April 27, 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!

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.

AT&T: Final Four sees 1.52 terabytes of DAS traffic, almost double last year’s total

Lucas Oil StadiumSometimes we feel like a broken record when talking about data usage at big events — is the total ever going to stop growing? Not at the Final Four, apparently, where this year AT&T saw almost double the traffic on its in-stadium DAS, even at a smaller venue, the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

According to AT&T, its customers used a total of 1.52 terabytes of data on the in-stadium DAS at Lucas Oil Stadium during the three Final Four weekend games, a huge jump from the 885 GB of DAS traffic AT&T saw on its network at the last Final Four, held in AT&T Stadium. Remember, these numbers are for AT&T cellular customers only, and does not include traffic for any other wireless carriers or for the Lucas Oil Stadium Wi-Fi network. We have calls and emails in to the various players to see if we can get more numbers, but for now AT&T’s almost-double growth is pretty interesting.

Normally we’re not big fans of infographics but the one accompanying the AT&T press release about Final Four traffic is pretty interesting, since it simply shows just how much data use at big events keeps growing. AT&T’s DAS traffic numbers for the last four Final Fours (New Orleans, Atlanta, Texas and Indy) start respectively at 376 GB for 2012, then jump to 667 GB for 2013, then to 885 GB last year and the 1.52 TB mark this year. Maybe the release of the new iPhones this past fall helped with the ever-increasing totals, or the fact that new rich media applications like Vine and Instagram are gaining in use? And with new livestreaming video apps like Meerkat and Periscope joining the fray, how will wireless networks at large venues hold up?

For AT&T, big events now mean lots of resources not just inside the building, but in the surrounding public areas as well, to better handle the big crowds as they move about the event locale. Like it did for the recent South by Southwest festival in Austin, AT&T brought its big-ball antenna to Indy for the weekend, and supplemented downtown coverage with outdoor DAS deployments and improvements to the outdoor Wi-Fi hotspots it built for Super Bowl XLVI held at Lucas Oil in 2012.

AT&T Infographic about Final Four DAS data use

AT&T Infographic about Final Four DAS data use

Fans are using Periscope and Meerkat to stream Opening Day baseball action — how will MLB respond?

Ended Meerkat stream from MLB opening day

Ended Meerkat stream from MLB opening day

The question we asked about how the use of livestreaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope might affect stadium networks is getting some real-world trials today, as fans are clearly using the apps to show live video from the various opening day games for Major League Baseball. So far, we’ve seen reports that fans are using the apps from the New York Yankees’ home opener agains the Toronto Blue Jays, and at the Detroit Tigers’ home opener against the Minnesota Twins. We’ve tried to catch a live broadcast of game action, but so far no luck!

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal got MLB to comment… and the league doesn’t like live streaming, no wonder. Still, no word on how it’s going to be enforced.

Though live streaming of game action seems to be in direct violation of MLB broadcast rights, we still haven’t heard back from the league about what it plans to do, if anything, about livestream feeds from games. For what it’s worth, the Meerkat terms of service seem to absolve the app or the company from any infraction, saying it’s the user’s responsibility to not use it to show content that is copyrighted or otherwise protected. But we all remember YouTube, right?

Since the live streams aren’t archived it’s possible that the league may just let them slide; and there probably aren’t more than a handful of people streaming yet at each game, so it’s doubtful that stadium networks are yet feeling any huge strain from the apps.

Small text snippet from Meerkat TOS... you are own your own when it comes to rights violations!

Small text snippet from Meerkat TOS… you are own your own when it comes to rights violations!

But it’s also not too hard to look into the near future at a “big game” and see hundreds or thousands of fans bringing a stadium network to its knees with live video streaming. So far, none of our stadium sources seems willing to talk publicly about the potential problem; we also have calls and emails in to both Twitter and Meerkat, and will update this post as we hear more.

Twitter, which bought Periscope, has a relationship with MLB so you are likely to see lots of Vines and photos from teams. But so far on the Twitter Sports blog, no Periscope. Let us know if you see any live action streams… we will keep updating this post as we hear more.

UPDATE: Just saw some live video of introductions in DC thanks to our old pal David Joachim (hey Dave!)…

UPDATE 2: Just had to add this tweet from one of my favorite writers, Steve Rushin… of course they’re on their phones!