July 1, 2016

Virtual Reality and sports stadiums: What will fans see?

Why are stadiums testing out virtual reality (VR) technology for fans, and what is the goal of giving event attendees a “virtual” experience to go along with the one they’re getting in person? Episode 6 of the Stadium Tech Report Podcast takes a look at VR use in stadiums, with hosts Phil Harvey and Paul Kapustka breaking down the reasons behind the trials, and whether or not VR will succeed or flop in stadium situations. Listen now!

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Golden State Warriors’ Wi-Fi network lease part of planned SignalShare assets auction

Screen shot of nGage Fan Feed. Credit: SignalShare

Screen shot of nGage Fan Feed. Credit: SignalShare

The contract covering the operation of the Wi-Fi network at the Golden State Warriors’ Oracle Arena is up for auction, as part of the fallout from a lawsuit involving alleged fraudulent business practices by Wi-Fi deployment concern SignalShare.

SignalShare, which has installed and operated Wi-Fi networks in a number of large sports venues, including arenas used by the Detroit Red Wings, the Houston Rockets, the Sacramento Kings, the University of Maryland and others, is being sued for $7.8 million by NFS Leasing, an equipment leasing company, over a dispute involving allegedly fraudulent leases by SignalShare and SignalShare’s default on an agreement to pay back money obtained through those leases. As part of the ongoing legal proceedings, NFS has apparently scheduled an auction of SignalShare assets it claims, including leases, software code and hardware, for July 14 through Paul E. Saperstein Co., Inc.

So far, Mobile Sports Report has not been able to get any comments on the lawsuit or the auction from SignalShare, NFS, or any of the venues where SignalShare had installed networks. According to the auction site, NFS will make available for auction the contracts between SignalShare and the following list of teams and venues: The Golden State Warriors and Oracle Arena; the Carolina Hurricanes and PNC Arena; the Houston Rockets and Toyota Center Arena; the Detroit Red Wings and Joe Louis Arena; the Jacksonville Jaguars and Everbank Field; the Milwaukee Bucks and Brady Harris Arena; and the Las Vegas Sands Convention Center.

According to sources familiar with some of the SignalShare deals, some of the networks were run under a lease agreement, where the team or venue owners paid SignalShare a monthly fee for operation of the Wi-Fi network, with SignalShare retaining ownership of the actual equipment. According to legal documents filed in the case, NFS provided the financing for many of the existing SignalShare deals, as well as millions more in financing for deals NFS claims never actually existed. So far, there has been no public accounting for where the millions provided by NFS for the allegedly fraudulent leases ended up.

Live-Fi code also up for auction

While the leases are potentially interesting to many possible parties — firms who could take over the network operations, or who might be interested in purchasing the leased equipment — the asset with perhaps the most tangible worth is SignalShare’s “Live-Fi” software, a kind of customer portal program meant to help teams and venues engage more closely with fans and to also facilitate advertising sales. According to legal documents filed in the case, SignalShare owners apparently attempted to transfer the ownership of the Live-Fi code to a subsidiary firm to apparently keep it out of any claim proceedings, a move that was recently blocked when the courts granted an injunction requested by NFS.

Aside from whatever happens in the ongoing legal case and at the auction, for the venues involved the bigger question is more likely what happens to their existing or planned networks. In several of the mentioned deals, including the Jaguars, the University of Maryland and the Detroit Red Wings, SignalShare publicly partnered with Wi-Fi gear provider Extreme Networks; Extreme representatives declined to comment on any specifics of the SignalShare lawsuit.

One common trait shared by several of the SignalShare deals was that they involved Wi-Fi networks at arenas that were scheduled to be replaced or abandoned by the teams in the near future — the Warriors, Kings and Red Wings are all already building or planning to build new stadiums. The SignalShare “leasing” model may have seemed more attractive than spending the potentially millions in upfront costs for a network that may only have been used for a few years. The only thing for sure now is that the future of Wi-Fi at the venues mentioned seems to be on hold until the legal questions around SignalShare’s operations are answered.

Stadium Tech Professionals: Time to take our 2016 stadium tech survey!

2015_SoS_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 in our 2016 State of the Stadium Technology Survey. Now in its fourth 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 Wi-Fi analytics, CRM and social media. If you are part of a stadium operations group and know what goes on inside your venue, take the 2016 survey right now!

Because this is an ANONYMOUS, AGGREGATED INFORMATION ONLY survey, that 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 (and now our podcasts as well). 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 continuing to make 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 2016 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 Las Vegas, July 17-20. Production of this year’s survey is made possible by the sponsorship of JMA Wireless, 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. As a bonus, all SEAT attendees will get a print version of the survey results. If you haven’t already, you can sign up to attend SEAT.

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!

First look at Minnesota Vikings’ new US Bank Stadium

As part of our new STADIUM TECH REPORT for Q2 2016, Mobile Sports Report was allowed inside the still-under-construction US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, the new home of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. What follows here are some of the “sneak peek” photos we’re allowed to share with you in advance of our full report coming later this summer. For a more picturesque version of these photos, DOWNLOAD THE REPORT from our site!

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Sunset shot of the “viking ship” stadium showing its proximity to downtown. Credit, all photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR

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The other side of the stadium, where you can see the glass walls and the “viking ship” video board.

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Inside on the main concourse — three concourses will have full 360 degree views of the field.

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US Bank Stadium is using railing-mounted Wi-Fi APs to bring connectivity to the bowl — enclosure designed by Wi-Fi deployer AmpThink.

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Wi-Fi enclosures do a good job of blending in with the purple-and-silver seating.

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Yours truly with a selfie from the field-level suites. DOWNLOAD THE REPORT for more pictures!

New Report: US Bank Stadium sneak peek, Wi-Fi analytics and more!

DOC12Our newest STADIUM TECH REPORT features a look inside the Minnesota Vikings’ new home, US Bank Stadium, with a sneak peek photo essay ahead of the venue’s August opening dates. Also included in our latest issue is a feature on Wi-Fi analytics, as well as in-depth profiles of technology deployments at the St. Louis Cardinals’ Busch Stadium, and the Buffalo Bills’ Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Our Q2 issue for 2016 also has a big focus on DAS deployments, specifically at two venues with extra-large attendance issues — namely, the Kentucky Derby and the Daytona 500. You can get all this analysis and reporting by simply downloading a free copy of the report!

From its architecturally striking exterior to its sunny glass-walled interior, US Bank Stadium looks like a jewel for downtown Minneapolis. While we’ll have a full report on the technology inside a bit later this summer, you can feast your eyes on what we saw during a hard-hat tour of the stadium in early June.

On the Wi-Fi analytics side, you can hear from several leaders in stadium Wi-Fi implementations about how they are using data from their networks to improve the fan experience while also finding new ways to boost their own stadium businesses. Our profiles of Busch Stadium, Ralph Wilson Stadium and a bonus profile of the Los Angeles Coliseum all provide in-depth coverage of the unique challenges each one of these venues faces when it comes to technology deployments. And our DAS-focused coverage of deployments at Churchill Downs and Daytona International Speedway illustrate how expanded cellular coverage can provide enough connectivity when Wi-Fi isn’t an economic option. DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY of the report today and get this knowledge inside your head!

Beyonce fans use 2.64 TB of Wi-Fi at Levi’s Stadium

Beyonce at Levi's Stadium. Credit: Beyonce.com

Beyonce at Levi’s Stadium. Credit: Beyonce.com

Beyonce and her Formation World Tour came to Levi’s Stadium on May 16, and according to stadium network officials the fans in attendance that night used 2.64 terabytes of data on the stadium’s Wi-Fi network, a pretty big number when you realize that only 11,410 users connected to the network.

Following her cameo appearance at Levi’s during the Super Bowl 50 halftime, Beyonce sold out Levi’s (attendance was 46,730) for her May concert, and has added another appearance there on Sept. 17. While the numbers of fans connected to Wi-Fi didn’t even approach Super Bowl numbers — according to the stadium network crew the maximum concurrent user number was 7,820 — it’s possible that those fans racked up more bytes per device, since 2.64 TB is a good-sized number for a regular day of football Wi-Fi activity at wired stadiums like Levi’s.

According to Levi’s Stadium app provider VenueNext, the Beyonce tour did not have in-seat food ordering and delivery turned on for the concert, in what seems to be a trend for nighttime events at Levi’s Stadium. There is also no food ordering or delivery for the Copa America games currently taking place at Levi’s Stadium, according to the stadium staff. We have not yet seen any DAS numbers for the Beyonce concert but will update if we get those stats.