Sporting Innovations’ lawsuit against former co-CEO is dismissed

Asim Pasha

Asim Pasha

The somewhat bizarre lawsuit brought last year by Kansas City-based Sporting Innovations against its former co-CEO Asim Pasha for allegedly conspiring to set up a competing firm using Sporting Innovations assets and intellectual property has been dismissed, with a stipulation that the firm cannot re-file similar charges at a later date.

According to a document dated Feb. 29 provided to us by Pasha’s lawyers from Lathrop & Gage LLP, Kansas City, Sporting Innovations’ claims against Asim and his son Zain Pasha (who also worked for Sporting Innovations) were dismissed with prejudice, meaning they cannot be filed again in the future. As part of the negotiation, Pasha also agreed to dismiss his counterclaims against Sporting Innovations, basically meaning that the legal entanglement between the two parties is over.

Robb Heineman

Robb Heineman

Neither Pasha nor Sporting Innovations (now called FanThreeSixty) or FanThreeSixty CEO Robb Heineman would comment on the lawsuit dismissal, but with this result you have to wonder why exactly the case was brought in its initial fashion with its initial claims, including Sporting Innovations’ claim of $75,000 in damages. Though Pasha seems to have perhaps lost any claim to his 20 percent ownership stake in the company — according to Pasha’s lawyers he no longer owns any part of Sporting Innovations — Pasha also announced that he is taking over as the chief technology officer for the new stadium being designed for the AS Roma club, the Stadio Della Roma, which is scheduled to open in 2017 or 2018. We are trying to schedule some time to speak with Pasha about the new stadium, which seems like a very interesting, advanced project, so stay tuned.

On the Sporting Innovations/FanThreeSixty side, the firm is still apparently continuing with part of its original lawsuit, against other defendants. According to the legal document:

The Stipulation of Dismissal, with prejudice, does not affect Plaintiff Sporting Innovations KC LLC’s claims against Vernalis Group, Inc., Nader Hanafy, Inventory Intel, LLC, and Ubi Technologies, LLC, which parties remain as Defendants.

We have emails in to FanThreeSixty for comment, and we also asked Heineman to comment on the case in an “ask me anything” session he recently held on Twitter, but have not gotten a reply to either query. As we noted previously, Sporting Innovations/FanThreeSixty hasn’t announced any new clients recently for their stadium app program, and several high-profile customers, including the Pac-12 and the Tampa Bay Lightning, are no longer using Sporting Innovations software.

Sporting Innovations changes name to FanThreeSixty, no news on lawsuit

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 9.14.29 PMKansas City-based sports app developer Sporting Innovations has changed its name to FanThreeSixty, a brand change for what the company calls the desire to create “a more direct connection to its award-winning FanThreeSixty platform.”

However, it’s also possible that the name change is part of a strategy to distance the company from an ongoing legal battle between current FanThreeSixty CEO and former Sporting Innovations CEO Robb Heineman and his former co-CEO Asim Pasha, which started when Sporting Innovations and Heineman filed a lawsuit against Pasha for allegedly conspiring to set up a competing firm using Sporting Innovations assets and intellectual property. That move was followed by Pasha filing counterclaims denying the company’s charges against him while also alleging that he was denied promised ownership stakes in the company for providing the technology behind its stadium-application business.

According to legal representatives for Pasha, the “name change has nothing to do with the lawsuit,” which, according to Pasha’s legal team and news reports, the is still ongoing and scheduled to be heard later this year. FanThreeSixty did not respond to requests for information or an interview about the press release.

So whatever the reason behind its name change, the company formerly known as Sporting Innovations is known primarily for being one of the first movers in the still-nascent field of integrated sports stadium apps, where functionality is designed to not only enhance the fan game-day experience but to also help the team or venue better capture marketing information from digital device use. The company was (and still is) joined at the hip with the Sporting Kansas City Major League Soccer franchise, which was one of the first teams to install Wi-Fi in its stadium and to embrace mobile-device usage by fans.

However, Sporting Innovations’ business of late has not provided much in the way of public customer wins, and several previous customers for the company’s Uphoria mobile device app platform have since dropped the product, including the Pac-12 and the Tampa Bay Lightning. While the Sporting Innovations site had until recently still included links to its Pac-12 and other previous customer wins, the new FanThreeSixty site has scrubbed all the old customer news and links from its site.

New Report: Baseball AND Soccer stadium tech updates

MLB_Thumb_2015MOBILE SPORTS REPORT is pleased to announce the second issue in our second year of our STADIUM TECH REPORT series, which includes a focus on baseball and soccer stadium technology deployments, and team-by-team coverage of technology deployments for all 30 MLS teams — AND all 20 MLS teams.

Download your free copy today!

We spent a long time getting this longest-ever report ready, but if you want to get an update on MLB’s Wi-Fi everywhere plan, which is almost complete, we have the most information anywhere about the strategy and the results.

Inside the report — our longest ever — our editorial coverage includes:

— Kauffman Stadium profile: The benefits of Wi-Fi installed before the surprise World Series run by the Kansas City Royals.

— In-depth profiles of new technology deployments at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, and at the new Avaya Stadium for soccer in San Jose.

— MLB stadium tech research: This editorial research provides a technology update and analysis for stadiums used by all 30 MLB teams, gauging the level of deployment of Wi-Fi and DAS.

— MSR exclusive stadium tech analysis: The report also includes an exclusive interview with MLBAM’s Joe Inzerillo, architect of the “Wi-Fi everywhere” plan MLB is completing this season.

Download your free copy today!

In-seat food delivery returns to Levi’s Stadium for Earthquakes soccer game

Screen shot from Levi's Stadium app showing active in-seat delivery option.

Screen shot from Levi’s Stadium app showing active in-seat delivery option.

In-seat food delivery, the feature perhaps most unique to Levi’s Stadium, will return this Sunday for a MLS game between the San Jose Earthquakes and the Orlando City SC, a 4 p.m. start at the 68,500-seat home of the San Francisco 49ers.

While in-seat food delivery was active for all the Niners’ home games this past NFL season, the feature ran into some issues during the Coors Light Stadium Series hockey game at Levi’s in February, a still not-fully-explained problem of either too many orders or too few staffers to deliver that led to an unspecified number of incompleted orders and angry fans. At subsequent Levi’s events like the March WrestleMania 31 event, fans were not able to order in-seat food and beverage delivery by request of the event’s organizers.

But the latest refresh of the Levi’s Stadium app by VenueNext shows an active in-seat delivery menu, though it appears only food and beverages, and not merchandise, will be available for soccer fans to have brought to their seats. One reason why it may be easier for delivery to be available is that from seating maps it appears that the 300- and 400-level seating areas (the upper decks at Levi’s) won’t be open for the Sunday soccer game, making it a smaller overall crowd.

Avaya Stadium fans used 256 GB of Wi-Fi during Earthquakes’ MLS home opener

Connecting to Wi-Fi was easy

Connecting to Wi-Fi was easy

Fans at the San Jose Earthquakes’ MLS home opener at the brand-new Avaya Stadium used 256 gigabytes of data on the venue’s Wi-Fi network, according to statistics provided by Avaya, which also runs the wireless network in its new namesake stadium.

With a sellout crowd of 18,000 on hand to jam the new stadium, almost 25 percent of the attendees logged on to the Wi-Fi network, with a total of 4,217 unique connections during the March 22 game, Avaya representatives said. The peak number of simultaneous connections during the 2-1 Earthquakes victory over the Chicago Fire was 2,735, Avaya said, with an average connection number of 1,247 fans on the Wi-Fi network during the game.

Our unofficial testing of the Wi-Fi network during the game found some spots where connectivity was challenged, but with 256 GB over a few hours the 170+ Wi-Fi access points appeared to have done their job. We expect connectivity at Avaya Stadium to improve when Mobilitie finishes deploying its neutral-host DAS in the stadium, which currently does not have any enhanced cellular connectivity.

Stadium Tech Report: Average connectivity doesn’t seem to hurt Avaya Stadium experience

Panoramic view of the packed house at Avaya Stadium for the official debut.

Panoramic view of the packed house at Avaya Stadium for the official debut.

From a strictly wireless perspective, the opening-day performance of the Avaya Stadium Wi-Fi network was good in some spots and very poor in others, leading to an overall grade of average at best. But the Wi-Fi issues didn’t seem to take anything away from the smashing debut of a facility purpose-built for soccer and well-designed for an easy, fun fan experience, even with a sellout crowd of 18,000 on hand.

Mobile Sports Report visited Avaya Stadium for its “official” debut, Sunday’s San Jose Earthquakes’ MLS season home opener against the Chicago Fire, which ended in a 2-1 San Jose victory. But the team on the field wasn’t the only winner, as fans seemed to be smiling and enjoying every part of the new $100 million venue, from its huge end-zone bar and its close-to-the-field seats, to the pre-game picnic area with food trucks, music, and space for kids to run around. Well-planned parking and traffic operations seemed to cause few problems, with most fans finding their way to their seats in the new park in time for the just-after-4 p.m. kickoff.

If my unofficial walk-around testing was any true barometer, my guess is that the only problem some fans might have had Sunday was trying to connect to the Internet to post the thousands of selfies I saw being taken with smartphones. With almost zero cellular communication inside the stadium, and very low Wi-Fi readings in much of the seating bowl, my tests lead me to conclude that while the stadium is wonderful right now for watching futbol, its wireless connectivity is still a work in progress but one that should get better soon when the planned neutral-host DAS from Mobilitie gets installed and becomes operational.

Parking and traffic a breeze

Since I arrived early and had an employee-lot parking pass (thanks to the Earthquakes for the media pass and parking) I didn’t encounter any traffic at all either in my drive down 101 or on the streets leading to the stadium. Approaching from the north on 6-lane wide Coleman Avenue, there was very clear signage for each of the parking lots, and no backups in sight at 2 p.m., two hours before the scheduled start.

Fans waiting outside the main gate

Fans waiting outside the main gate

Since it’s about one-fourth the size of its neighbor to the north, the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium, Avaya Stadium probably won’t have the same kinds of transit and parking issues that plagued Levi’s during its inaugural season. It also seems like the Avaya Stadium location is a much better setup for getting in and out of the stadium, with the wide Coleman Avenue and the huge dirt lots directly adjacent to the venue. Walking past some early bird tailgaters I was at the stadium gates in a couple minutes. In both the employee lot and the closest regular parking lot, I couldn’t get a Wi-Fi signal at all but cellular connectivity was pretty good (7+ Mbps on Verizon 4G LTE), as I could see several large cell towers around the edges of the lots. Even with a packed parking area, fans should still be able to get a signal on their way in.

For my early entry time I didn’t see any issues with stadium entry technology, but the lack of metal-detector gates (security personnel used handheld wands to scan each fan as they entered) might be something that slows down the process of getting into the stadium. I did notice larger lines around 3:30 p.m., but like anywhere else the entry procedures will likely only improve with time.

Before coming to Avaya Stadium I downloaded the new team app, which seemed a little bare-bones. Since I didn’t have a ticket I couldn’t test the digital season-ticket integration, but I was able to use the directions to the stadium feature and the stadium map, which provides a helpful picture-view of all amenities that can be found in the U-shaped seating area as well as the open-air bar. The map is interactive, giving you a description of each amenity (bathrooms, team store, etc.) when you touch the associated icon. As of yet there is no way to use the app to pay for concessions or to view any live or archived video. Like other stadium apps, including Levi’s, the Avaya Stadium app will likely grow in functionality over time.

Wi-Fi performance: Great on the concourses, weak in the seats

Just after finding my “exterior press box” seat in possibly the “worst” part of the stands — the upper northwest corner — I quickly saw how Avaya Stadium was going to deliver its Wi-Fi signals to the seating area, by looking up at the metal beams supporting the awnings that are the open-air “roof.” On each beam I could see anywhere from two to three Wi-Fi access points, all targeted directly down at the seats below them. The Avaya Wi-Fi deployment has no under-the-seat APs or any handrail APs that I could see, but there are lots of other APs visible on top of concession stands and other places around the single, ground-level concourse. There are also some APs attached to the huge bar area that spans across the open east end of the stadium. Gaining access to the network was a snap, done by just clicking on the “proceed” button that popped up on the splash screen that appears after you select the “GOQUAKES” SSID on your device. There was no login credential or password required.

The view from our seat, probably the "worst" in the place

The view from our seat, probably the “worst” in the place

How did the network perform? Before the stadium filled up, my rooftop seat had a signal between 5 and 7 Mbps on the download and upload sides, a figure that would decline steadily as the day progressed. Walking down the steep stairs into the largely empty seating bowl, the Wi-Fi speeds decreased, with a couple readings in the 2-3 Mbps download range near the lowest row of seats.

Hungry because I hadn’t had lunch, I ventured out past the huge end-zone bar to a large grassy area that was lined with food trucks and filled with soccer fans having impromptu picnics with lots of kids running around. There were various booths for soccer clubs and from sponsors, as well as a band, which made the area seem (in a good way) more like a county fair than a pro sporting event. I couldn’t get a Wi-Fi connection out on the lawn, but I was able to get a good cellular signal, around 8 Mbps, on my Verizon device (an iPhone 6 Plus). Feeling thirsty I headed to the bar, where Wi-Fi kicked in again, with one signal of 22 Mbps down and 17 Mbps up.

Heading back through the now-crowded concourse toward my seat, I stopped and got a Wi-Fi reading of almost 16 Mbps down and 9 Mbps up, in the middle of a large throng of fans. But I wouldn’t hit that mark again the rest of the afternoon, which makes me wonder how well the network held up under a full-house load.

Up close and personal areas a hit with fans

Panoramic view from the cheering section

Panoramic view from the cheering section

Since I’d never been to a professional soccer game before I decided to soak in as much fan flavor as I could. At Avaya Stadium I headed down to the space behind the west end zone, in the closed end of the stadium, where there are several rows of standing-room only spaces where some of the loudest fans congregated (there was one group with a band, and many flags). Directly above the standing section was a seat section reserved for the team’s ardent followers, many of which spent the entire game standing, cheering, chanting and singing. Down below, I was fortunate enough to be close to the action and saw the Earthquakes’ first goal in their new home arena, a double header off a corner kick.

And though I was able to catch the score on video, because there was basically zero Wi-Fi signal there (I was directly underneath the bottom row of the stands) I wasn’t able to immediately post it to Twitter or Vine. Not that I cared that much, since it was fun to be swept up in the chanting and cheering and streamer-tossing that followed the goal. So even if I wasn’t connected wirelessly, I was certainly connected to the fans right around me — which, I think, is what Avaya Stadium is all about.


I’m no wireless engineer, but I was hardly surprised that the Wi-Fi signal in the seats wasn’t strong; looking way up at the APs on the roof, they seem too far away to be able to provide a high level of connectivity to the seats below, especially the ones closest to field level. Other stadiums we’ve covered in the near past have already either started or are making plans to increase the Wi-Fi APs at field level, since that’s one of the toughest areas to put an AP.

But like in the standing section, I’m not sure that Wi-Fi connectivity is a big deal for fans in the seats during the game action, which in case you’ve not watched soccer, has no breaks like timeouts or inning changes. I’m generalizing here but I think that the continuous-flow of soccer action inherently results in fans who simply watch the game instead of taking breaks to check their phones (Mark Cuban, here’s your sport!). So maybe the expense of bringing Wi-Fi to all the seats at Avaya Stadium isn’t justified.

Halftime view of fans checking phones

Halftime view of fans checking phones

That said, it seemed like during halftime there were a lot of people looking at devices in their stadium seats, but I didn’t hear any howls or complaints or see any obvious frustration. I do know that at my seat on the stadium’s top walkway (which can get very very very windy in the late afternoon) the Wi-Fi signal was weak the whole game, never registering more than 1 Mbps on the download side from the start of the game through the second half.

But again, this is just one phone and one person, a person who was also walking around a lot and connecting to multiple APs, a factor that sometimes makes network connections inconsistent. I did find that turning Wi-Fi off and on again helped get a better signal; when we hear back from the stadium network team we’ll ask if the network has been optimized for roaming connections. I did notice that the beer stand on the top deck just behind my “press box” seat was using cell phones and a payment-device gizmo to take credit card payments; when I asked the staffer running the stand she said she’d been taking payments all game using the regular Wi-Fi and hadn’t had any connectivity issues. So, the connectivity mileage may vary.

DAS to the rescue

Though team executives have talked a lot about the stadium’s networking plans, it would be better for fans right now to have a more realistic estimate of what is going on, and when future enhancements like video and food ordering will become a reality. Some improvement will happen in a big way when Mobilitie gets the neutral-host DAS up and running, since many people never think of joining a stadium Wi-Fi network, they just pull out their phones and hope for the best. With advanced cellular in the building, the connectivity loads will be shared between cellular and Wi-Fi, increasing overall capacity. Sunday, I wasn’t able to get either an AT&T 4G device or my Verizon phone to even register with Speedtest.com to get a figure anywhere inside the stadium using a cellular-only connection. While most fans might have been able to send text messages or get regular voice calls, it’s a good guess that many like me were stymied trying to do simple data tasks like post messages to Twitter. It will be interesting to see what the network folks from Avaya Stadium say when they give us the opening-day report.

Cheers to Avaya Stadium from the end zone bar!

Cheers to Avaya Stadium from the end zone bar!

In the end, my first impression from a wireless point of view is that Avaya Stadium has a basic, average level of connectivity for a new stadium, with enough reasons to believe it’s going to get better over time. I’m also cutting them some slack since the technology supplier for the venue changed wholesale last year when Avaya came in as a title sponsor, leaving just a few short months for Avaya to get its own gear in the building and in working order. Again, I’m no engineer but I did see things like electrical tape holding some antenna connections in place, the kind of stuff you don’t expect to see in a professional stadium deployment.

And while the connectivity didn’t particularly stand out as awesome, it also was good enough in enough places to make sure there wasn’t the dreaded “no signal” issue that could have soured things for lots of fans. In the end, there was so much to like about the facility — even in my top-row seat I felt close to the action on the field — that it’s hard to call the day anything short of a smashing success, especially if you are a Bay area soccer fan who’s had to endure sub-par stadium experiences in the past. Those days are gone, and Avaya Stadium should be a fast favorite place going forward.

LOTS OF PHOTOS BELOW! Click on any picture for a larger image. Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR.

Avaya Stadium, from the employee parking lot

Avaya Stadium, from the employee parking lot

Tailgate action before the game

Tailgate action before the game

Connecting to Wi-Fi was easy

Connecting to Wi-Fi was easy

Interactive stadium map was one of the best things in the app

Interactive stadium map was one of the best things in the app

Wi-Fi APs attached to roof beams

Wi-Fi APs attached to roof beams

More APs, underneath the canopy roof

More APs, underneath the canopy roof

Still more AP views

Still more AP views

Another AP, out on the end of the stanchion

Another AP, out on the end of the stanchion

A view to give perspective on how far away the roof-beam APs are from the stands

A view to give perspective on how far away the roof-beam APs are from the stands

Seats with promo scarves. The team asked fans to donate if they wanted to keep the scarves.

Seats with promo scarves. The team asked fans to donate if they wanted to keep the scarves.

More Wi-Fi APs, on the concourse level. This was above a bathroom entrance.

More Wi-Fi APs, on the concourse level. This was above a bathroom entrance.

Wi-Fi APs atop small building near the open end zone

Wi-Fi APs atop small building near the open end zone

Good view of standing-room area in front of end zone bar. It was packed all game.

Good view of standing-room area in front of end zone bar. It was packed all game.

Panoramic view of the picnic lawn. Hey there Quakes fan!

Panoramic view of the picnic lawn. Hey there Quakes fan!

Fans waiting to get in, about a half hour before game time

Fans waiting to get in, about a half hour before game time

Where the rich folks watch from: Over the gate view of a club level area and their nice buffet

Where the rich folks watch from: Over the gate view of a club level area and their nice buffet

Lots of selfies being taken Sunday

Lots of selfies being taken Sunday

You can see the big screen from just about everywhere in the place -- great resolution

You can see the big screen from just about everywhere in the place — great resolution