Technology in Sports Stadiums

Mina Kimes of ESPN Magazine on the improving technology in sports stadiums:

There it is again: the “fan experience.” Yet one can’t help but wonder: Who truly benefits from this experience – fans or owners? Hundreds of sports-tech stories quote vendors and executives, but we rarely hear from fans. Do they mind having their faces scanned? Are they really clamoring for instant replay on their phones? According to Extreme Networks, which tracks data usage in stadiums, the vast majority of people who use the Internet during games are on social networks, not their teams’ apps.

Definitely don’t want my face scanned. Instant replay on my phone? ABSOLUTELY! The caveat here is that the data service in the stadium must be good enough to allow the replays to be viewable. At the White Sox games especially, there are a multitude of problems with replays. First they don’t show that many replays. Second, the video board is small for 2015. And third, there are many seats that don’t face it or are too far away to be able to see enough detail.

I often turn to social media for explanations of a call or because I want to know why someone came out of the game or what someone was arguing about. That isn’t to say that I don’t use social media in a traditional sense. Part of the reason people during the games are using social media is because there isn’t a reason to use something else. MLB’s new Ballpark app is a prime example. Sure it gives you bonuses for checking in, and a chance to see some highlights, but it provides nothing beyond that. Give me value for using it during games and I will.

I think this is an untapped market. All of the things you can do at the 49ers new stadium, seeing bathroom lines, food lines, even ordering food from your seat, these are the things that would make using a stadium-specific app worth it. The demand is there, but the supply is so crappy that no one is using it.