wifi box under a seat at the new Levi's Stadium in
Santa Clara, Calif., on Thursday, July 31, 2014.
There are boxes throughout the stadium, roughly
every 100 seats
CLARA, Calif. ó Along with their replica jerseys,
homemade signs and foam "Weíre No. 1"
fingers, football fans will want to take one other
essential piece of gear when they attend games at the
new Leviís Stadiumóa smartphone.
to a new app and a technological infrastructure that
many analysts say will be second-to-none, that
smartphone will be an indispensable game-day tool.
will be able to pull up their ticket on their phone to
get into the stadium, order food through it to be
delivered directly to their seat ó no matter where
they are sitting ó and watch replays of the latest
game action. Thanks to a high-capacity network and an
in-stadium antenna system, fans will be able to use
their phones to check sports scores from around the
league, get updates on their fantasy football teams and
message selfies to their friends.
an era of smart cars, smart TVs and smart homes, the
49ers "wanted to make this a smart stadium,"
said Al Guido, the teamís chief operating officer.
a team based in the heart of Silicon Valley, the 49ers
devoted a sizable chunk of their $1.3 billion stadium
budget to technological features. The 49ers declined to
say exactly how much they spent on particular items, but
last year estimated they would spend about $125 million
on technology, up from an initial $50 million budget.
of the flashier features will be obvious to fans ó
such as two giant scoreboards and hundreds of
flat-screen TVs, including a 108-inch screen in one of
the stadiumís restaurants. However, much of the
technology will be hidden from view in a
state-of-the-art computer network that would make many a
tech startup jealous.
network includes about 680 Wi-Fi access points ó one
for every 100 seats in the stadium ó and 12,000
Ethernet ports, which allow everything from phone
systems to video cameras to connect. It also includes a
superfast 40-gigabit-per-second fiber-optic cable
"backbone" that connects the stadiumís
network to the broader Internet. Thatís 10,000 times
faster than what federal regulators classify as
cutting-edge feature of the stadium is a collection of
about 1,700 high-tech "beacons." Using the
latest version of Bluetooth, the technology that
connects your phone to your wireless headset, these
beacons can be used to pinpoint consumersí locations
inside the venue to provide them directions.
donít think itís too much of a stretch to say that
at opening day, (Leviís) will probably be the most
advanced stadium, maybe in all of sports," said
Paul Kaputska, editor-in-chief of Mobile Sports Report,
which closely tracks technological features of sporting
stadiumís communications network and beacon system
will link to an app that plugs into the 49ersí
customer database, helping the team to deliver
personalized information to fans. For example, the app
will be able use the system of Bluetooth beacons to
point fans to the bathrooms and concession stands
nearest their seats. And it will give fans inside the
stadium access to up to four video replays of each play
streamed over the network from 13 different cameras.
49ers plan to use the app to direct arriving fans to the
parking lot and entrance closest to their seats, and to
redirect them to other lots if those parking spaces fill
up. When fans enter the stadium, information gleaned
from the app could allow ticket takers to greet them by
the app, the team hopes to eliminate some of the biggest
frustrations fans face in attending live sporting
events, team officials say. They want to help fans get
into and out of the stadium as efficiently as possible,
help them find their way around the stadium easily, help
them get food and drinks quickly, and to provide them
with replays to watch if they missed a play, said Dan
Williams, the teamís vice president of technology.
we can solve those four simple things ... we feel thatís
something real fans would just want to have," he
Lawler, a 54-year-old new season ticket holder from Los
Gatos, said sheís looking forward to the instant
replay feature. "Thatís going to be really cool
to have," she said.
STORY CAN END HERE)
features likely will prove popular, too, analysts say.
Rohit Mehra, an analyst with tech research firm IDC,
said fans especially will appreciate directions to the
probably more important than where I can get my beer,
because when youíve got to go, youíve got to
go," he said.
also will be able to use the communications network to
surf the Web, check their email and watch nongame
videos. A cellular antenna system inside the stadium
should allow them to make calls and send text messages
as well, which can be a challenge when thousands of
people are clustered together.
49ers are among a growing number of sports teams who are
turning to technology to connect with fans. The San
Francisco Giants have an extensive Wi-Fi network at
AT&T Park, for example. And two years ago, the
Warriors put in place a Wi-Fi network at Oaklandís
Oracle Arena and launched their own smartphone app.
feel pressure to include such features because fans,
particularly younger ones, have grown accustomed to
being able to use their smartphones anywhere and
everywhere, and expect to have that same access inside
sporting venues, analysts say.
thereís not yet a lot of hard evidence that high-tech
features are influencing things such as ticket or
concession sales or how long fans stay at the game.
"Iím not sure that theyíre game changers,"
said Chad McEvoy, professor and graduate program
director in Syracuse Universityís Department of Sports
for example, works in tech ó sheís Intuitís chief
privacy officer ó but said itís not technology thatís
drawing her to the stadium or what will keep her coming
most important thing is having a great experience,"
she said, adding that that was more influenced by how
well the team is playing, how easy it is to see the
action on the field and the quality and diversity of
you can bet that Lawler will be bringing her smartphone
with her to the games.