US Bank Stadium opens with packed house for soccer game, packed lines for trains

US Bank Stadium during its opening event, Aug. 3. Credit all photos: Pat Coyle, AmpThink (click on any photo for a larger image)

US Bank Stadium during its opening event, Aug. 3. Credit all photos: Pat Coyle, AmpThink (click on any photo for a larger image)

The grand opening event for US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis was futbol, not football, but the friendly between legendary clubs AC Milan and Chelsea still provided a packed house as 64,101 fans filled the Vikings’ new home Wednesday in what local media reports called a generally successful debut.

With any new stadium — and especially with flashy new stadiums like US Bank — there are always unexpected issues that arise when you finally fill the place with ticket buyers. Though we weren’t there, a good amount of reporting from the local paper and scans of social media found generally favorable reviews of the building itself, especially the natural-light atmosphere fostered by the large glass roof (OK, it’s actually an advanced plastic roof).

Among scattered reports of food shortages at concession stands, and foot-traffic issues probably caused by many fans taking just-in-the-door selfies, there were visual confirmations that the Vikings’ plan to have fans use light rail to get to the stadium suffered from some of the issues that plagued Levi’s Stadium early on: Not enough trains or cars on trains to handle the big post-game crush.

Apparently plans we heard to offer overflow bus service haven’t yet materialized, but now the stadium operators have some real data to use to prepare for the first Vikings game, an Aug. 28 preseason tilt, followed on Sept. 18 with the first regular-season game at US Bank Stadium, versus the Vikings’ main rivals, the Green Bay Packers.

The new app built for US Bank Stadium by VenueNext was available for download, but it didn’t include any ability for fans to order food from the app either for express pickup or in-seat delivery during Wednesday’s game. According to VenueNext, express pickup and in-seat delivery services will start during the Vikings preseason games, starting first in small select areas and later expanding to more parts of the stadium.

We also didn’t get any speed tests of the Wi-Fi or cellular networks in the building, so if you were there, let us know how the wireless worked (or didn’t). We would like to thank Pat Coyle from AmpThink for the on-the-scene photos below.

Giant video board shows the packed house

Giant video board shows the packed house

Can you spot the railing-mounted Wi-Fi APs?

Can you spot the railing-mounted Wi-Fi APs?

Good view of the glass (OK, advanced plastic) roof

Good view of the glass (OK, advanced plastic) roof

VenueNext's 'Kezar' scanners in operation at US Bank Stadium

VenueNext’s ‘Kezar’ scanners in operation at US Bank Stadium

Mobile device use was heavy as expected

Mobile device use was heavy as expected

How many selfies? Answer: A lot

How many selfies? Answer: A lot

Wi-Fi a winner at Avaya Stadium’s MLS All-Star game

Just before game time at Avaya Stadium for the 2016 MLS All Star game. Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR

Just before game time at Avaya Stadium for the 2016 MLS All Star game. Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, MSR

On the pitch it was the Arsenal lads emerging victorious over by a 2-1 score over the Major League Soccer All-Stars, but in the stands it was Avaya Stadium’s Wi-Fi network that won the day at the 2016 MLS All-Star game Thursday in San Jose, Calif.

Unlike a year ago at the Avaya Stadium opening, when we found the fan-facing Wi-Fi a bit lacking, the Wi-Fi network performed at top speeds for almost all of our tests during an MSR “walkaround” before and during the MLS All-Star game. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same about the cellular network performance in and around Avaya Stadium, with many signals so weak on both the AT&T and Verizon Wireless networks that in most places we couldn’t conduct a speed test.

Leaving behind the question as to why there hasn’t been a DAS installed yet at Avaya Stadium, it was great to see the Wi-Fi network consistently hit download and upload speeds in the mid- to high-20+ Mbps range in just about every spot of the U-shaped soccer-centric arena. In the main seating areas, in the concourses below the stands as well as around the huge open-air bar there was solid connectivity, fueled by what looked like a lot more APs than we saw during vists to the venue last year.

While some of the AP installs looked like last-minute fixes (we saw several instances where paper binder clips were used in Phil Mickelson fashion to secure wiring to metal beams) there was certainly a noticeable amount of extra equipment, especially on the stanchions that loom out over the seating area. There, it seemed like every beam or at least every other beam had three sets of paired APs, which no doubt helped produce a speed test of 28.93/27.44 we took in the middle of the seating area (of section 120, in the closed end zone). Last year, it was a challenge to get a good reading in the middle of the seats.

The top speed test we got Thursday night was outside a sausage stand at one corner of the open end zone, where the meter hit 44.00/33.49 just before game time. We were also impressed by the consistent coverage at the huge outdoor bar in the open end zone, helped no doubt by APs on the top of the bar roof on each end, and three APs per side above the bar server areas.

Somewhat ironically the only place we couldn’t get a Wi-Fi signal was in our assigned “press box” seat, actually the upper back corner in the southwest part of the stadium. While we are guessing the problem may have been due to press-laptop overload (or some APs missing from what looked like normal install points), we noticed that by walking one section away from the press section we were able to reconnect with the regular stadium Wi-Fi network at a reading of 18.27/20.38.

One of the many 'doubled' AP installs we saw

One of the many ‘doubled’ AP installs we saw

Most of the 18,000+ fans in the sellout crowd seemed to have no issues connecting to the Internet, as we saw fans heads-down on their devices in all parts of the venue. We did talk to one fan at halftime who said the lack of cellular connectivity outside the main gate kept him from being able to call up his digital tickets on his phone.

“But once I got inside I connected to Wi-Fi and everything was fine,” he said.

On the upper deck walkways we did finally get a fairly strong AT&T 4G LTE signal — 8.23/8.93 — which may have been due to a clear line of sight to the “eyeball” antenna we saw deployed in the VIP parking lot. And while we could make calls and send texts on our Verizon phone 4G LTE connection, trying to load a web page took so long we gave up. Moral of the story is for Avaya Stadium fans: Make sure you hit the GOQUAKES SSID as soon as you’re near the stadium!

Enjoy the rest of our photos from our quick trip to San Jose, and know that while beers may cost $12.50 and shots of Jameson’s may set you back $12 each, at this year’s All-Star game all the Arsenal cheers and songs you ever wanted to hear were free of charge.

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APs like this ringed the lower concourse wall areas

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When the players walk through the concourse to take the pitch, it’s snapshot city

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At the huge end zone bar, it was SRO all day long

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AP visible in middle of roof section of bar

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Pictures and selfies were the order of the day

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The famed sausage stand AP with the 44 down reading. The bratwurst was good, too

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The Avaya Stadium social media wall

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Staying connected in the stands

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Nice view from the upper deck

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I think if I stuck around this group for one more beer I could have learned at least three Arsenal songs

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AT&T eyeball antenna sighting in the VIP parking lot

Futbol Fans like Wi-Fi: Barcelona vs. ManU match at Levi’s Stadium uses 2.62 TB

ManU and Barca at Levi's Stadium. All photos: Levi's Stadium.

ManU and Barca at Levi’s Stadium. All photos: Levi’s Stadium.

It was futbol, not football, that drew 68,416 fans to Levi’s Stadium July 25 for a match between European powerhouses FC Barcelona and Manchester United, a game that finished in a 3-1 ManU victory and with 2.62 terabytes of Wi-Fi data used, according to the Levi’s Stadium networking crew.

With fans arriving early for the 1 p.m. start the Wi-Fi measurements were taken over 7 hours from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to Roger Hacker, senior manager, corporate communications for the San Francisco 49ers, who own and operate Levi’s Stadium. During that period there were 25,643 unique users of the stadium’s Wi-Fi network, with the maximum number of concurrent users of 18,322 taking place five minutes after the game’s start.

Action from the pitch!

Action from the pitch!

The Wi-Fi peak usage bandwidth of 2.966 Gbps was reached five minutes later, no doubt as the sellout crowd started sending the pictures and videos they took of the start of the match. The average Wi-Fi bandwidth used during the 7 measured hours of the event was 1.584 Gbps, according to the Niners.

Though the Wi-Fi usage didn’t come close to the stadium record mark of 4.5 TB set at WrestleMania 31 in March, or even the high-water Wi-Fi mark for football set on Sept. 14 at last year’s regular season home opener against the Chicago Bears, it did eclipse some football Wi-Fi totals near the end of last season, showing that soccer fans will find and use Wi-Fi even though their sport has much less non-active time than American football.

One event on the Levi’s Stadium calendar that may dwarf even WrestleMania for Wi-Fi usage is the upcoming Taylor Swift concerts Aug. 14 and 15; it will be interesting to see how Taylor Swift fans use the network, and if they can surpass WWE fans even though it looks like the stadium will have fewer available seats because of the concert stage setup.

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Ruckus Wireless scores Wi-Fi deployment deal at UK soccer stadium

Crane helps with Wi-Fi install at the AMEX stadium. Credit all photos: Ruckus Wireless

Crane helps with Wi-Fi install at the AMEX stadium. Credit all photos: Ruckus Wireless

Ruckus Wireless scored a Wi-Fi gear deployment deal at the 35,000-seat American Express Community Stadium in Falmer, Brighton, East Sussex, England (UK), as part of a new fan-facing network being deployed by service provider The Cloud.

According to Ruckus, it has supplied approximately 100 access points that were deployed on the roof structures at “The AMEX” to bring Wi-Fi connectivity to the fans of the Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, the Seagulls. The Cloud used Ruckus ZoneFlex outdoor APs in its design, and is also using two Ruckus ZoneDirector 5000 controllers for management, as well as the Ruckus SmartCell Insight analytics platform, according to Ruckus.

At a recent match, Ruckus claimed the network saw more than 13,000 devices connected to the Wi-Fi network concurrently. In a press release, a team executive said having free Wi-Fi was a key feature wanted by fans:

“Our fans want to get online — everything from catching up on scores to uploading videos from the stands. The ability to get online has become a big part of match day,” said Paul Barber, CEO at Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club. “For us, mobile is a great way of bringing the fans closer to the action and there‚Äôs an opportunity to expand on that in the future with competitions, games or other interactive tools. Having fast, free Internet across the ground is key to engaging with fans.”

Close-up of Wi-Fi APs

Close-up of Wi-Fi APs

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

Avaya boots Ruckus from San Jose Earthquakes’ new stadium Wi-Fi deal

Crowds at Avaya Stadium during the venue's first game on Feb. 28. Credit all photos: Avaya

Crowds at Avaya Stadium during the venue’s first game on Feb. 28. Credit all photos: Avaya

While it hasn’t been announced publicly, the year-ago agreement to have Ruckus Wireless provide the Wi-Fi gear at the new San Jose Earthquakes stadium got the boot when networking gear and services provider Avaya stepped up with a $20 million naming-rights deal that also apparently includes using Avaya equipment, not Ruckus, for the in-house wireless network.

Since we haven’t yet been to the new Avaya Stadium we weren’t able to look around to see whose label was on the Wi-Fi APs when we reported that the network was live for the team’s “soft” opening, a preseason game on Feb. 28. As it turns out, we erroneously said Ruckus gear was being used for the network but have since been contacted by Avaya folks who told us that wasn’t the case. According to an Avaya spokesperson, the entire Wi-Fi network at the stadium, including APs, is Avaya gear.

When we asked a Ruckus spokesperson earlier this spring about the network, the only thing that person said was that the Earthquakes asked Ruckus not to comment on the network; until today, Ruckus had not announced publicly that it was no longer the Wi-Fi supplier at the now-named Avaya Stadium.

Here was the email reply we got today from Mark Priscaro, global public relations manager for Ruckus:

The San Jose Earthquakes recently consummated a naming deal for their new stadium, and it’s our understanding that Avaya is in charge of all networking, including Wi-Fi. It was a marketing deal on behalf of the Earthquakes, and not technology-driven. Avaya, with the approval of and authorization from the San Jose Earthquakes, chose to deploy their own Wi-Fi network infrastructure, which does not include Ruckus Wireless products or technology.

The Avaya spokesperson said the Wi-Fi network at the new arena worked well for the preseason opener, and will be fully operational at the team’s MLS home season opener on March 22. Mobilitie is the neutral host provider for the stadium’s DAS deployment, which is still under construction.