making us a regular reading choice.) And now, by taking the survey, you can help make the site and our work even better, just by adding your team, school or stadium’s technology deployment information into the 2015 State of the Stadium Technology Survey. The more results we get, the better and more informative the survey becomes — and that’s something that’s truly a win-win situation for all involved.

Once again the State of the Stadium Technology Survey will be exclusively delivered first to the attendees of the SEAT Conference, being held this year in our home town of San Francisco, July 19-22. Production of this year’s survey is made possible by the sponsorship of Mobilitie, and through our partnership with the SEAT Consortium, owners and operators of the excellent SEAT event. All those who participate in the survey will receive a full digital copy of the final report, whether you attend the SEAT Conference or not.

Final reminder: This survey is meant to be taken ONLY by stadium technology professionals, executives, and team or school representatives who can accurately describe the deployments in place at their organization. It is NOT a survey to be taken by everyone, only by those who have a deployment to describe. If you have any questions about whether you should take the survey or not, send an email to me at kaps at mobilesportsreport.com. Thanks in advance for your time and participation!

WrestleMania 31 resets Levi’s Stadium Wi-Fi record with 4.5 terabytes of data used

WrestleMania 31 at Levi's Stadium, March 29, 2015. Credit all images: 49ers.com (click on any photo for a larger image)

WrestleMania 31 at Levi’s Stadium, March 29, 2015. Credit all images: 49ers.com (click on any photo for a larger image)

The biggest crowd yet at Levi’s Stadium also reset the venue’s Wi-Fi usage records, as the 76,976 fans at the March 29 WrestleMania 31 event used 4.5 terabytes of data on the in-stadium network, according to representatives from the San Francisco 49ers, the stadium’s owner and operator.

The WrestleMania mark eclipsed the previous Wi-Fi high-water figure of 3.3 TB, recorded during the Niners’ home opener at Levi’s Stadium on Sept. 14, 2014. However, the WWE event’s record should come with a bit of an interesting asterisk, since the Niners said they built a temporary ground-level extension to the Wi-Fi network that was used by approximately 3,700 fans who were sitting in seats on the field, surrounding the WrestleMania stage. The team also put in extra Wi-Fi coverage for the three temporary seating sections that were erected in the Levi’s Stadium southeast plaza, structures that will likely be part of the configuration for Super Bowl 50 next February.

WrestleMania competition

WrestleMania competition

“We considered the event a success from a Wi-Fi standpoint considering the temporary APs served almost 4,000 people and moved a large amount of data,” said Roger Hacker, senior manager, corporate communications for the San Francisco 49ers. “We moved a significant amount of traffic all the while seeing minimal negative comments on social media.”

In a related note, it seems like beefed-up train and bus service from light rail entity VTA kept lines and waits to a minimum, even with a record number of fans also using public transportation to the event. At the very least, the Levi’s Stadium team seems to be back on a positive path after some painful lessons learned during the Feb. 21 Coors Light Stadium Series hockey game. Remember also that WWE did not want in-seat food or merchandise delivery available during the event, which proabably helped make network operations easier.

Under-seat APs and handrail antennas

According to Hacker the field-level network used 76 extra access points, with 69 on the field level itself and seven more on the field-level walls. Hacker said a combination of picocell and handrail enclosures were used for the temporary network, which was necessary since the regular stadium-bowl configuration was never designed to handle traffic for events with fans on the field level.

wm4Hacker also said the temporary network had its own switching infrastructure, with eight portable switching pods connected by both fiber and outdoor Ethernet cabling. The results from the WrestleMania event, Hacker said, will help the Niners and Levi’s Stadium staff prepare for future events with on-field seating, like the concerts scheduled for later this spring and summer.

The Niners said their goal with the WrestleMania temporary network “experiment” (which they believe to be the first ever done for a large outdoor event) was to see whether the Levi’s Stadium under-seat design could be extended to the field for temporary events “in a cost-effective, safe and repeatable manner. From what we experienced with WrestleMania 31, every indication is that we will be able to do that.”

Some more network stats from the WrestleMania 31 event:

– The peak concurrent user mark was 14,800 on the Wi-Fi network at around 8:10 p.m.

– The Wi-Fi network carried 1.61 Gbps of average continuous bandwidth from 2:20 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., also a new stadium record

– The peak bandwidth usage was 2.474 Gbps at 7:10 p.m.

– Usage on the Levi’s Stadium DAS network was not reported.

Overhead shot of Levi's Stadium during WrestleMania 31, showing on-field seating

Overhead shot of Levi’s Stadium during WrestleMania 31, showing on-field seating

NBA stadium tech reports — NBA East, Atlantic Division

Editor’s note: The following team-by-team capsule reports of NBA stadium technology deployments are an excerpt from our most recent Stadium Tech Report, THE HOOPS AND HOCKEY ISSUE. To get all the capsules in one place as well as our featured reports, interviews and analysis, download your free copy of the full report today.

Reporting by Chris Gallo

NBA EAST: Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics
TD Bank Garden
Seating capacity: 18,624
Wi-Fi: Yes DAS:Yes

The “new” TD Garden unveiled the first signs of a 2-year $70 million renovation project this past fall. Renovations include new concessions, touch-screen directory displays on the concourses, and Cisco’s Connected Stadium Wi-Fi and StadiumVision for digital displays. As TD Garden turns 20 years old, it’s maturing to connect fans better than ever before.

The Celtics are co-tenants with the Boston Bruins, and the two storied franchises share over 400 Wi-Fi antennas throughout the Garden. The Bruins are even placing Wi-Fi hot spots in the boards around the ice during hockey games. And Celtics and Bruins fans can easily find food and beverage locations using the TD Garden app. Phase II of the renovation will tip off this summer.

Screen shot 2015-04-14 at 9.41.05 AM
Brooklyn Nets
Barclays Center
Seating capacity: 17,732
Wi-Fi: Yes DAS: Yes

With rumors swirling that majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov plans to sell the team, the Brooklyn Nets still call one of the most connected arenas in all of sports home. With Wi-Fi, DAS, and Cisco’s StadiumVision products (including StadiumVision Mobile, which brings live action to handheld devices), Nets fans are already well connected at home games.

This season Brooklyn is bringing fans even closer, as the Barclays Center is one the first NBA arenas to experiment with beaconing technology. The Barclays Center is using beacons to communicate and keep fans engaged at all times. For example, as fans enter the arena, the beacons can alert them of seat upgrades at discounted rates. In its third year of existence, the Barclays Center continues to make noise in stadium technology.

New York Knicks
Madison Square Garden
Seating capacity: 19,812
Wi-Fi: Yes DAS: Yes

Despite only turning in nine wins by the end of January, the New York Knicks still ranked in the top five in attendance in the NBA. A big reason why is the Knicks’ legendary home, Madison Square Garden. The second oldest arena in basketball knows its will always be an attraction for fans. And fresh off a $1 billion dollar renovation that boosted LTE-DAS and Wi-Fi access, Madison Square Garden was again in the national spotlight, hosting this year’s 64th NBA All-Star Game.

Philadelphia 76ers
Wells Fargo Center
Seating capacity: 20,328
Wi-Fi: Yes DAS: Yes

Entering its 19th year, the Wells Fargo Center is prepared to make renovations to keep Sixers’ and Flyers’ fans happy. As the majority owner of the franchise, Comcast is slated to release boosted Xfinity Wi-Fi signals and hot spots throughout the arena in 2015. More improvements that include a refresh of club and suite levels, and wider concourses are rumored for 2016.

Toronto Raptors
Air Canada Centre
Seating capacity: 19,800
Wi-Fi: Yes DAS: Yes

After being selected to host the 2016 NBA All-Star Game, Air Canada Centre is on tap to get more renovations. Tim Leiweke, president and CEO of the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. group, estimates to spend around $40 million to enhance the Raptors’ and Maple Leafs’ home arena. Upgrades to both Wi-Fi and DAS, plus the third scoreboard since the arena has opened in 1999, are listed as major enhancements. With the Raptors on pace to make the playoffs for the second consecutive year, the improvements will be welcomed.

Time for The Masters — the best digital experience in sports

Gary Player (R) congratulates Jack Nicklaus after Nicklaus' hole in one (Sam Greenwood/Augusta National)

Gary Player (R) congratulates Jack Nicklaus after Nicklaus’ hole in one (Sam Greenwood/Augusta National)

There’s no small bit of irony in the fact that The Masters, one of the few places left on earth where you absolutely cannot carry a working cell phone, offers perhaps the best digital experience in all of sports. I’m biased, because I like golf and like the tradition and history of the Masters competition, but I would challenge you to find another event, team or league that offers the breadth and depth of the online/mobile experience brought forth by The Masters, CBS and IBM.

With live competition beginning Thursday morning, I’m not worried that I won’t be next to a TV set for the excellent, mostly commercial-free broadcast (Thursday-Friday on ESPN, Saturday-Sunday on CBS). That’s because if I am online or on my phone I will have access to no fewer than five different live feeds from Augusta, including featured groups as well as focused coverage on “Amen Corner,” the classic stretch between the 11th and 13th holes of the famed Augusta National course.

What makes the online and mobile experience so good? Production that parallels the TV broadcast, for one. No need for cable contract authorization, for another. That The Masters is like Harvard with its endowments — and as such doesn’t need to pander to advertisers — is nirvana for all golf fans, but especially so for those of us who watch a lot of sports action these days online. While TV commercials are easily endured (or muted, or skipped) it seems of late that broadcasters are doing their best to reclaim eyeball turf online, by subjecting digital viewers to more and more invasive ads.

During the recent NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament there was a lot of praise for the online product, but nowhere did I see anyone report the fact we found out — that when you were watching online or on your phone, during commercials the Turner/NCAA folks kindly blocked your ability to mute the sound on the screen controls. On my phone during the great regional game between Kentucky and Notre Dame I also saw a small button with a Pizza Hut logo remain on the left side of the screen during play. You would never try that on a broadcast offering, but for many events it seems OK to smack the online viewers around for any profit possible.

During the Masters, that’s not happening. (Or at least it didn’t last year! Hope I’m not jinxing things.)

Anyway — when play starts Thursday just go to Masters.com or download the app, watch away and see if you don’t agree. If there’s another online experience that’s better, I’d like to hear about it.

BONUS: Watch the Golden Bear back one up for a hole in one during the par 3 contest.