Mercedes-Benz Superdome’s Wi-Fi upgrade ready for college championship game

The Mercedes-Benz Superdome, home of Monday’s college football playoff championship game, has had a recent upgrade to its Wi-Fi network. Credit all photos: Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

You didn’t have to strain to detect the air of renewal in New Orleans this past fall. By the river, in the French Quarter and surrounding neighborhoods there’s been construction cranes, scaffolding and fresh paint.

Drive by the skyline-dominating Superdome at night, and you’ll see a three-point star projected on its façade. Known as the Mercedes-Benz Superdome since 2011, it’s more visual evidence of how New Orleans has fought its way back since Katrina tried to drown the city in 2005.

Inside the Superdome, a technology renewal has been in progress this past football season. New Wi-Fi access points have been installed; the venue’s IT managers don’t just want to deliver more bandwidth – they want to manage it intelligently and wring maximum return from their investment. Which helps explain why they’ve embraced under-seat APs throughout most of the Superdome, shedding the previous back-to-front/blast ’em with bandwidth approach that sporting venues once widely embraced.

“We pay attention to what the NFL needs, what the New Orleans Saints require and what the fans expect,” said Dave Stewart, ASM New Orleans’ manager of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (ASM is the entity that resulted from the September 2019 merger of Anschutz Entertainment Group and engineering firm SMG). “That’s why we make incremental improvements and as needs change, we want to be responsive.”

Keeping up with devices and demand

And wireless technology has evolved since the previous system was installed in 2012. While the number of smartphone users coming to the Superdome seven years ago was relatively low, they’re now the norm, Stewart said. “Year over year, take rates have increased, as have expectations and utilization,” he added. With more users and higher bandwidth consumption, the back-to-front deployment model struggled to keep up; Stewart and his colleagues started looking at other AP solutions like handrail encasements, under-seat APs, or some kind of hybrid.

Under-seat AP enclosure

The Superdome now features under-seat APs on its terrace level, with custom enclosures supplied by Airwae and is moving to under-seat APs in its lower bowl. For concerts or spectacles like Wrestlemania that require seating on what might otherwise be the Saints’ 50-yard line, ASM sets up folding chairs on the floor, and zip-ties AP enclosures beneath them. Cable runs between the APs and the network ports are never longer than 50 feet, Stewart explained.

“Covering the floor is always difficult,” he added. “But deploying portable networks designed specifically for an event is something every multi-event venue must do.”

All told, the Superdome is up to 2,027 APs across the complex, which includes 410 newly installed APs in the lower bowl of the Superdome, all under seat. The upgrade is a sizeable increase from the previous 1,400 APs, which translates to approximately $7 million for the upgrade (Stewart wouldn’t divulge the exact amount). But he did say that physical infrastructure, cabling pathways and manpower account for 60 percent of a new install budget; 30 percent is typically hardware and licenses, and 10 percent goes to project management and design configuration.

Unlike most AP enclosures, those in the Superdome don’t rest on the ground; they’re bolted to the riser with about an inch of clearance at the bottom. Though most open-air venues power-wash their stands after an event, standing water doesn’t work inside the Superdome — moisture and its companions, rust and mold, are big issues. So Superdome officials procured an AP enclosure design that could be mopped under.

Keeping fans connected while they roam

Another aspect of the Superdome’s Wi-Fi installation is its focus on roaming, similar to the way cellular users get passed from antenna to antenna as they traverse an area. “We’ve designed Wi-Fi networks that onboard you, and the APs hand you off to the other APs,” Stewart explained. If users had to be re-associated with the Superdome’s Wi-Fi each time they activate their phone or move around the venue, that reduces airtime availability for them and the people around them, he added.

New APs were also added outside the stadium

Regular Wi-Fi tuning is also essential to ensure efficiency and quality; the Superdome uses use Cisco’s adaptive radio management (ARM) to help tune and optimize its Wi-Fi for crowd sizes, event types and different locations around the dome. “We assign different power ranges and different channels or available sets of channels to each access point or group of APs,” Stewart said.

The new APs have already spurred an uptick in connectivity and usage. Take rates are up to 70 percent with the under-seat APs according to Stewart. And about half of those users are actively uploading and downloading data, quadruple what he saw two or three years ago – and those numbers are climbing.

The Superdome is a Cisco shop; Stewart and his crew have been installing the vendor’s 4800 series APs and using the 802.11ac standard, also known as Wi-Fi 5. Next-generation APs, 802.11ax or Wi-Fi 6, are on Stewart’s radar and there’s a longer term transition strategy. While he sees Wi-Fi 6 as the future, he also knows the move will require a back-end upgrade, since legacy controllers don’t support an .ax solution.

“Since the pathway is such a high percentage of the cost, those AC enclosures will be re-useable,” Stewart said. The new enclosures are also designed to accommodate a larger cable size if needed.

Stewart likes the efficiencies that Wi-Fi 6’s OFDMA feature can wring out of the radio spectrum, coupled with its multi-user scheduling of the same frequencies, all of which will make a big impact on airtime performance. But Wi-Fi 6 benefits won’t truly be realized until most user devices support the standard. Right now only a small handful of devices (including the Apple iPhone 11 line) support Wi-Fi 6.

But Stewart and his team have a carrot to motivate them toward Wi-Fi 6 APs. A couple carrots, in fact: The NCAA Men’s Final Four in 2022, then Super Bowl 58 in 2024 (the fourth time the dome will host the NFL championship). They’re looking to ensure the best fan experience possible and that means plentiful bandwidth and seamless connectivity.

Stewart said it will take about 18 months to start the Wi-Fi 6 design and procurement process; they expect to start the project in 24 months and have it completed a year later, well in time for the Super Bowl.

“Part of our strategy is to have phased upgrades year by year to stay relevant and improve the customer experience,” Stewart explained. “Digital menus, better DAS, better Wi-Fi – we have to be attentive to what our fans want and deliver it year after year.”

New Report: Oklahoma leads the way with Wi-Fi 6

MOBILE SPORTS REPORT is pleased to announce the Winter 2019-20 issue of our STADIUM TECH REPORT series, the ONLY in-depth publication created specifically for the stadium technology professional and the stadium technology marketplace.

Our latest issue contains an in-person report on the new Wi-Fi 6 network installed at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, and another in-person visit to see and test the new Wi-Fi network at Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, aka “The Swamp.” This issue also has an in-person look at the wireless networks at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum and at Chase Center, the new San Francisco home of the Golden State Warriors.

You can READ THE REPORT LIVE right now in our new flip-page format, with no registration required! (Great for tablets and big phone reads!) You can also DOWNLOAD THE REPORT in PDF format as well!

We’d like to take a quick moment to thank our sponsors, which for this issue include Mobilitie, JMA Wireless, Corning, Boingo, MatSing, Cox Business/Hospitality Network, Oberon, and ExteNet Systems. Their generous sponsorship makes it possible for us to offer this content free of charge to our readers. We’d also like to welcome readers from the Inside Towers community, who may have found their way here via our ongoing partnership with the excellent publication Inside Towers. We’d also like to thank the SEAT community for your continued interest and support.

As always, we are here to hear what you have to say: Send me an email to kaps@mobilesportsreport.com and let us know what you think of our STADIUM TECH REPORT series.

Biggest NBA video board at Chase Center profiled in our latest VENUE DISPLAY REPORT!

Mobile Sports Report is pleased to announce the third issue of our new VENUE DISPLAY REPORT, with in-depth profiles of display technology at Chase Center, the new home of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, and Fiserv Forum, new home of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. No need to sign up or register — just click on the image below and start reading the issue today!

A new vertical-specific offering of MSR’s existing STADIUM TECH REPORT series, the VENUE DISPLAY REPORT series will focus on telling the stories of successful venue display technology deployments and the business opportunities these deployments enable. Like its sibling Stadium Tech Report series, the Venue Display Report series will offer valuable information about cutting-edge deployments that venue owners and operators can use to inform their own plans for advanced digital-display strategies.

Our reporting and analysis will be similar to that found in our popular STR series, with stadium and venue visits to see the display technology in action, and interviews and analysis with thought leaders to help readers better inform their upcoming technology purchasing decisions. And in case you are new to the MSR world, rest assured that all our VDR reports will be editorially objective, done in the old-school way of real reporting. We do not accept paid content and do not pick profiles based on any sponsorship or advertising arrangements.

Our third VDR issue takes an in-depth look at the display deployment at Chase Center, where the NBA’s largest main video board (from Samsung’s Prismview) leads the largest-ever deployment of LED pixels in and around any single venue. And at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum, learn how the striking Daktronics displays combine with the management power of Cisco’s Cisco Vision Dynamic Signage solution to give the Bucks a powerful platform for audience engagement and sponsor activation. Start reading the issue now! No registration needed!

As venues seek to improve fan engagement and increase sponsor activation, display technology offers powerful new ways to improve the in-stadium fan experience. While these topics are of prime interest to many of our long-term audience of stadium tech professionals, we suggest that you share the link with colleagues on the marketing and advertising sales side of the house, as they will likely find great interest in the ROI enabled by strategic display system deployments.

Sponsorship spots are currently available for future VDR series reports; please contact Paul at kaps at mobilesportsreport.com for media kit information.

Ohio State adds another top-5 Wi-Fi day; Nebraska, Mile High also add to list

Even in the middle of a game-long rainstorm, fans at Ohio Stadium for Ohio State’s 38-7 victory over visiting Wisconsin on Oct. 25 still used 17.0 terabytes of data on the stadium’s new Wi-Fi network, a total that is the fourth-highest number we know of in our ongoing unofficial tally of big stadium Wi-Fi events.

According to figures provided to us by Ohio State, there were 61,997 unique devices connected to the Wi-Fi network during the Wisconsin game, with a peak concurrent connection mark of 35,074. Though still one of the biggest Wi-Fi days ever, the Wisconsin numbers did not hit the record levels set earlier this fall when Michigan State played at Ohio Stadium and a record 25.6 TB of data was seen on the network.

Editor’s note: You can now read our Stadium Tech Report profile of the new Ohio State network instantly online, with no registration or email address needed! JUST CLICK RIGHT HERE and start reading our latest report today!

More Wi-Fi at Mile High, and Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium

The stadium now known as Empower Field at Mile High also saw some recent big Wi-Fi days, including a couple concerts and a couple Denver Broncos home games. According to statistics provided to us by Russ Trainor, senior vice president for IT for the Broncos, the new top mark at the venue came during a Garth Brooks concert on June 8, 2019, with 12.63 TB used (now good for 10th on the new version of the Wi-Fi list, below). The Garth Brooks show also produced a record number for unique connections at Mile High, with 48,442 devices on the network.

The recently refreshed Wi-Fi network at Mile High seems to be producing regular totals in the 8-9 TB range, as Trainor said several other events this year crested the 8 TB mark, including 8.98 TB for an Oct. 13 game against the Tennessee Titans; 8.47 TB for a Rolling Stones concert on Aug. 10; and 8.09 TB for a Sept. 15 game against the Chicago Bears. The Bears game saw a Mile High record set for most concurrent Wi-Fi connections, at 37,163, while the Stones concert saw the highest stadium throughput mark, at 22.5 Gbps. According to Trainor the 8+ TB average event data marks at Mile High are up from an average in the 6 TB range a year ago.

At Nebraska, whose network we profiled a year ago, a similar range of Wi-Fi traffic days has been seen at home games this fall, with a high-water mark of 11.2 TB seen in and around the stadium on Sept. 28, when ESPN’s College Gameday was in town for the Ohio State-Nebraska matchup. According to statistics provided to us by Dan Floyd, director of IT for Nebraska Athletics, and Andrew Becker, Nebraska venue technology specialist, Memorial Stadium also saw 9.2 TB for a Oct. 5 game with Northwestern, and 8.5 TB for a Sept. 14 game with Northern Illinois, and 8.3 TB for the Aug. 31 home opener against South Alabama.

For the Ohio State game, Nebraska said it saw a top peak concurrent connected user number of 38,062, out of 89,759 in attendance that day.

New list coming soon!

On a final note for this post, please enjoy the “final” version of our all-time Wi-Fi list below, in its current format. Stay tuned for a post (coming soon) explaining some new thinking we are going to put into place regarding venue Wi-Fi totals reporting, an idea that will try to encompass some of the great and varied feedback we’ve been getting all fall. In that post we will finally explain why the current list keeps expanding without a bottom… and what new figures we think may be more interesting than just total tonnage. Stay tuned!

THE MSR TOP 36 FOR WI-FI

1. Michigan State vs. Ohio State, Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, Oct. 5, 2019: Wi-Fi: 25.6 TB
2. Super Bowl 53, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Ga., Feb. 3, 2019: Wi-Fi: 24.05 TB
3. NCAA Men’s 2019 Final Four semifinals, U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minn., April 6, 2019: Wi-Fi: 17.8 TB
4. Wisconsin vs. Ohio State, Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, Oct. 25, 2019: Wi-Fi: 17.0 TB
5. Super Bowl 52, U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minn., Feb. 4, 2018: Wi-Fi: 16.31 TB
6. Miami (Ohio) vs. Ohio State, Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, Sept. 21, 2019: Wi-Fi: 13.7 TB
7. NCAA Men’s 2019 Final Four championship, U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minn., April 8, 2019: Wi-Fi: 13.4 TB
8. Florida Atlantic vs. Ohio State, Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, Aug. 31, 2019: Wi-Fi: 13.3 TB
9. Cincinnati vs. Ohio State, Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio, Sept. 7, 2019: Wi-Fi: 12.7 TB
10. Garth Brooks Stadium Tour, Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo., June 8, 2019: Wi-Fi: 12.63 TB
11. 2018 College Football Playoff Championship, Alabama vs. Georgia, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Ga., Jan. 8, 2018: Wi-Fi: 12.0 TB
12. Auburn vs. Florida, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Fla., Oct. 5, 2019: Wi-Fi: 11.82 TB
13. Super Bowl 51, NRG Stadium, Houston, Feb. 5, 2017: Wi-Fi: 11.8 TB
14. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., Sept. 8, 2019: Wi-Fi: 11.58 TB
15. Ohio State vs. Nebraska, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb., Sept 28, 2019: Wi-Fi: 11.2 TB
16. Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa., Sept. 6, 2018: Wi-Fi: 10.86 TB
17. Super Bowl 50, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif., Feb. 7, 2016: Wi-Fi: 10.1 TB
18. Taylor Swift Reputation Tour, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., July 27, 2018: Wi-Fi: 9.76 TB
19. Northwestern vs. Nebraska, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb., Oct. 5, 2019: Wi-Fi: 9.2 TB
20. Tennessee Titans vs. Denver Broncos, Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo., Oct. 13, 2019: Wi-Fi: 8.98 TB
21. Minnesota Vikings vs. Philadelphia Eagles, NFC Championship Game, Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, Pa., Jan. 21, 2018: Wi-Fi: 8.76 TB
22. Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New England Patriots, AFC Championship Game, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., Jan. 21, 2018: Wi-Fi: 8.53 TB
23. Northern Illinois vs. Nebraska, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb., Sept. 14, 2019: Wi-Fi: 8.5 TB
24. Rolling Stones No Filter Tour, Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo., Aug. 10, 2019: Wi-Fi: 8.47 TB
25. South Alabama vs. Nebraska, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb., Aug. 31, 2019: Wi-Fi: 8.3 TB
26. Taylor Swift Reputation Tour, Broncos Stadium at Mile High, May 25, 2018: Wi-Fi: 8.1 TB
27. Chicago Bears vs. Denver Broncos, Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo., Sept. 15, 2019: Wi-Fi: 8.09 TB
28. Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., Sept. 7, 2017: Wi-Fi: 8.08 TB
29. SEC Championship Game, Alabama vs. Georgia, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Ga., Dec. 1, 2018: Wi-Fi: 8.06 TB
30. Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys, Divisional Playoffs, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, Jan. 15, 2017: Wi-Fi: 7.25 TB
31. Stanford vs. Notre Dame, Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind., Sept. 29, 2018: 7.19 TB
32. (tie) Southern California vs. Notre Dame, Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind., Oct. 21, 2017: 7.0 TB
Arkansas State vs. Nebraska, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb., Sept 2, 2017: Wi-Fi: 7.0 TB
33. Tennessee vs. Florida, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Fla., Sept. 21, 2019: Wi-Fi: 6.94 TB
34. WrestleMania 32, AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, April 3, 2016: Wi-Fi: 6.77 TB
35. Wisconsin vs. Nebraska, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb., Oct. 7, 2017: Wi-Fi: 6.3 TB
36. Super Bowl 49, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz., Feb. 1, 2015: Wi-Fi: 6.23 TB

Cisco inks deal for Wi-Fi 6 network, Cisco Vision system at SoFi Stadium

SoFi Stadium

Aerial view of ongoing construction at SoFi Stadium, future home of the NFL’s Rams and Chargers. Credit: LA Rams/Mark Holtzman, West Coast Aerial Photography, Inc.

Cisco announced today that it will supply gear for a Wi-Fi 6 network at SoFi Stadium, the future home of the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, along with a deployment of its Cisco Vision IPTV display management system.

In an announcement that identifies Cisco as the “official IT network services partner of SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park,” the networking company said it is slated to install “more than 2,500 Wi-Fi 6 access points” inside the still under-construction stadium, which is scheduled to open ahead of the 2020 NFL season. Hollywood Park, which is being built by Los Angeles Rams owner and chairman Stan Kroenke, is billed as a “298-acre global sports and entertainment destination,” being built on the site of the old Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood, to the south and west of downtown L.A. (and on the flight path in to LAX airport).

While Cisco claims that the all-Wi-Fi 6 network will eventually deliver “four times greater capacity than the previous Wi-Fi standard,” it’s worthwhile to note that the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 won’t be realized until the phones in fans’ hands support the new system as well (most phones a year old or older do not have Wi-Fi 6 support). The good news is, many of the newer phones on the market, including the new Apple iPhone 11 line, do support Wi-Fi 6, so fans with newer phones should be able to see the better performance supported by Wi-Fi 6.

If the stadium itself does eventually use 2,500 or more APs it would be among the top if not at the top of the list of venues with the most APs. (We’d like to get a current count from AT&T Stadium before making any definitive calls on this issue.) According to the release, SoFi Stadium will seat approximately 70,000 fans, with capacity expandable up to around 100,000. In addition to Rams and Chargers home games, the stadium is already slated to host Super Bowl LVI in 2022, followed by the College Football National Championship Game in 2023, and the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2028 Summer Olympics.

On the Cisco Vision side, Cisco said the system will be the first all-4K version of Cisco Vision, and it will support “approximately 2,500 screens throughout SoFi Stadium’s concourses, suites, concessions, as well as across Hollywood Park.” The Cisco Vision IPTV display management system allows for centralized control of graphics and video content across all the connected screens.

Stadium Tech Report: Las Vegas Ballpark gets Major League Wi-Fi

The Las Vegas Ballpark has been a hit since its opening this year. Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR (click on any picture for a larger image)

Maybe for some late-night behavior, the old “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” rule still applies.

But when it comes to minor-league baseball, the tale of what’s happening at Las Vegas Ballpark is being spread far and wide, as the high-end finishes, fan-friendly amenities and high-definition Wi-Fi network at the new venue
are the talk not only of many Triple-A teams, but of other sports and possibly even Major League Baseball as well.

The $150 million ballpark, which opened this past season in the Vegas suburb of Summerlin, is the new shining jewel in minor-league baseball, with features like a huge video screen, party porches and club-level suites that feel more major-league than minor. So far the facility has been a smash hit with Vegas baseball fans, setting a new season-attendance record halfway through the summer and leading the minor leagues in attendance, despite the fact that the 10,000-seat venue is the seventh-smallest park in the PCL.

During a quick summer visit for a game at the park, Mobile Sports Report found that the fan-facing Wi-Fi network was at the same quality level as all the other amenities, with speed tests in the 60 Mbps range for both download and upload at most locations around the stadium. Built by Cox Business/Hospitality Network using Cisco gear, the network uses both under-seat and overhead AP deployments, as well as some on poles, to make sure all visitors have solid connectivity no matter where they roam inside the venue. With that kind of bandwidth, it’s no wonder that selfies, videos and other social-media reports are helping make Las Vegas Ballpark one of the worst-kept secrets in Vegas.

Major amenities for minor league park

Editor’s note: This report is from our latest STADIUM TECH REPORT, an in-depth look at successful deployments of stadium technology. Included with this report is a profile of the new Wi-Fi 6 network at Ohio Stadium, and an in-depth research report on the converged fiber network at Dickies Arena. DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE COPY now!

An under-seat AP enclosure

“What’s happening here isn’t staying in Las Vegas,” said Branch Rickey, president of the Pacific Coast League, during an August press conference to announce that the 2020 Triple-A National Championship Game will be played at Las Vegas Ballpark on Sept. 22, 2020. Rickey, the grandson of the famous baseball executive with the same name, noted that the new facility is “resonating with players, coaches and executives” throughout the league.

While Las Vegas may have an outsized reputation for what happens with visitors to the legendary strip of casinos, the reality of the larger Las Vegas is that it’s like many other U.S. cities of a similar size, with families and residents who have been hungering for quality sports entertainment. The instant success of the NHL’s Las Vegas Golden Knights – who sold a ton of season tickets to locals – is reflected in the embrace of the Las Vegas Aviators’ new home, which is about as anti-Vegas as you can get.

Free parking, in a location far away from the Vegas Strip (Summerlin is about a 20-minute drive from the casinos at rush hour), and family-friendly features like a grassy hill beyond the right-field fence where kids can roll around – or ping-pong tables on an outfield patio for kids who can’t stay focused on baseball – make Las Vegas Ballpark a perfect place for families. And the more adult-focused sections, like the suites – or the party porches along each side of the stadium and the outfield swimming pool area, provide easy entertainment options for companies or other large groups looking to have a “team” event with baseball as a backdrop.

But in this day and age, no public sports place would seem complete without good wireless connectivity, and with its major-league Wi-Fi network, Las Vegas Ballpark covers that base completely. With 380 APs covering the entire park, MSR couldn’t find a single spot without consistent coverage, including even outside the entry gates.

According to Cox, approximately 130 of the APs are installed under seats, a trickier than usual deployment since the ballpark uses mesh seats in all seating areas – a construction that could dip fans’ bottoms closer to the APs than a regular hard plastic seat.

A QR code makes logging in a simple procedure

Mike Fredericks, vice president for IT development for stadium owners the Howard Hughes Corporation, said
the network was built to “major league standards,” and our unofficial speed tests seemed to confirm that quality. According to Cox, a 10 Gbps backbone powers the network. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is the naming sponsor of the park, under an $80 million, 20-year deal.

As the technology sponsor, Cox Business/Hospitality Network is the exclusive solutions provider for the Las Vegas Ballpark, supporting both back-of-house networking as well as the fan-facing technology.

Solid Wi-Fi everywhere in the park

If there is one place that venues seem to consistently overlook when building out wireless, it’s the space just outside the ticketing gates toward the parking lot, an omission that can cause severe fan headaches in these days of increasing use of digital ticketing. There was no such problem at Las Vegas Ballpark, where outside the outfield (east) entryway we got a speed test of 51.5 Mbps on the download and 46.9 Mbps for upload. If there is one hitch to the free Wi-Fi it is the need to provide a name and a valid email address to log in, a registration process that seems to be generally falling out of favor in other stadiums.

Once inside the park MSR started a circumnavigation beginning with a path behind the centerfield wall, where we got a speed test of 57.1 Mbps / 58.6 Mbps. We walked directly underneath the 31-foot-high by 126-foot wide Daktronics video board, the largest in minor league baseball. We also walked directly underneath a MatSing ball cellular antenna, which Verizon is currently using to provide cellular coverage for its customers.

A MatSing ball antenna provides cellular coverage from centerfield

Until the DAS gets fully built out inside the stadium, AT&T, according to the stadium IT crew, plans to cover the stands using a macro tower on a nearby building; T-Mobile was providing service to the stadium using a COW (cell on wheels) unit in the main parking lot.

In both the left- and right-field corners of the stands, Las Vegas Ballpark has some “loge” type seating, with a fixed tabletop in front of several rows of seats. Under-seat Wi-Fi deployments on both sides seemed to work well, with speed tests of 65.6 Mbps / 68.9 Mbps in the left-field loge seats and 66.4 Mbps / 55.5 Mbps in right field. On the upper deck seating areas along both base lines are party decks, both of which were hosting private events on the night we attended; MSR was able to sneak in and get a speed test of 66.5 Mbps / 67.5 Mbps on the left-field deck; where Wi-Fi coverage was in part provided by a couple of APs mounted on a low pole.

We didn’t get a speed test at the centerfield pool area – another private party had the space reserved – but we did get a solid 43.8 Mbps / 57.3 Mbps mark at “The Hangar,” the centerfield bar. And even though the connectivity, architecture and trappings at the stadium had a major-league feel, the between-inning promotions – like kids racing on the field on bouncy blow-up horses – and local sponsors (like a land-surveying company for home-run distance measures) made sure the game kept the charm that only a minor-league game can provide.

At the press conference (held earlier in the day of our visit) executives from minor league baseball waxed eloquently about the park’s attributes. “This ballpark exceeded expectations, if that was possible,” said Pat O’Conner, president of Minor League Baseball. And while he stressed that he was no wireless expert, PCL’s Rickey did say that having major-league connectivity was an essential part of the minor league experience.

“If we are looking to find avenues to younger fans, we realize that they are very more connected,” said Rickey in a separate interview with MSR. “Our fans are reliant on their mobile devices, and they can be used to provide so much information about our game. Having great wireless is where we have to be. It’s essential to where we are headed.”

At Las Vegas Ballpark, that base is covered. Feel free to spread the word.

Editor’s note: This report is from our latest STADIUM TECH REPORT, an in-depth look at successful deployments of stadium technology. Included with this report is a profile of the new Wi-Fi 6 network at Ohio Stadium, and an in-depth research report on the converged fiber network at Dickies Arena. DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE COPY now!


A good look at the stadium, which has suites and party decks on the upper level

Sunsets can be spectacular at Las Vegas Ballpark

An under-seat AP deployment in the loge seating area