SBD/Issue 243/Leagues & Governing Bodies

NFL Teams Improving Stadium Experience To Lure Fans Out Of Homes

New Meadowlands Stadium One Of Several
NFL Stadiums To Have HD Video Boards

Watching NFL games at home has "become so attractive" that the league is "increasingly concerned about making sure that fans consider trips to the stadium to be worth the effort," according to Sean Leahy in a cover story for USA TODAY. The NFL saw a 2.4% "drop in attendance last season, the second consecutive year with a small decline." Technological innovations have "made the at-house experience better, and cheaper, than going to a stadium for many." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has acknowledged that the league "helped to create this situation through its much-envied TV promotions." He added, "It is attractive to sit at home with HDTVs. That makes for a great experience. But it's terrific to be in our stadiums. And we have to bring technology to our stadiums and make that experience better." Leahy notes many teams are "getting aggressive about Goodell's directive to make trips to stadiums more appealing." They are "offering handheld mobile units and smartphone applications that deliver replays, the RedZone Channel, broadcasts of other games, fantasy stats and other information exclusively to fans inside the stadium." The Cowboys last year "set a new standard with a massive overhead HD video board" at Cowboys Stadium, and New Meadowlands Stadium opened this season "with HD boards." The Ravens, Patriots and Redskins also "installed giant HD boards this year that cost millions of dollars and will offer fans not just live action and replays but also the Red Zone Channel." In addition, the Ravens are "among several teams wiring their stadium so fans can use Wi-Fi with their cellphones." Other clubs are "testing mobile units that will allow fans to see replays and other games from their seats." The Patriots are "among the teams trying a free smartphone application called YinzCam that fans in club seats can access via a Wi-Fi network," while the Dolphins "use a handheld unit called FanVision that they distribute to season ticketholders." Kraft Sports Productions Publisher & VP/Content Fred Kirsch "oversaw the Patriots' introduction" of the YinzCam app, and he said that he "expects iPad-like tablets to be essential in future years for fans tracking fantasy teams and other games." NFL Senior VP/Digital Media Brian Rolapp said that the league "doesn't feel conflicted as it pursues what he calls a dual-responsibility strategy to enhance fans' experiences outside and inside stadiums." Rolapp: "We aren't just going to invest on new technologies that serve people at home. We will continue to invest to make the stadium experience better" (USA TODAY, 9/1).

MORE TEAMS ON BOARD: Leahy noted though YinzCam is "only available for fans at Gillette Stadium," Jaguars officials were "on hand to see Yinzcam" during last Thursday's Rams-Patriots preseason game. Kirsch said that "several other teams have asked the Patriots for input about creating their own app" (USATODAY.com, 8/31). Meanwhile, Texans President Jamey Rootes said that his team "hasn't ruled out installing a similar video board" to the one at Cowboys Stadium "that would overhang the field at Reliant Stadium" (USATODAY.com, 8/31).  

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