SBJ/April 15-21, 2013/Franchises

Ballpark data network slated for upgrades

The Washington Nationals have struck a multiyear deal with Comcast Business, a unit of Comcast Cable, to develop an improved high-speed data network at Nationals Park.

The new, Ethernet-based network will support the club’s internal data needs, including the content on its main video board and the ballpark’s press box, and significantly boost the existing Wi-Fi network accessible by fans. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the deal includes a marketing component in addition to development of the data network.

The Nationals-Comcast alignment comes as MLB Advanced Media leads an effort to boost venue connectivity at all 30 MLB ballparks. Data demand there continues to mushroom, fueled by social media, video streaming, mobile food ordering and many other activities.

“We’re essentially seeing a doubling of demand for data on a year-over-year basis,” said Jason Zachariah, Nationals chief technology officer. “The D.C. market is a technology leader, and it was incumbent upon us to have a network that represents that status.”

Comcast Business has struck similar alignments with the Boston Red Sox for Fenway Park and the Philadelphia Phillies for Citizens Bank Park.

“It’s obvious the bandwidth needs at these facilities have totally exploded,” said Bill Stemper, Comcast Business president. “We have seen a run-up in the last 12 months for us working with MLB teams, and expect we’ll be continuing to talk with many teams about their connectivity.”

Also: Nationals cash in on success, sign 22 deals

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