Stadium Technology

By Martin J. Greenberg and Jon M. Tyus

I.  IntroductionStadium Technology | Sport$Biz | Martin J. Greenberg Sports Attorney

For decades, the stadium experience has been a staple of professional and intercollegiate athletics. Men, women, and children across the world have cherished the opportunity to see their favorite teams and athletes compete live and in person. Athletes across all sports have shattered long-standing records and have gotten bigger, faster, and stronger, which has led to an unprecedented amount of interest and fan engagement. Today, fans require more than a superb on-field product. Instead, they require a magnificent overall experience, which has forced stadium developers to get bigger, better, and bolder.

II.  Demographic Changes and the Motivation for Technology Advancements

A. Demographic Changes

America is facing monumental demographic shifts in its population. In fact, the largest living generation has shifted from Baby Boomers (Ages 51-69) to Millennials (ages 18-34).[1] According to the United States Census Bureau population estimate released in April of 2016, the number of Millennials increased to 75.4 million, which exceeds the 74.9 million Baby Boomers.[2] Further, Generation X (ages 35-50) is projected to exceed the Baby Boomers by 2028.[3]

Consequently, the sports industry is facing a significant transition in the demographics of stadium attendees. The “Baby Boomer” generation, which includes individuals born from 1946 to 1964, has formed the majority of stadium attendees for decades.[4] However, Baby Boomers are an aging population and stadium developers are forced to adapt to a different generation of attendees: Millennials that were born between 1980 and the early 2000s.

Today, Millennials are positioned to out-earn Baby Boomers by 2018, and will possess 2.5 trillion dollars in spending power.[5] Not only are Millennials earning in record numbers, but they are also economically influential. Recent studies indicate that seventy-four percent of Millennials influence the purchase choices of other generations, forty percent of whom use four or more different sources when making purchasing decisions.[6] Accordingly, the competition for earning Millennial dollars remains formidable.

B. Motivation for Technology Advancements in Stadiums and Competition with Technology

Stadium Tecnology and Millennials | Sport$Biz | Martin J. Greenberg Sports LawMarketing to Millennials is a drastic shift away from fans in previous generations, since millennials focus on different aspects when attending sporting events. A recent survey indicated that 25% of Millennials will drive over 60 minutes to attend a game, and 56% of Millennials said they want their game experience to be a full night out, which includes dinner and drinks.[7] The same survey indicated that the most important things to Millennials are an exciting game, great food, and entertainment.[8] Surprisingly, in that same survey, 79% of Millennials indicated that a team’s win/loss record does not impact their decision to purchase tickets.[9]

A study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group entitled “The Millennial Consumer Debunking Stereotypes” revealed that Millennials are very tech-savvy and sophisticated. [10] In fact, Millennials have grown up with technology and social media, and these tools have played substantial roles in all aspects of their lives.[11] With the technological advances in cell phones, televisions, computers, and tablets, sports fans can view events through digital lenses that were not available in previous years. For example, an OLED television, which stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode, provides the viewer with crisp dark blacks in an image, and extremely bright whites, which leads to a vibrant image as well as an enjoyable viewing experience.[12] In addition, cell phones and computers provide a significant amount of web- based applications that allow fans to either livestream sporting events or receive minute-to-minute updates on their favorite teams, players, and coaches. Essentially, technological advancements have led to an unprecedented amount of control for sports fans because fans now can view sporting events at their own convenience. In fact, a Cisco study from 2012 revealed that 57% of sports fans prefer watching the game at home.[13] Ultimately, the convenience afforded by technology has created legitimate alternatives to attending sporting events.

C. Millennial Culture

Today’s Millennials are significantly different sports fans than Baby Boomers or Generation X. In short, they are multitaskers, and consume sports using media platforms including cable networks, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat. As a result, Millennials demand more from a live experience of a sporting event, and have much higher expectations, which include control, interactivity, connectivity, and insider access on their mobile devices.[14] Former IMG College President Ben Sutton explains:

The elusiveness of the 20-something fan is evident at college football games every Saturday. Attendance in the student section at traditional football powerhouses has been declining. University of Georgia students, for example, left 39 percent of the school’s allocated section empty over the last four years. The reasons range from the lack of connectivity in the stadium to high-definition screens at home to other activities that compete for students’ time and attention.[15]

Thus, the in-stadium experience has become a significant focus of stadium developers in collegiate and professional venues.

D. Millennial Culture and Spending

Millennial Spending & Culture | Sport$Biz | Martin J. Greenberg Sports LawMillennial culture represents a drastic shift from a culture that values careers and material possessions, to a culture that values life experiences. Research of Millennials by Eventbrite which allows event organizers to organize, promote and sell tickets to events, revealed:

[T]his generation not only highly values experiences, but they are increasingly spending time and money on them: from concerts and social events to athletic pursuits, to cultural experiences and events of all kinds. For this group, happiness isn’t as focused on possessions or career status. Living a meaningful, happy life is about creating, sharing and capturing memories earned through experiences that span the spectrum of life’s opportunities.[16]

Appropriately, Millennials spend their earnings towards experiences and cultural events, which is a having a substantial impact on the “Experience Economy.” In fact, 3 out of 4 Millennials prefer to spend money on a desirable experience or event, instead of buying a tangible item.[17] Further, 55% of Millennials( according to Harris Poll of 2,083 adults-507 Millennials) say they’re spending more on events and live experiences and 82% of Millennials attended or participated in a variety of live experiences in the past year, including parties, concerts, festivals, performing arts and races and themed sports.[18] Additionally, 72% of Millennials indicate that they would like to increase their spending on experiences rather than physical things in the next year, and 69% of Millennials suggest that some of their best memories are from events and live experiences they attended or participated in.[19]

E. Technology with Ticket Sales and Distribution

Important to an understanding of today’s millennials is an understanding of the significance of one key thing: the smart phone. Today, “[M]illennials account for the largest generational population in the United States. The 83.1 million men and women making up the Millennial generation check their smartphones an average of 43 times per day.”[20] With numerous cellular phone companies such as Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Cricket, cellular phone access has become essential in today’s market. Consequently, professional sports teams have noticed and have adapted. In fact:

The [M]illennials have forced a change because now professional sports teams are competing with technology. The threat to pro sports is the technological advancements,” said Underwood in a phone interview. These enhancements make it very entertaining and enjoyable to watch at home, where fans can use mobile devices to interact with the broadcast.[21]

With the prevalence of cellular phone technology, the competition for Millennial dollars and attention has become increasingly competitive. Accordingly, stadiums, arenas, and ticket companies have adapted. For example, Experience, a mobile ticket technology company, is working with professional sports teams to provide ticket offers to fans, via social media, text-messaging and email through the Experience’s One Pass.[22] By using Experience’s One Pass, “teams sell access to a given event, but delay the delivery of the actual tickets denoting which seat the fan will sit in. This option provides teams with an opportunity to evaluate their ticket inventory closer to game time, maximizing the location of seats offered to fans.”[23] Utilizing this type of technology has allowed teams to successfully sell tickets and increase Millennial presence at sporting events.

Attracting Students to Stadiums | Sport$Biz | Martin J. Greenberg Sports LawOne example of the successful implementation of this technology is the Phoenix Suns. The Phoenix Suns implemented a Student Pass program, where students sign-up through text message to receive tickets to Suns’ games, depending on the availability of tickets.[24] When a student receives a text message, a link is provided to purchase tickets for as low as $5.[25] According to Jessop:

Initially, students receive tickets for standing room only access to the Suns’ arena. However, as game time approaches and the team evaluates inventory, the Suns can relocate the students to seats that would otherwise go unused. In some instances, students paying a mere $5 have been relocated to lower bowl seats.[26]

With the use of the Student Pass, the Suns’ database of Millennial-aged fans has increased from 5,000 to 10,000 people in a one year period.[27]

III. Stadiums and Entertainment Districts

Stadium Entertainment Districts | Sport$Biz | Martin J. Greenberg Sports LawRecently, the construction of new stadiums has included the development of residential and retail spaces in the surrounding areas. Since the financing of stadiums is usually done through a public-private partnership, which involves the use of tax dollars and private funds to finance the project, there is an increasing demand for stadium projects to contain more than just a stadium. Instead, stadium projects are including restaurants, retail stores, theatres, fitness facilities, apartments, hotels and numerous other venues that surround the stadium. For example, the Los Angeles Rams are building a new 70,000 seat stadium on 298 acres of land in Inglewood, California. The stadium project has been hailed as an entertainment, residential, and retail complex, which includes 890,000 square feet of retail space, 780,000 square feet for office use, 2,500 residential units, a 6,000-square-foot performing arts center, plus a 300-room hotel.[28] Another example, is the Golden 1 Arena, the new home of the Sacramento Kings. The new arena will anchor a six-block entertainment and lifestyle district, which includes a sixteen-story hotel and condominium tower, Macys, restaurants, stores, theaters, bowling and other attractions.[29] Fittingly, the city estimates more than a million people a year will attend events at the arena and ten million people are expected to visit the entertainment and lifestyle district.[30]

A. Shift from traditional stadiums to Socially Driven Atmospheres

Sports Entertainment Districts | Sport$Biz | Martin J. Greenberg Sports LawStadium developers are placing a substantial emphasis on the social aspects of stadiums and arenas. Today’s stadiums feature open floor plans, restaurants, lounges, bars, and places to gather during a sporting event. However, stadium developers are finding ways to enhance the social experience at a venue. In the newly finished US Bank stadium, which houses the Minnesota Vikings, developers are in the process of designing “The Purple Club”, a fantasy football zone with couches, high-tech video walls, and an outdoor patio.[31] In Las Vegas, T-Mobile arena has the Toshiba Plaza, which is a two-acre outdoor entertainment area for stadium attendees that includes three 100-inch monitors that show pre-game footage before a game or event.[32] Additionally, the T-Mobile Arena has the “Hyde Lounge”, an 18,000 square-foot nightclub on the top floor of the Arena that attendees can attend before, during, and after an event.[33]

B. Economic Factors

Cities as well as franchise owners are developing advanced stadiums with a critical goal in mind: to generate a substantial economic impact. The new Los Angeles Rams Stadium is projected to cost 2.6 billion dollars.[34] However, the development of the stadium has the potential to generate jobs and millions in revenue. In fact, the entire stadium project is expected to generate 40,000 jobs including construction and continuous operations.[35] Additionally, the project should generate millions of dollars in annual revenue for the city, from sales taxes, ticket taxes, sales-tax revenue from the project’s retail operations, property taxes, and a hotel occupancy tax. [36]

Sports Arenas Economic Factors | Sport$Biz | Martin J. GreenbergRecently, the cost of tickets and the overall expenses in connection to sporting events has substantially increased. In fact, a new study of the average ticket prices from 2014-2016 for the major sports leagues in North America indicated that attending a National Football League (NFL) game has an average ticket price of $92.98, while attending a National Hockey League (NHL) game has an average ticket price of $62.18. If a basketball fan wants to watch a National Basketball Association (NBA) game, that fan, on average will spend $55.88. If a fan wants to watch a Major League Baseball game, that fan can expect to spend, on average $31.00[37]

Fan Spending at Sporting Events | Sport$Biz | Martin J. Greenberg

In competing for consumer dollars, stadium developers are also aware of a prominent opponent: sports packages from cable networks. Cable networks such as AT&T, Direct TV, and Dish Network are offering competitive television packages that allow fans to watch all of their favorite sporting events from the comforts of their home. More importantly, cable networks are offering viewing packages that are far less than the cost of attending sporting events in person. For example, a fan that wants the Direct TV Sports Package may pay between $50.00-$125.00 a month, which would include multiple games, and multiple sports and is substantially less expensive than buying tickets to multiple sporting events.[38]

C. Attracting Millennials to Sporting Events

Sports on Cable Networks | Sport$Biz | Martin J. Greenberg Sports LawCollege and professional sports teams are changing their marketing strategies to take advantage of the substantial Millennial population. Sports organizations are finding out that attracting Millennials to stadiums often takes more than the standard promotion of a t-shirt or a hat. Instead, marketing to Millennials requires substantial changes to the way teams operate. Chuck Underwood (Underwood), President of Generational Imperative, Inc., states that “[t]he primary shift is technology-based, and [M]illennials are the technology generation. If the technology revolution did not occur, these [M]illennials would be traditional sports fans who could be marketed to in a traditional way.” Now, teams are using a multitude of strategies including social media campaigns, events, promotions and enhanced in-game experiences.[39] Underwood further stated that, “[t]echnology has changed the core consumer values of the [M]illennial generation. It is nothing more than developing the products, services, physical facilities and brands to resonate with the targeted generations.”[40]

Sports on Cable Networks | Sport$Biz | Martin J. Greenberg Sports LawThus, teams are centering their campaigns around technology that appeals to younger fan bases, which is evident with the use of social media. With the prevalence of social networks, news outlets, advertisers, retail stores, and numerous other entities have found ways to reach consumers instantly with social media. In a recent survey, 41% of Millennials use Facebook every day, however, numerous other social platforms were used more frequently by Millennials.[41] Accordingly, sports teams have followed and have made social media a part of the in-game experience by live-tweeting, fan giveaways, and posting clips of top plays. For example, the Boston Red Sox have implemented Twitter polls during games and have let fans request music using Twitter during rain delays.[42] As a result, fans feel more engaged and are likely to join the team’s social network community and follow the team’s activities.

Engaging Fans at Sporting Events | Sport$Biz | Martin J. Greenberg Sports Law

Currently, teams are using analytics and taking note of the types of fans that attend sporting events more, specifically, the types of fans that attend the venue on certain nights. For example, the San Francisco Giants (AT&T Park) tracked their stadium attendees and found that Friday games attract a younger crowd with more highs schoolers, college students and young adults, while Saturday afternoon games attract more families.[43] This information is significant because according to Joe Legaz, the manager of marketing and entertainment for the San Francisco Giants, “[t]he different crowd that is at each game helps us to program our entertainment so we know how to better relate to them so they are more likely to respond.”[44] Notably, the San Francisco Giants were rated as having the most engaged baseball fan base according to a formula produced by TicketCity.[45] Another example is the Chicago Cubs, the 2016 Major League Baseball World Champions. The Chicago Cubs have divided their fans into seven segments and have tailored their future stadium renovations to appeal to different segments of fans, such as different concession options on the club level.[46] Notably, “more than 60 percent of [Chicago] Cubs fans started following the team before the age of 12.”[47] Hence, Millennial engagement is essential for sports organizations in the present and future.

Millennial Engagement at Sporting Events | Stadium Advancements | Sport$Biz

III. Stadium Structural Advancements

A. Roofs

In North America, stadium developers have placed an emphasis on “all weather” facilities, which has led to an increase in stadiums with retractable roofs. However, every “all weather” stadium is uniquely designed. For example, US Bank Stadium has a clear roof made of 60 percent ETFE (ethylene-tetra-fluoro-ethylene), which allows fans a chance to be exposed to the elements but remain comfortable watching the game. ETFE works by allowing sunlight to come in through the roofs surface although it is filtered through small dots in the roofs surface. [48] Amazingly, US Bank Stadium is the first in North America to have this feature. [49]

All Weather Stadiums | Sport$Biz | Sports Law Martin J. GreenbergIn Atlanta, Mercedes Benz Stadium, the new facility for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, contains a unique, state-of-the-art roof, that’s a signature element of the facility. The roof gives an option for an authentic open air experience.[50] Additionally, the roof is designed in the shape of a falcon’s wing, an acknowledgement to Atlanta’s NFL team. The roof contains eight triangular panels that can open in an ocular design, which is similar to a camera opening.[51]

In Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center, a different approach was used to construct the new home of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. Specifically, the stadium developers implemented environmental friendly concepts, which led to the arena becoming the first indoor venue that is LEED certified platinum.[52] Further, the Golden 1 Center is 100% solar powered, due in large part to its roof.[53] The 2 Megawatt roof contains approximately 3,000 solar panels and powers 15% of the energy to the stadium.[54] The entire stadium needs 12 kilowatts to function.[55] To put that in perspective, a megawatt is 1000 kilowatts.[56] Typically, a home needs only 10 kilowatts or less, and a small business may need 20-80 kilowatts.[57] For the Golden 1 Center, the remaining 85% of the solar energy needed is powered by a nearby 62-acre solar farm.[58]

B. Windows and Doors

Solar Powered Sports Arenas | Sport$Biz | Sports Attorney Martin J. GreenbergIn unique display of creativity, US Bank Stadium was designed to resemble an A-framed ship, an aspect that supports the Vikings.[59] The stadium also contains five 55 feet wide, and 75 to 95 feet tall glass doors.[60] Not only do the glass doors add to the aesthetic appeal of the venue, but they also open and let the current weather into the stadium. Essentially, the doors can make an indoor game feel like it’s played outside. In addition, the doors open and lead fans to a plaza right outside of the stadium.

Indoor Sports Arenas | Sport$Biz | Sports Law Martin J. GreenbergIn Sacramento, the Golden 1 Center, which hosts the Sacramento Kings, is the first indoor and outdoor arena in the NBA.[61] The main entrance on the arena’s northwest side contains five 50 feet tall and 150 wide glass doors.[62] The doors are operable and the arena can open the doors to give an outdoor feel to the fans inside of the venue.[63]

C.  Lighting

Sports Arenas and Technology Lighting | Sport$Biz | Martin J. GreenbergStadium developers are now using LED sports lighting to enhance the fan viewing experience. According to Jeff Rogers, the President of Musco World, “the first major stadiums and venues were converted probably in 2013 and we’re seeing it with virtually all of the new facilities – LED as the primary field of play light source – and many of the existing [venues] are being converted.”[64] Rogers further explains that the LED system has the flexibility to create a desirable environment for the fan and the participants in a sporting event. In fact, “the benefits of switching to LED are multifarious. Firstly, the system allows for an instantaneous switch on and off. Secondly, there can be significant energy savings. And thirdly, the light itself is enhanced, both for the fans inside the stadium and for the television images captured there.”[65]

Fan Comfort at Sporting Arenas | Fan Experience | Sport$Biz | Sports LawAdditionally, LED lights assist with reducing glare that would usually go into the fan’s eyes. The LED system allows for stadiums to redirect light onto the playing surface which enhances the picture and eliminates flicker, which is an issue for slow motion cameras.[66] However, each stadium and each sport has its own specific requirements and must be designed accordingly.

V. Fan Experience

A. Scoreboards

Scoreboards serve multiple purposes for fans, which include the score of the game, display of players in the game, statistics of the game, and instant replay videos. Recently, stadium developers have placed an increased emphasis on the design, size, and features of scoreboards within a venue. Specifically, stadium developers have focused on ways to maximize the fan experience by creating bolder and larger scoreboards. In 2009, the Dallas Cowboys unveiled one of the largest HD videoboards in the world. Per Dikenta Dike:

This massive display spans 60 yards, from 20-yard line to 20-yard line, displaying 25,000 square feet of video. The two sideline-facing monitors are each 160 feet wide by 72 feet tall. The two end zone-facing monitors are 50 feet wide and 28 feet tall. It is the largest screen-structure in the world, and all of it hangs 90 feet directly above the players on the gridiron.[67]

Sports Arenas Viewing Screens | Sport$Biz | Martin J. Greenberg

Surprisingly, less than 5 years later, the developers at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas found a way to construct an even bigger screen. Kara Cook indicates:

The Houston Texans unveiled their new high-definition video display boards, the largest indoor displays in the world, at the Reliant Stadium West Club on Tuesday night. The state of the art display boards are located on both end zones and stretch 52.5 feet high by 277 feet wide, totaling 14,549 square feet of display surface. That’s six times larger than the previous screen.[68]

Today, stadium developers have mixed approaches to the design of video boards in new arenas. For example, in US Bank Stadium, stadium developers designed a main video board that is much smaller, but have input HD video displays throughout the stadium. Specifically, the main video board is more than 8,100 square feet, which is about one-third of the stadium’s 25,000 square feet of high-definition LED displays. The main videoboard is only the 10th largest in the NFL, however, the total square footage of 13HD LED displays is the most in the league.[69]

Conversely, the stadium designers of the new Mercedes Benz Stadium are taking a different approach and constructing a video board that is unlike any other in professional sports. In fact:

[T]he 58-foot-high, 360-degree, high-definition halo video board circling the roof is a one-of-a-kind feature that will no doubt be an attraction on its own. It’s not only the largest video board in professional sports, at 1,100 lineal feet long or nearly 64,000 square feet, it’s the largest video board in the world. Complementing the state-of-the-art video board will be a 100-foot-high “mega column” wrapped with a 3-Dimensional video board, as well as 1,100 linear feet of LED ribbon boards. The stadium’s state-of-the-art audio system will be paired with these video features, providing multiple opportunities for entertaining fans and guests at all events.[70]

Mercedes Benz Stadium Halo Video Board | Sport$Biz | Martin J. Greenberg Sports Law

Accordingly, stadium scoreboards remain a significant feature that is designed with the fan experience in mind.

B. The Significance of Wi-Fi

When it comes to attracting Millennials to a venue, Wi-Fi is an essential component. Wi-Fi is a technology that uses radio waves to provide network connectivity. A Wi-Fi connection is established using a wireless adapter to create hotspots, which are areas near a wireless router that are connected to the network and allow users to access internet services.[71] In a stadium with thousands of fans, the ability to connect to a Wi-Fi network is a vital ingredient for fan satisfaction.

WiFi in Sports Arenas | Sport$Biz | Martin J. GreenbergThe presence of Wi-Fi in stadiums addresses a key need for fans: internet connectivity. In fact, today’s fans demand the capability to connect to the internet. Fred Kirsh, Vice President of Content for the New England Patriots mentions:

There’s an expectation from fans. Being connected through their device is their expectation whether it’s music or sports. They want to download information to enhance what they’re doing; they want to share with friends. They want to [connect] with the outside world. If you don’t have good connectivity it might not destroy the event but it detracts from it. We want to make sure we’ve done everything in our power to make the event as good as it can be.[72]

With fans demanding quality connectivity, stadium developers are placing an increased emphasis on the Wi-Fi connection. However, with advancements in smartphone technology, meeting the needs of fans presents challenges for stadium developers. For example, the improvement of camera phones has increased the need for more data capacity. Popular Smartphones, such as the i-Phone 6s and the Samsung Galaxy S7, have 12 megapixel cameras that produce files that are 13% larger than the phones of two years ago.[73] The increase in file size has a substantial impact on the ability of a smartphone user to upload photos and videos to social networks, including Facebook, Instagram, Periscope, and Snapchat, which highlights the need to constantly improve internet connectivity. [74]

[75]Sports and Technology | Sport$Biz | Sports Law

With advancements in smartphone technology, and an increase in social media platforms, fans have continuously increased the amount of data usage while attending sporting events. In fact, Super Bowl 50 involved 10.1 terabytes of data transferred over the Wi-Fi network at Levi’s Stadium, which is equivalent to 6,000 hours of HD video or 1.2 million 2MB images.[76] This figure is astonishing because it represents a 63% increase in data usage from Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona.[77] Also, the number of fans that logged onto the stadium provided Wi-Fi was 27,316 unique users, which surpassed last year’s Super Bowl record of 25,936 unique users.[78]

Ultimately, as smartphone use increases, connectivity and Wi-Fi capability will increase as well. With fans demanding more opportunities to interact and provide a narrative of their stadium experience, stadium developers will constantly find ways to accommodate the connectivity needs of fans, to increase or sustain fan attendance. Thus, the ability of fans to share their experiences over social networks is a priority for fans and for stadium developers.

C. Connectivity (Wi-Fi Network)

Levis Stadium WiFi Connectivity | Sport$Biz | Martin J. Greenberg Sports AttorneyIn a world of multitasking, smartphones, and social media, stadiums have prioritized the importance of connectivity. Specifically, the ability of vendors, stadium staff, guests, and fans to connect to a fast, secure, and reliable data network. Today’s fans appreciate the ability to tell stories and share their experiences with others, with the click of a button. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Periscope, Snapchat, and Instagram provide fans the ability to report from a live event and share their personal narrative with friends, strangers, and media outlets. In fact, studies indicate that 79% of Millennials post photos they’ve taken, and 48% percent of Millennials post videos they’ve taken.[79] Also, studies indicate that 61% of Millennials share their photos across a multitude of platforms, which means others can access their memorialized experiences. [80]

Across the country, stadium developers are focusing on connectivity during events to meet the needs of fans that want to share and interact over text message, email, and social media during events. However, the ability to connect to a stadium Wi-Fi network is not just a desired luxury, instead, it’s a necessity for younger fans. Without connectivity, younger fans are leaving stadiums during a game or event, since they cannot connect to the internet.[81]

In 2014, Levi’s Stadium (home of the San Francisco 49ers) opened and was instantly known as one of the most connected venues in the country. Levi’s Stadium contains over 400 miles of data cable, which includes 70 miles of cable to support Wi-Fi, with an access point under every 100 seats. In addition, Levi’s Stadium has more than 12,000 physical network ports and 1,000 Wi-Fi access points, supporting a bandwidth 40 times larger than any known U.S. stadium.[82] Recently, US Bank Stadium opened and featured over 1,300 Wi-Fi access points throughout the stadium that are designed to serve fans that are located within its immediate vicinity. [83] Specifically, US Bank Stadium designed access points that would operate like mini Wi-Fi networks within the venue, and would focus on the fans that are immediately to the left and right of the access point. [84]

WiFi at sporting events | Sport$Biz | Martin J. GreenbergIn the NBA, the Golden 1 Center is currently the “worlds most connected indoor sports and entertainment venue.”[85] The arena features free Wi-Fi and a connection that is “17,000 times faster” than the average home network. [86] As an example of the social media friendly venue, the bandwidth of the arena can support approximately 250,000 Instagram (photo sharing app) posts per second. In addition, the arena features 650 miles of fiber optic cable, hundreds of Wi-Fi access points, a 6000-square- foot data center, and a Data Antenna System, which will support with getting service everywhere in the building.[87]

D. Beacons and Apps

Comparable to stores, restaurants, businesses, and electronics, stadiums are now developing apps that can be accessed and downloaded by stadium attendees. In appealing to younger crowds, stadium developers have placed an emphasis on innovation, creativity, convenience, and efficiency with stadium apps. For example, in Levi’s Stadium, fans that use the Levi’s Stadium app can send food to friends within the stadium, pay for food and merchandise, and transfer tickets to friends and family members.[88] Also, when fans enter the stadium, they can have their face reflected on a scoreboard with a personalized message.[89] With this technology, teams can record and potentially control fans’ experiences at a game, which could have a significant impact on fan attendance. Using stadium apps, sports teams can track how long the lines are at food stands, parking lot capacities, and the identities of the fans who are sitting in the seats.[90] With this information, fans can receive messages from the stadium that direct them to shorter lines or have specific, personalized marketing messages.[91]

Stadiums with Apps and Information | Sport$Biz | Martin J. Greenberg Sports LawIn 2016, US Bank Stadium released an app with quite a few groundbreaking features, including directions to and from the stadium, entry to the stadium, and turn-by-turn navigation to get to their seats. Next, the app will allow fans to access instant replay of their favorite football moments from different camera angles, and can stream other live NFL games from their phones.[92] In addition, the app will track fans parking spaces, allow fans to order food and souvenirs that can be delivered to them in the stadium. Further, the app will address a pressing need for any stadium attendee: restroom availability. Specifically, the app, “[w]ill save fans the hassle of searching for bathrooms that aren’t packed. The app will tell them — via red, yellow and green symbols — which lavatories have long, medium or short lines. Stadium staffers will monitor bathroom lines and manually post updates so this information is always current.”[93]

In the NBA, the Golden 1 Center has an app that fans can download as well. In addition to ordering food, souvenirs, and watching instant replays of plays from the current game, the app allows fans to take advantage of two transportation needs: ride sharing and parking.[94] Specifically, fans can order an Uber (ride sharing service) using the app, and can purchase parking at the arena in advance. Also, fans can use the app during non-sporting events to get information about shows or events. [95]

Sports Stadium Connected Technology | Sport$Biz | Martin J. GreenbergRemarkably, the Golden State Warriors, who play in a nearly 50-year-old venue, were the first NBA team to implement the use of Beacons in their arena.[96] Beacons send push notifications to fans in the stadium, which keeps them updated on current events, promotions, and prices throughout the stadium. For example, “[t]he team uses them to ping fans heading to the nosebleed section, giving them the option for seat upgrades. About 15 percent of all seat upgrades are directly tied to beacon notifications.” [97] Also, the Warriors have observed substantial success with Beacon notifications from the team store, which states, “[a]n even more successful area has been the [B]eacon for the stadiums’ team store, which delivers deals through a notification. Typically, it’s for a free item after spending a certain amount. Fans with the [B]eacon promotion spend 93 percent more than those without the offer.”[98] While the Warriors were the first NBA team to implement this technology, other professional teams, including the San Francisco 49ers, the Dallas Cowboys, and the San Francisco Giants have implemented this technology in their venues as well.[99]

E. Wearable Technology

While most stadium technology innovations are designed to benefit the fans, one significant advancement is specifically designed to benefit the competitors: wearable technology. At the forefront of this technology, is the NFL. In 2014, the NFL partnered with Zebra Technologies to install its Radio-Frequency Identification System (RFID) known as MotionWorks.[100] The purpose of the system is to assist NFL teams with their football logistics and to track individual player metrics. Effectively, the system measures player’s movements, such as speed and distance, which allows teams to collect quantifiable data on player performance.[101]

Technology in Sports | Wearable Technology | Sport$Biz

Essentially, the MotionWorks system is implemented by small chips that are inserted into the shoulder pads of the players. [102] The chips emit radio signals that are picked up by approximately twenty receivers that are placed throughout the stadium. [103] Using the process of triangulation, the system identifies the location of the player and begins tracking. [104] Surprisingly, this technology is not only used to track player movements. In fact, Jill Stelfox, Vice President and General Manager of Location Solutions (Zebra Technologies), states:

[W]e track the chains—the down and distance markers—we track the referees, and in the Pro Bowl we actually tracked the ball. Keeping an eye on the ball is the most challenging part, though. Not only do tags need to be seamlessly integrated under the skin of the football, but there is also the potential that players’ bodies could block or interfere with the signal. [105]

Thus, the technology used for tracking player movements may eventually have a substantial impact on the entire game.[106]

V. Conclusion

Sport Technology | Sport$Biz | Martin J. Greenberg Sports LawTechnology is the future and the way in which the sports industry will remain competitive. There were interesting quotes in an article by Patrick Sisson entitled “Introducing the Stadium of the Future Where Technology is King.” Undoubtedly the quotes point to the future of technology and its importance to sports facilities:

Architect Mark Williams, a principal and Director of Sports & Entertainment Business Development at HKS, stated, “For centuries, we’ve built stadiums with a field, a few seating rings, space for concessions, and a support space behind it. In the last few decades, we’ve updated that concept and built stadiums that are high-performance machines.”

Rapid shifts in mobile technology and media consumption have forced these increasingly expensive stadiums and arenas, once the centerpiece of the gameday experience, to compete against home viewing for mindshare and money. A Cisco study from 2012 found that 57 percent of sports fans prefer watching the game at home, and research from sports demographer Rich Luker suggests Millennials won’t automatically fill seats vacated by their parents: the greatest decline in avid sports fans in the last decade has come among 12- to 17-year-olds and 18- to 34-year-olds. In talks with more than a half-dozen designers from top architecture firms including HKS, Populous, HNTB, and HOK, everyone spoke of the challenge of the couch.

“We think the industry needs to reset,” says Bill Johnson of HOK, a global firm that specializes in stadiums and transportation centers. “We’re hearing the NFL say that we need to get fans to re-engage with the sport and get out of their mancaves. Since technology has made it so easy for people to engage with the event in their own way in their own space, it’s easy to disengage from the live event. We’re competing against the cost of gas, parking passes, tailgating, it goes on. [The NFL league average ticket price has jumped from $53.64 in 2000 to $85.83 today.] There’s continuing pressure on the design side to create venues that are more flexible, more amazing, and can one-up what you can get at home.”[107]

Today, attracting fans to a stadium takes much more than a star player or a winning team. Unlike the previous generations, relying on fan loyalty, team recognition, or family traditions is not enough to fill stadium seats or sell tickets. Instead, today’s stadium developers have focused on the overall fan experience, which includes the moments before the game, during the game, and even activities away from the game. In focusing on the overall fan experience, stadium developers have focused on what fans do outside of the stadium to produce a smooth integration inside of the stadium. With this focus, the luxuries that fans enjoy outside of the stadium including Wi-Fi, and social media, have become necessities to attract and maintain the younger generations. While teams compete to produce the best on-field product and stadium developers compete to build the biggest and best facilities, one thing remains certain: updated technology is a necessity for attracting fans.



Jon M. Tyus is a third-year law student at Marquette University Law School. Tyus serves as a Staff Member of the Marquette Sports Law Review (Volume 27), member of the Sports Law Society, and member of the Business Law Society. Prior to Marquette, Tyus earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Arizona where he was a four-year student athlete.

How to Attract Millennials to Sporting Events | Sport$Biz | Martin J. Greenberg

Chart Above

Caitlin Kelly, Do Millenials Find Value in a Professional Sporting Event, Skidmore Studio, Sept. 29, 2015,

Sports Teams and Twitter Followers

Scott Lindholm, Professional Team Twitter Followers, July 8, 2013,

Sports Teams and Twitter Followers | Sport$Biz | Sports Law


[1] United States Census,

[2] Richard Fry, Millenials Overtake Baby Boomers as America’s Largest Generation, Pew Research Center, April 25, 2016,

[3] Id.

[4] Tripp Mickle, Industry Looks for Right Recipe to Attract Fans, Sports Business Journal, March 24, 2014,

[5] Brian Gainor, Reaching And Engaging Millenial Fans,The NACDA Report,

[6] Id.

[7] Caitlin Kelly, Do Millennials Find Value in a Professional Sporting Event, Skidmore Studio, Sept. 29, 2015,

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] William Kendy, Dealing With Generations…Especially Millenials, SGB Weekly, September 22, 2014,

[11] Id.

[12] Nick Pino, John Porter, OLED TV: What You Need to Know, Tech Radar, May 06, 2016,

[13] Patrick Sisson, Introducing The Stadium of The Future, Where Technology is King,, Feb. 03, 2016,

[14] Gainor, supra note 5.

[15] Id.

[16] Eventbrite, Millennials Fueling the Experience Economy,

[17] Id.

[18] Id.

[19] Id.

[20] Alicia Jessop, NBA and NHL Teams Use Unique Smartphone Experiences to Attract Millenials, Sport Techie, Dec. 22, 2015,

[21] Mandy Niad, Sports Teams Look to Score by Marketing to Younger Fans, Medil Reports Chicago, May 13, 2013,

[22] Jessop, supra note 20.

[23] Id.

[24] Id.

[25] Id.

[26] Id.

[27] Id.

[28] Kevin Smith, Will the LA Rams’ New Inglewood Stadium be an Economic Boon or Bust?, Los Angeles Daily News, Jan. 1, 2016,

[29] Tony Bizjak, Dale Kassler, Say, Whats that Much Taller Building Rising Next Door to the Downtown Arena?, The Sacramento Bee, Sept. 4, 2016,

[30] Id.

[31] Tim Newcomb, US Bank Stadium: Vikings’ New Stadium Boasts New Features, Sports Illustrated, June 10, 2016,

[32] Damon Martin, The Coolest Things About The New T-Mobile Arena, Site of UFC 200, April 06, 2016,

[33] Id.

[34] Matthew, Ponsford, Los Angeles To Build World’s Most Expensive Stadium Complex, CNN, Jan. 19, 2016,

[35] Smith, supra note 28.

[36] Id.

[37] Average Ticket Prices in the Major Sports Leagues in North America, Statista, Jan. 08, 2014,


[39] Niad, supra note 21.

[40] Id.

[41] Lauren Friedman, 4 Millennial Social Media Trends to Watch in 2017, Forbes Magazine, Dec. 29, 2016, Magazine,

[42] Brian Clapp, Unique Strategies for Using Social Media in Sports Marketing, Jan. 31, 2017,

[43] Niad, supra note 21.

[44] Id.

[45] Id.

[46] Id.

[47] Id.

[48] Robert Gray, Here are 5 Amazing Things About the Minnesota Vikings’ New Stadium, Fortune, Aug. 27, 2016,

[49] Id.


[51] Tim Newcomb, US Bank Stadium will Bring Viking Fans Close to Elements, Game Action, Sports Illustrated, June 10, 2016,

[52] What the Sacramento Kings new Golden 1 Center Shows is Possible with Solar Energy, Coastal Solar Energy Solutions,

[53] Id.

[54] Id.

[55] Id.

[56] Id.

[57] Id.

[58] Troy Wolverton, Sacramento Kings take Silicon Valley Tech to new arena, The Mercury News, Oct. 28, 2016,

[59] Id.

[60] Id.

[61] Don Murel, Sacramento Kings Tout NBA’s First Indoor-Outdoor Arena, The Sporting News, Nov. 10, 2016,

[62] Id.

[63] Id.

[64] James Emmet, David Cushman, Special Report: Stadium Technology, SportsPro Media, June 09, 2016,

[65] Id.

[66] Id.

[67] Dikenta Dike, Inside the NFL’S Most Expensive Stadium, Forbes Magazine, Oct. 28, 2009,

[68] Kara Cook, Texans Unveil New Video Boards, Houston Texans News, Aug. 14, 2013,

[69] Craig Peters, US Bank Stadium’s High Res Video Boards In Place, Jan. 20, 2016,

[70] Atlanta Falcons, Seven Surprising ways Mercedes-Benz Stadium will Change the Game for Fans, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Dec. 16, 2015.

[71] CCM, What is WiFi and How Does it Work?, CCM, Feb. 2017,

[72] Teena Maddox, How the NFL and its stadiums became leaders in Wi-Fi, Monetizing apps, and Customer Experience, Tech Republic,

[73] Id.

[74] Id.


[76] Teena Maddox, Super Bowl 50 smashes data records with 10.1TB flying across Wi-Fi, Feb. 10, 2016,

[77] Id.

[78] Id.

[79] Gainor, supra note 5.

[80] Id.

[81] Trips Reddy, 10 Ways Stadiums & Venues are Using Technology to Delight Fans & Keep Them Coming Back, Umbel, Sept. 29, 2015.

[82] Tim Newcomb, Inside 49ers New Home, Levi’s Stadium, a Venue unlike any other, Sports Illustrated, Aug.1, 2014,

[83] Julio Ojeda Zapata, US Bank Stadium:Tech Experience Designed to Entice Fans, Twin Cities Pioneer Press, July. 13, 2016,

[84] Id.

[85] Ryan Lilies, Kings: Golden 1 Center will be ‘the most connected’ arena in the world, Sacramento Bee, Dec. 17, 2015,

[86] Id.

[87] David Pierce, The Highest-Tech Stadium in Sports Is Pretty Much a Giant Tesla, Wired, June 3, 2016.

[88] Troy Wolverton, Levi’s Stadium App Scores with Fans, The Mercury News, Aug. 12, 2016,

[89] Id.

[90] Id.

[91] Id.

[92] Julio Ojeda – Zapata, For New Vikings Stadium, An app that does everything but yell “Skoll!”, Twin Cities Pioneer Press, April 11, 2016,

[93] Id.

[94] Dale Kaslet, Sacramento Kings Unveil New App for Golden 1 Center, The Sacramento Bee, Sept. 19, 2016,

[95] Id.

[96] Shara Tibken, High Tech Warriors: A Glimpse into the Stadium of the future, CNET, Jan. 18, 2015,

[97] Id.

[98] Id.

[99] Id.

[100] Tom Taylor, NFL Using RFID Chips to Track Player Movements, Gather Data, Sports Illustrated, Mar. 5, 2015,

[101] Id.

[102] Id.

[103] Id.

[104] Id.

[105] Id.

[106] Id.

[107] Sisson, supra note 13.