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Volume 22 No. 44
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Dolphins working on tech upgrades for Sun Life Stadium

Don Muret
The Miami Dolphins are developing technology upgrades for Sun Life Stadium with a focus on creating a cutting-edge experience for premium patrons.

Six years ago, the Dolphins installed Cisco’s StadiumVision IPTV concourse display system, plus the tech vendor’s digital audio and voice messaging platforms, at their 75,450-seat stadium, becoming one of the first big league teams to do so. Those systems are now outdated, and team officials are working with the tech vendor to migrate to the latest technology, said Tery Howard, the Dolphins’ senior vice president and chief technology officer.

The Dolphins were among the first to put Cisco’s IPTV system throughout their stadium.
The technology upgrades are part of the team’s proposed $400 million stadium renovation, pending governmental approval of public money to help finance the project. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has committed to privately financing the majority of the project, but without public funds the tech improvements will not be made, Howard said.

In the 190 suites, the intent is to replace phones with computer tablets to order food and drink and to put in new smart televisions with the ability to Skype, the online video communication network, for corporate meetings.

During the past several months, the Dolphins, in conjunction with AT&T, upgraded the stadium’s Wi-Fi and distributed antenna systems, providing the infrastructure required to support Skype.

To remain on the leading edge of technology, the Dolphins are moving to a “virtual concierge” environment in the suites, where premium patrons control more of the experience inside their hospitality space, Howard said.

The Dolphins also would like to feature StadiumVision Mobile, Cisco’s latest wireless platform, at the stadium this fall.

Day and night, brick by brick
at Niners’ new home

Work continues in Santa Clara, Calif., on the San Francisco 49ers’ new stadium, scheduled to open next year. The 49ers reportedly will begin selling commemorative bricks March 1 that will help fund construction of the $1.2 billion project.
StadiumVision Mobile, integrated within a mobile application tied to the team and its facility, provides live video and replays with unique camera views for users of mobile devices (SportsBusiness Journal, Feb. 11-17).

The wiring tied to the original StadiumVision network would reduce the investment, compared with a building installing IPTV for the first time.

“One of the biggest price points is cabling and labor,” Howard said. “It’s in place already, so it’s just a matter of swapping equipment in and out.”

> DOME’S DAY: The Super Bowl blackout could have been much longer if stadium officials had not been prepared to deal with a power outage during the game, said Doug Thornton, SMG’s senior vice president at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Three weeks before the Super Bowl, about 35 stadium workers and electricians participated in the exercise SMG ran at the dome to simulate a loss of power in the building, Thornton said. It is one of several drills SMG runs every year to prepare for potential terrorist attacks, cyber sabotage, power outages and other emergency situations.

“We simulated an event almost identical to what happened,” Thornton said. “Sure enough, we had to go through the same protocol. We even wrote the script [for the drill and used during the game] to give to the PA announcers to read when the power went out.”

Separately, the NFL and stadium officials conducted a tabletop session one week before the Super Bowl at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans to discuss situations tied to crisis management.

With both sessions fresh in their minds, SMG, working with Entergy, the dome’s energy provider, got the main power supply up and running 18 minutes after the initial loss of electricity.

It took 23 minutes to get most of the stadium’s power operating again on the west side of the dome, where the outage occurred. An additional nine minutes passed before the scoreboards, LED screens and telecommunications systems were back online, Thornton said.

“We received emails from the people who know these systems telling us it was remarkable that we got it back up in 23 minutes,” he said.

> CENTER STAGE: Despite the power outage, Centerplate posted a Super Bowl per cap of $91.45 for food and beverage, a record for the game, company officials said. Gross sales were about $6.5 million based on official game attendance of 71,024.

Don Muret can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @breakground.