SBJ/Sept. 30-Oct. 7, 2013/NFL Stadium Experience

Don’t make stadiums a sports information vacuum

Washington sports history was about to be made Sept. 9, the first Monday night NFL game of the season. While Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was returning to the field from offseason knee surgery, another D.C.-based athlete, Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez, flirted with the franchise’s first no-hitter.

More than 80,000 Washington-area sports fans — the 82,743 fans attending the Redskins’ game that night — had no idea what was happening with their hometown MLB team, even as Gonzalez took his no-hit bid into the seventh inning. Though the Redskins kept a running loop of NFL scores from the day before next to a sideline scoreboard, the team did not update fans on the Nationals’ victory, a one-hit shutout for Gonzalez. Nor was any FedEx Field mention given to another pennant race game just 30 miles up the road in Baltimore, where Orioles manager Buck Showalter nearly fought with Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

It was the same situation in the Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium six days later. Trying to crawl back into the pennant race, the Orioles were playing a close game in Toronto. But the 71,098 fans attending the game would have little clue that their hometown Orioles were working toward a 3-1 win.

“We don’t usually provide scores of other sports,” a Ravens spokesman emailed days later.

The Ravens kept an updated running scroll of all NFL games that day, complete with statistics. But they ignored their neighbor.

It’s no surprise that these games cater to the NFL — the football teams’ popularity is the only reason so many people attend these games. But most of the attendees are sports fans — or, more specifically, Baltimore sports fans and Washington sports fans. They are there to focus on the Ravens and Redskins. But many would appreciate knowing what’s happening with the other sports franchises in their town. Cell coverage in both stadiums is not good enough to stay updated on other scores. It’s hard to see how quick updates during breaks in play — the same updates fans at home could get — would harm the NFL’s at-game experience.

— John Ourand

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