Not all NFL stadiums will get Wi-Fi in 2012

By Josh Katzowitz | NFL Writer

With the news that the NFL's ticket sales have declined each of the past five years, the league recently introduced some new ideas that could keep the fan inside the stadium more engaged and less willing to walk away because of all of the gameday inconveniences.

One of those ideas was to outfit each stadium with Wi-FI technology so that fans (presumably) can keep up to date with the rest of the league action for fantasy football and, even more importantly, for gambling purposes.

Good idea, right? Right. Except now we get news from the Sports Business Journal that this initiative most likely won't be available in 2012. That's because the league doesn't immediately expect to sign with a telecommunications partner that could begin the process of making all stadiums wireless.

As the SBD writes, five stadiums will serve in a pilot program that will give fans wireless service and in-game apps (some of which could allow fans to listen to players who are wearing microphones on the field). Those stadiums are: MetLife Stadium (for the Giants and Jets), Gillette Stadium (for the Patriots), Bank of America Stadium (for the Panthers), Lucas Oil Stadium (for the Colts) and the Superdome (for the Saints).

Fans watching inside the homes for the Colts and the Patriots will get to use NFL RedZone as part of their in-stadium app. The Panthers, meanwhile, will allow fans to see replays from a number of camera angles.

So, why will the league not sign a telecommunications contract before 2012?

“Multiple clubs are already getting these integrated systems installed with one of the carriers or with an equipment provider, thus yielding a rich array of installations that can be monitored for effectiveness,” Eric Grubman, NFL executive vice president told SBD. “There is still quite a bit of speed in tech development, so we remain wary of big expenditure on installed infrastructure until a solution is proven.”

Either way, this original idea seems to be a huge undertaking, which perhaps is one reason the technology won't be ready by this season.

“Fifty thousand people uploading photos of a single winning touchdown at the same time all on one Wi-Fi network?” asked Tammy Parker, who covers the wireless sector. “The network had better have some serious capacity to enable that.”

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, and subscribe to our Pick-6 Podcast and NFL newsletter. You can follow Josh Katzowitz on Twitter here: @joshkatzowitz.

 
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