Wrigley DAS using low-profile omni antennas; plus, stadium gets new moveable stands for football

New flat-panel omnidirectional DAS antenna seen in upper right. Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR (click on any photo for a larger image)

We have a longer, more detailed profile of the new DAS deployment at Wrigley Field in the works (look for it in our next Stadium Tech Report issue in June) but I did want to provide a quick look at a neat new omnidirectional DAS antenna from Laird Technologies that was used by DAS Group Professionals in their Wrigley layout.

The thin, flat disc antenna looks great in an indoor deployment, with it barely visible in some situations when it is matched with the ceiling paint. Derek Cotton, vice president of engineering for DGP, said DGP is “very pleased” with the performance of the flat-panel antennas. Among other places we saw them during our Wrigley tour in April was in the new underground club, in back of house locations, and also outdoors, above a concessions stand in the bleachers.

Movable stands bring more space for football

It has nothing to do with wireless technology, but another new thing we saw at Wrigley was a section of box seats along the third-base foul lines that are now removable, to allow more space for end zones when Wrigley is used for football games.

Though the Chicago Bears played football at Wrigley back in the Gale Sayers days, there haven’t been many football games there since. And at the latest one played, a college game between Illinois and Northwestern in 2010, the teams were only allowed to use one end zone for safety reasons. According to this New York Times story from 2010 (which has great pictures that show the problem) the additional box seats added since the old days had cramped the space needed for safe end zone activities.

This past offseason, the Cubs dug out almost the entire lower box-seat section (down 40 to 60 feet) to allow for the construction of underground club spaces, one of which is already open. As part of the reconstruction some of the third-base line box seats are now removable so there can be more room for football games.

Watch for our next Stadium Tech Report for a full in-depth look at the new Wrigley DAS! Some more pix below.

Flat-panel DAS antenna blends nicely with ceiling paint job

Flat-panel DAS above concession stand behind Wrigley’s bleachers

Third-base line removable seats have metal flooring (you can see line between metal and concrete in upper right)

Closer look at division between permanent seats on concrete and movable ones on metal

Maryland taps Extreme, SignalShare for Wi-Fi at football and basketball venues

Xfinity Center, home of University of Maryland basketball. Credit all photos: University of Maryland website

Xfinity Center, home of University of Maryland basketball. Credit all photos: University of Maryland website

In the second tag-team deal that we know of, the University of Maryland has selected the combination of Extreme Networks and SignalShare for Wi-Fi network and services deployments at both its football and basketball venues, according to a news release today.

Hoops fans will get to test the services first, as according to the press release the network inside the Terrapins’ Xfinity Center will be live for games this season, starting later this month. A Wi-Fi network for the 54,000-seat Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium, which is used by Maryland for football and lacrosse, will be fully installed by next season. According to the release, Extreme and SignalShare have already deployed Wi-Fi for luxury suites and press areas in the football facility, and will add services for upper and lower bowl seating by the start of football next year.

Since we haven’t yet had time to talk to anyone from either Maryland or the participating companies, we’ll crib from our previous story about the Extreme-SignalShare collaboration in use at the Jacksonville Jaguars’ EverBank Field.

Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium

Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium

If you are a regular MSR reader you probably know about Extreme and its IdentFi Wi-Fi deployments; the more unknown of the duo is likely SignalShare, a Raleigh, N.C., concern that has both Wi-Fi integration and deployment expertise, as well as an “audience engagement platform” called “Live-Fi” that the company says “leverages real-time analytics and dynamic messaging to deliver location-aware customized content – including offers, discounts and call-to-actions – to attendees’ mobile devices during events.”

SignalShare says it has systems at work for sports clients including the Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets, and Indiana Pacers, and has also deployed its systems at other large venues and events, including the U.S. Open tennis tournament and several large outdoor concert venues.

We will, of course, do our best to dig deeper into the whys and hows of the deal, but for now a canned comment from the press release will have to suffice:

“At Maryland, like at many universities across the country, our students live and breathe with their mobile devices,” Maryland director of athletics Kevin Anderson said in a prepared statement. “We want to make sure that when students come to a game, not only can they remain connected to their favorite social networks, sites and apps, but that we can entertain them with new fan engagement initiatives, including the eventual addition of in-seat ordering, game day jersey sales and other interactive experiences and promotions. The solution from SignalShare and Extreme will elevate our game day experience to an enhanced level.”

Xfinity Center indoors

Xfinity Center indoors

CBSSports.Com adds two additional Football Programs, Expands Fantasy Football Program


Not enough football programs and highlight shows to satisfy your needs? Well then you will be happy to know that CBSSports.com has stepped up to the plate with an extra 10 hours of programming a week.

It has launched a pair of video series that will air daily with one, Pro Football 360 covering the NFL while the other, College Football 360, obviously handling college football. The shows will be a mix of analysis of match-ups and past games as well as news.

In addition the programs, both of which will be hosted by Kevin Corke, will feature experts on the NFL and college football and handle questions from fans as well as discuss trending topics of the day.

The lineup for the Pro Football 360 program will include Jason LaConfora, Pat Kirwan, Pete Prisco, Mike Freeman and Clark Judge as the regular lineup. For the College Football 360 programming team CBSSports.com is providing college football experts Dennis Dodd, Bruce Feldman, Tony Barnhart as well as a floating lineup for the program.

The programs will be available live, on demand through the CBSSports.com mobile app and are distributed across the CBS Audience Network. In addition Fantasy Football Today has added Sunday morning and evening shows so that it will now be on four days a week.
2012 Season Weekly Schedule

• College Football 360 – 10:00 AM, ET
• Pro Football 360 – 3:00 PM, ET

• College Football 360 – 10:00 AM, ET
• Fantasy Football Today – 12:00 PM, ET
• Pro Football 360 – 3:00 PM, ET

• College Football 360 – 10:00 AM, ET
• Fantasy Football Today – 12:00 PM, ET
• Pro Football 360 – 3:00 PM, ET

• College Football 360 – 10:00 AM, ET
• Fantasy Football Today – 12:00 PM, ET
• Pro Football 360 – 3:00 PM, ET

• College Football 360 – 10:00 AM, ET
• Fantasy Football Today – 12:00 PM, ET
• Pro Football 360 – 3:00 PM, ET

• Fantasy Football Today – 11:00 AM and 7:00 PM, ET
If you wish to follow on social media there are a variety of options:
College Football 360
Twitter: #CF360
Facebook: Facebook.com/EyeonCollegeFootball

Pro Football 360
Twitter: #PF360
Facebook: Facebook.com/EyeOnFootball

Fantasy Football Today
Twitter: #FFT
Facebook: Facebook.com/CBSSportsFantasyFootball

University of Oregon embraces Social Media with Quack Cave

Oregon's Quack Cave

The PAC-12 Network’s introduction yesterday of its Pac-12 Now for iPad is just the latest conference effort to expand its brand to a wider market but some of the individual schools are also making a push to create a stronger bond with their fans and alumni.

One school at the forefront of this effort is the University of Oregon which has been aggressive in the past with programs such as its GoDucks.com web site and other initiatives but now has gone another step with its Quack Cave.

Touted as the first social media hub in college sports and modeled after an effort by the NHL’s New Jersey Devils the school has outfitted a room that would be the envy of any technophile, filled with flat screens connected to iPads.

While the site is not just sports specific it looks like it will be sports centric. The Quack Cave will be charged with representing the school on a wide variety of social medias including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.

The schools previous efforts at digital outreach have been very successful, with approximately 500,000 Facebook and Twitter followers, but the current effort could make that number seem small potatoes. Housed in a former storage unit near the school’s Autzen Stadium

The school is still in the process of setting up the effort and the site www.QuackCave.com was not active as of this writing but I expect that a big push is underway in order to get it up and running by this weekend when the football season opens for much of the nation. Fans can also follow at @QuackCave on Twitter.

I think this is a great idea, not just for Oregon, but any school. It seems that it will have a much more immediate and personal impact than the conference efforts, which will have to be more balanced (hopefully). If your school is doing something similar drop me a line at gquick@mobilesportsreport.com


Football (The US Version) Applying for Olympic Recognition?

I caught an interesting piece in ProFootballTalk that said that the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) was applying for Olympic recognition and looking to promote the game on the international stage at some point.

According to a piece at NFL.Com the application will be looked at next year and the article compared how the US once dominated basketball and now others have caught up. Really it often seems that the loss 2004 had other issues that cause the defeat and ultimate disappointing bronze.

I had never really considered football as a sport that fit well in the Olympics format, or one that would do well if selected, and that is not because of the possibility that it is not accepted by other nations. Rather the problem is that it seems to me that with all of the qualifying rounds and matches (assuming they do it like soccer), the sport would continue on from the end of the NFL season until the start of the Olympics.

Then once the Olympics started they would have to play a number of games within a two week period, unless they had already weeded out all of the teams but the final four. That just seems like it would not do for the players with the much higher risk that would entail.

Yet there is a much larger body of people playing football around the world that I had imagined as well. In perusing the IFAF web site I was astounded to see how many national federations there was in the organization. With 62 on six continents it is spread from Kuwait to Uruguay to New Zealand with Europe having by far the most nations represented.

They have an 19 and under league, a women’s league and a seniors league, and have played for at least four championships, one played every four years and the next one scheduled for play in Sweden in 2015.

Apparently football was played once as a spectator sport in the Olympics, back in 1932 at the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles seniors from three schools, California, Stanford and USC played a set against seniors from three schools from the East Coast, Harvard, Yale and Princeton. The West won 7-6.

While I have seen many people complain that one reason that the Olympics would never accept football is because of US domination and point to the dropping of baseball as an example, I think that reasoning is at least in part misguided.

Major League Baseball is never going to stop playing for several weeks in the middle of the season to allow its players to go to the games. The lost revenue, the impact on playoff games and a host of other issues would make that move a terrible idea.

If you look at the last 5 Olympics that allowed baseball, the US won the gold once, in 2000, along with two bronze medals while Cuba has won three gold medals and South Korea one. Without the top athletes, which it does not look like they will get, the US probably would not be considered the favorite if other nations managed to get their top people in.

Much the same logic can be applied to the NFL’s reaction. Lose players for a number of weeks at the start of training camp? Well they actually did that last year, and I am pretty sure that no one is happy with that or wants to repeat it.

The only way I could see the US participate is if they took one of the other leagues, the reborn USFL or the UFL and used the championship team from that league. While an all star team might make more sense to some it seems to me that a team that has already played a season together has a better chance of shining in an event such as this.

Are you Watching this Weekend’s Arena Football Playoffs?

The Arena Football League playoffs start this week with some returning powerhouses and new up-and-comers as the league continues to make a nice recovery after being left for dead a few years back when it ceased operations.

I have a number of friends that deride the league as bush league but in the few games I have attended I really enjoyed myself. It features very high scoring and continuous action. The short field and odd rules really make it a great viewing spectacle, especially in person where it is an inexpensive yet fun time.

For the first round of playoffs, which will see games played on July 27 and 28 there will be eight games, two apiece in each conference. In the National Conference the San Antonio Talons, founded this year, against the Utah Blades in one set while the other will feature the Arizona Rattlers against the San Jose SaberCats, one of the oldest established teams in the league.

Over on the American Conference side the first week matchups will include the Philadelphia Soul against the New Orleans VooDoo and in the other match there will be the Jacksonville Sharks against the Georgia Force.

The winners from both conferences will meet the following weekend for the conference championships and the week after that is the Avitae ArenaBowl XXV to be held in New Orleans with a 10:30 pm ET kickoff. So New Orleans could have a home field advantage if it manages to win out. Some games will be broadcast on the NFL Network while others will be available online at www.ustream.tv.

Just for those that do not know, the AFL was founded in 1987 and played until the economic downturn of 2007 forced it to dissolve. It was reformed in 2010 and has been playing since with 17 teams in two conferences of two divisions each. The season is 20 weeks long with two bye weeks.

What makes it interesting to me is the field. It is 85 feet wide, 50 yards long and has a 3-yard end zone. Eight players per team and they have four downs to move the ball at least 10 yards. Scoring is a bit wide open with six points for a touchdown with one point for a conversion by place kick, two points for a conversion by drop kick and two points for successful run or pass after a touchdown.

Three points for a field goal by placement or four points for a field goal by drop kick. Missed kicks can be returned by the opposition and a safety is two points. Interesting note is that the AFL is the second longest running football league in the United States, after of course the National Football League.