More MLB Stadiums Go Wireless As Baseball Competes With Your Living Room

Posted by Alex Dalenberg in INTERNET, MOBILE, STADIUM on 04-28-11    No Comments

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Wi-Fi may finally be coming to a ballpark near you.

Internet access at baseball stadiums should more than double this year with the Arizona DiamondbacksMinnesota Twins and Atlanta Braves adding Wi-Fi to their stadiums.

To the best of my knowledge, only the San Francisco Giants and the Houston Astros offered fans Internet access before this year, with both stadiums adding the service way back in 2004.

This isn’t exactly a wireless explosion, but my gut tells that we’re going to see the number of these upgrades grow exponentially as owners compete with their fans’ home entertainment systems.  That means these services aren’t just offering Internet access for your tablet or smartphone, but  also offer replay, real-time stats and the ability to order food right to your seats.

Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall comes right out and says it in this article from The Arizona Republic:

“What we compete with is the quality of broadcasting now, and fans get in the habit of staying at home and being in what they consider the best seat in the house right behind the pitcher… We challenge ourselves to come up with ways that still give an advantage to the person coming in person to see that game. This new digital portal is just that. They’re going to have access to information, replays, videos, stats, etc., that nobody at home can get.”

So these ballparks are trying to one-up the multi-screen experience sports fans take advantage of when they take in a game at home. It’s a challenge more than one business model is facing: how does your brick and mortar business beat the convenience of home consumption?

If I knew the answer to that one, I wouldn’t be blogging, but this Wi-Fi thing is obviously a no-brainer. You can get Wi-Fi in every coffee shop in town so why not a major entertainment venue like a baseball stadium. By all means, these teams should give fans as much bang for their buck as possible. Teams need to create a real value proposition to keep fans in the seats.

But I’m not going to say this is even going to start to cure the lagging attendance problems it’s trying to address. Maybe we’re just not fan enough anymore, but no mobile app or online portal is going to let fans bypass finding a parking spot or upgrade their nosebleed seats to a luxury box.

Especially in the case of teams like the Diamondbacks which have struggled over the last few years, I’d think putting a winner on the field is going to do a lot more to solve attendance problems than this thing called the Internet. You don’t need in-game replay or real-time stats to tell you a team is mediocre.

As for in-game beer delivery, there’s a winner if I’ve ever heard one.

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