SBJ/Feb. 17-23, 2014/In Depth

Like many sports venues, tracks trying to catch up to connectivity

Tracks that host NASCAR events are in the same boat as other major league facilities, partnering with cellular carriers and other companies to upgrade connectivity at their venues.

Both International Speedway Corp. and Speedway Motorsports Inc. are installing new distributed antenna systems and Wi-Fi access points to boost coverage for users of mobile devices.

“We’re marching forward,” ISC President John Saunders said. “We have Wi-Fi already installed at Michigan and Auto Club Speedway. Other tracks will see installations through 2014 into 2015.”

ISC is also working with third-party provider American Tower to improve cellular coverage at its 13 tracks.

Daytona International Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway and Kansas Speedway have implemented those upgrades, and Phoenix International Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway and Auto Club Speedway are next on the list, Saunders said.

Sprint, AT&T and Verizon Wireless are sharing the cost with American Tower at the ISC tracks. The total investment is $52 million to cover all 13 properties, Saunders said.

At Texas Motor Speedway, SMI officials are working to improve connectivity for this year’s NASCAR events, track President Eddie Gossage said. The investment in Fort Worth alone is more than $10 million, Gossage said.

“Arenas and stadiums are small footprints comparably,” he said. “Our fans not only want that [coverage] for the speedway, which is 85 acres, but they want it for the entire 1,500 acres of speedway property. We have 40,000 campers, more than any other speedway, and they all want to connect to their mobile devices. … That’s a lot of bandwidth to cover.”


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