San Jose Earthquakes’ Avaya Stadium will have Wi-Fi for ‘soft’ preseason opener

Practice on the pitch at Avaya Stadium in San Jose. Credit all photos: Avaya (click on any photo for a larger image)

Practice on the pitch at Avaya Stadium in San Jose. Credit all photos: Avaya (click on any photo for a larger image)

Keeping in tune with its Silicon Valley location, the San Jose Earthquakes‘ new Avaya Stadium will have a bit of a “beta” launch this weekend when the Quakes host the Los Angeles Galaxy for a 2 p.m. preseason match on Feb. 28, with only 10,000 fans being allowed into the brand-new 18,000-seat venue.

While all the bells and whistles for Avaya Stadium may not be in place yet, one thing will be at full strength for the preseason tilt — the stadium’s free fan-facing Wi-Fi network. With 180 Wi-Fi access points from Wi-Fi gear supplier Ruckus Wireless and a 10 Gbps backbone pipe, the network should be ready for the first batch of selfies and other communications from the Bay area’s newest sports stadium, located right next to the San Jose airport a little bit south and west of the San Francisco 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium.

If the Avaya Stadium app gets finalized in time, fans who attend Saturday’s game will be able to use the “Phase 1” features which include ticketing, parking and concession information. According to Peter Thompson, managing director of global sponsorship for Avaya, a follow-on phase of the app will add in-game statistics, among other features being considered. Thompson said the unfinished feeling to the app is a bit by design, since Avaya and Earthquakes officials want to first get some fan feedback on things they’d like to have in an interactive platform.

In-stadium message board touts the Wi-Fi

In-stadium message board touts the Wi-Fi

“We’re trying to make this collaborative,” Thompson said in a phone interview Friday afternoon, following the official ribbon-cutting ceremonies at the stadium. “We’ll be looking for fans to tell us what they want [in the app] and see which ideas float to the top.”

And even though the crowd this weekend will be limited to 10,000 fans, Thompson is quite sure the network will see almost 10,000 devices access it, from fans as well as those from media at the game. Fans may want to switch to the Wi-Fi network early, since according to Thompson there isn’t yet a distributed antenna system (DAS) deployment inside Avaya Stadium, which might make cellular communications a bit constrained.

And even if the Avaya Stadium app launches in time for the game, Thompson isn’t sure it will be the most-used application. When Avaya ran networking operations for the recent Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Thompson said iTunes and DropBox were at the top of the list.

“It [app usage] wasn’t what we expected, it wasn’t Facebook or Twitter [at the top],” Thompson said. “It will be interesting to see what happens.”

We will have stats from the Avaya Stadium network following the preseason match as well as the sold-out home opener on March 22. More photos from the stadium below.

Panoramic view of the field

Panoramic view of the field

Good look at the steep pitch of stands

Good look at the steep pitch of stands

Big scoreboard atop open-air bar area. Sure to be popular, with many beer taps available!

Big scoreboard atop open-air bar area. Sure to be popular, with many beer taps available!

Let's hope this grass holds up better than some other stadium turf we have seen

Let’s hope this grass holds up better than some other stadium turf we have seen

Soon to be full of soccer fans!

Soon to be full of soccer fans!

Stadium for next U.S. World Cup game will have Ruckus-powered Wi-Fi available

Talk about luck of the draw: Fans of the U.S. men’s soccer team who are on hand for the squad’s next game on Tuesday, July 1, should be able to use a Ruckus Wireless-powered Wi-Fi network at the 51,900-seat Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil.

As MSR reported last year, Ruckus Wireless won contracts to supply the Wi-Fi gear for at least two of the stadiums being used in the World Cup tournament. One of those was Arena Fonte Nova, which will now host the USA-Belgium tilt in the elimination round. And with U.S. fans leading the way in on-scene participation in the World Cup, it’s a good bet that the Arena Fonte Nova network will get a workout on Wi-Fi since it’s probably a good guess that cellular roaming fees might be prohibitive. (We say this having no idea what the roaming charges might be for U.S. carriers in Brazil; but if the Wi-Fi is free, we can say without a doubt that’s the cheaper option.)

According to Ruckus the Wi-Fi network at the arena (which is also called the Estadio Octavio Mangabeira) will have about 150 access points, which to us sounds a bit low for full stadium coverage for a 51,000-seat arena, but again, we’ve not seen any stats for a Ruckus solution in real-world situations so maybe it’s enough.

With more news about players biting players and Brazilians protesting the World Cup, it’s not surprising that we haven’t heard much in the way of news about performance or non-performance of wireless networks at the numerous stadiums. Unlike an Olympics or a Super Bowl, where you are in one place for a long time, the World Cup seems to be more about sporadic visits to different stadiums, and a lot of travel, and probably a lot more time spent just enjoying the scene rather than worrying about tweeting it or posting to Facebook. And since there is no reliable news source for overall network operations for the World Cup, we don’t have any statistics or performance metrics to report. But so far so good, eh? If anyone knows of any specific problems or reports of poor performance send them our way. And if anyone is in Salvador next week, take a Speedtest of the Wi-Fi and send it along.

ESPN launches updated soccer site, apps, ahead of World Cup

Just in time for the World Cup soccer tournament (which will happen if they ever finish building the stadiums), ESPN has announced an official launch of the newly redesigned website, which the worldwide leader promises will bring “comprehensive multiplatform World Cup coverage from Brazil and around the globe.”

So it’s not just World Cup matches but pretty much anything soccer that you want or need to know will be available via the site as well as through the new ESPN FC app, available for either iPhone or Android. According to ESPN, as the official FIFA U.S. broadcaster, its app will have access to live video highlights “moments after they happen.” Like we said, as long as they finish building the stadiums.

Screen shot of ESPN FC app

Screen shot of ESPN FC app

Another screen shot of the ESPN FC app. Do you have World Cup Fever yet?

Another screen shot of the ESPN FC app. Do you have World Cup Fever yet?

NFL playoff expansion on hold

Playoff games will be a bit more spread around this post season in the NFL as NBC will be adding a divisional round game and ESPN will be getting a Wild Card game. The ESPN game will be also broadcast over the air in the cities of the two teams that are playing.

Meanwhile the talk of expansion of the playoffs looks like it has been delayed, at least in the near term. NY Giants team president John Mara spoke to Newsday and said that he believed that the earliest additional post season games would be added would be in 2015. Commissioner Goodell had been pushing for this year.

NFL Players to land Tweet deal
Fans quite often follow their favorite athletes on Twitter, or at least ones that might make outspoken or interesting statements. Well now they may say something along the lines of “This Tweet brought to you by…”

A deal between the NFL Players Inc. and digital marketing company Opendorse will work to get endorsement deals for players who will be paid to tout the products via Twitter. According to Sports Business Journal Opendorse has already signed 200 players.

Top NFL Draft misses?
One of the byproducts of the huge NFL mock draft industry is that it sometimes makes some glaring mistakes. I think that most fans have a love/hate relationship with top online and broadcast mock drafters and really enjoy bringing up this topic.

Awful Announcing has complied just that type of list and leads off a historcial gem with Mel Kiper saying that JaMarcus Russell, the Oakland Raiders top draft selection in 2007 is the next John Elway. It just gets better after that but a few I was hoping to see did not make the cut, which may say something about the number of mock draft failures.

World Cup teams have needs too
Who knew that World Cup teams had demands that will most likely force rock stars to improve their game when it comes to making demands from the hotels where the teams stay. Kosher meat, fresh bananas from your native country and only liquid soap, none of that old fashion bar soap, which is apparently not good enough for the French.

According to SB Nation many are demanding the televisions carry broadcasts from home with Honduras demanding six Spanish speaking stations. Japan needs a Jacuzzi in every room. And I thought that Van Halen was demanding because they did not want brown M&Ms.

MLB streaming comes to Google Chromecast

You can now add Google Chromecast to the platforms that stream Major League Baseball broadcasts in the U.S. Subscribers of MLB.TV who own one of the Chromecast sticks that plug into the back of many modern televisions will be very happy.

MLB.TV enables fans to watch home and away games of out of market teams and once subscribed can use not only the Chromecast but also smartphones and tablets to watch games. Be sure to check what qualifies as an out of market team since some areas such as Las Vegas are claimed by multiple teams.

English Premier League gains additional network partners for finals
The Premier League will now be available on additional channels as NBCUniversal has opened up its family of stations to the broadcast of the league’s finale that will consist of 10 matches held on May 11.

It now plans to simultaneously broadcast the games not only on NBC and NBCSN but also on Bravo, Syfy, Oxygen, USA, CNBC, MSNBC, Esquire Network and E!, channels better known for broadcasting anything but exciting soccer.

Rate the MLB announcers
It may be a bit late to join all of the fun but over at Awful Announcing they are having a contest to rate all of Major League Baseball’s individual broadcast teams. It has been ongoing for a few days but is still worth checking in to see how your favorite, or least favorite voices are doing. Do you like or detest homers, are some too bland, off message or just plain head scratching? Time to make your opinion known! The national broadcast teams on stations such as ESPN and Fox Sports will not be included in this poll.

Google lays out details for modular smartphone
Last year when Google first started talking about its “Project Ara” we did not pay that much attention since it was basically just some mockup photos and not much detail. Last week the company put meat on the Ara bones and started explaining what its intentions are in that area.

The goal of the project is simple but grandiose; it wants to revolutionize the smartphone market, and in 1 year. The idea is very simply, a phone that has a number of replaceable components that a user can select to include in their version of the phone. Think of a Lego phone as a comparable. Users could swap in processors, memory, storage and even type of connectors.

USA Today offers rare sports prints
USA Today has launched an endeavor called the USA Today Sports store and to kick it off it is offering customers a chance to buy a select number of images taken of Muhammad Ali early in his career that originally came from the Courier-Journal in Louisville.

While these images will be available for a silent auction fundraiser to benefit the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute this weekend there are a large number of images available at thestore.

Friday Grab Bag: Where is the MLS TV deal?

For those of you who managed to miss it the Major League Soccer season started recently and its broadcast contract, which many had expected to be finalized sometime last winter, is still unfinished business.

Awful Announcing does a good job pointing out the issues, which have to do with how each side perceives itself. An interesting note showing the increasing popularity of the sport is that the average MLS attendance is greater than the NBA or NHL’s.

Android flaws could make upgrades a danger
System updates are a fact of life for most mobile phone users and a recent report from researchers at the System Security Lab at Indiana University and Microsoft have found a vulnerability that could enable hackers to take over Android systems.

It is not a real threat as they did a proof of concept test only but the threat would be in the form of an app that waits for a system update and then takes gains access for privileges that it had not had previously. Interestingly it only works if you have a fairly old version of Android running.

FIFA Exec paid millions for votes
If you ever wondered how sun-baked Qatar managed to win approval to host the World Cup during its summer this story might help explain it: FIFA executive Jack Warner appears to have made millions off of the deal.

According to a piece in the Telegraph a Quatari company paid Warner millions after the country won the vote. The Big Lead has a list of his apparent transgressions over the past few years that shows a long history of shady dealings.

NBA pondering new TV deal
MLS is not the only sport that is taking its time in finalizing its next broadcast deal as the NBA is also taking a leisurely approach on its current round of negotiations. However the NBA is in a much stronger position.

According to the Sports Business Daily there are a number of interesting options being considered at this time including adding an additional broadcasting partner, bringing its digital rights in-house and moving NBA on TNT off of Thursday night. It looks like big changes are in the works.

Drones can read Wi-Fi messages?

A report in the International Business Times is saying that you should turn off your smartphone’s Wi-Fi because drones that are flying overhead can monitor the conversation, using a pretty simple trick that I think many of us would fall for.

A drone overhead could present itself as a free Wi-Fi network, something that phones are constantly looking for. Then if a user connects it can intercept traffic. Boy would they be bored with reading my stuff.

Love baseball and need a date? MLB has you covered!
Major League Baseball has joined forces with online dating site to create club-focused singles pages, because apparently there was a need for this. I am not kidding it seems that some rabid fans, say Yankee fans, whose first question is to ask “Who hates the Red Sox?” [editor’s note: insert joke for “getting to first base” here.]

It will be interesting to see how this works; maybe MLB could do the same for the Dungeons and Dragons crowd, or even a dating site set up for stats nerds, which is almost the same as the D&D group.