SBD/November 4, 2013/Facilities

Moda Center's New Wi-Fi Capabilities Encounter Issues During Blazers' Home Opener

Moda Center appeared to be short of a sellout for the Blazers' opener
Trail Blazers officials on Saturday acknowledged that Moda Center's new Wi-Fi capabilities had an "uneven opening performance" during the team's game versus the Spurs, and "vowed it would be better" for tomorrow's game against the Rockets, according to Allan Brettman of the Portland OREGONIAN. While the new system installed over the summer "had undergone a soft opening" for a recent WHL Portland Winterhawks game, it "had not experienced the broadband crunch of thousands packed into the arena." Blazers VP/Engineering & Technology Mike Janes called the Wi-Fi "sporadic." Brettman noted some fans also were "not aware they needed, at least on some smartphones, to enter the device's settings to accept the free Toyota-sponsored WiFi connection." Meanwhile, the team's "altered ticket-selling approach -- essentially resisting past practice of allowing cut-priced tickets to reach the secondary market -- had an obvious impact: empty seats in the arena." Nevertheless, the team's postgame notes "described the 19,980-seat arena as having 20,028 people in attendance and a 'sellout.'" It seemed "odd that some seats appeared to be empty," and in the second half, a Blazers staff member "walked a concourse with a stack of 'white-out' Rip City T-shirts that had been removed from unused seats." The game also "marked the Blazers' debut for four local food suppliers," including Bunk Sandwiches. Bunk co-Owner Nick Brown at one point "sprinted from the arena to a company van to drive to a nearby brick-and-mortar Bunk to retrieve more food for the remainder of the game" (Portland OREGONIAN, 11/3).

THE ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE? Blazers officials including President Chris McGowan for months have said that they "want to upgrade the fan experience this season, from pregame hoopla to in-game amenities." Brettman wrote, "They know the ultimate marketing strategy remains the same: Win, rinse, repeat." But in "lieu of that or, ideally, in addition to that, they want to present a product that at least has the bells and whistles offered at other major pro sports arenas as they battle to increase revenue and keep up with competing markets." For example, fans before Saturday's game had the "chance to get up close and personal" with the team's '77 NBA Championship trophy, which was a "rare public display of fan appreciation using the franchise's ultimate bauble" (Portland OREGONIAN, 11/2).
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