There is now a game within the game in every major professional sports league. The race is on, not just to win a championship, but to build the biggest, best and most technologically advanced stadiums and arenas.
With stiff competition from HD televisions and cable packages that allow fans to watch every game with a crystal-clear view from the comfort of their couch, getting butts in the seats has become increasingly difficult. So owners know they need to offer a truly unique fan experience, in addition to the game, if they want to keep charging top-dollar entry fees.
Sports franchises are waging battle to make every seat in the stadium not just the best seat in the house — but the best seat in any house. These are the venues that have made the impossible possible and brought a new level of technology to the sporting world.
AT&T Stadium: Dallas, Texas
When the eccentric Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones opted to build a new stadium in 2009, you knew it wasn’t going to be ordinary. And, as they say, everything is bigger in Texas.
In this case, we’re talking about a Jumbotron, and leave it to the Cowboys to find a way to make something that already has “jumbo” in its name seem small. Through some feat of engineering and architecture, the team found a way to build and install a 72-foot tall by 160-foot wide screen that is suspended over the field.
Since its unveiling six years ago, this technology has become a bit more commonplace. The team’s closest rival, the Houston Texans, put an even bigger screen in its stadium, and the NBA’s Indiana Pacers now has a similarly mammoth screen in its arena. But Dallas, as Jerry Jones is quick to tell everyone, was first.
Levi’s Stadium: Santa Clara, California
There has never been a sports facility like Levi’s Stadium. It is Silicon Valley to the core, and while some nostalgic San Francisco 49ers fans may miss the outdated dump that was their former home, Candlestick Park, there is no denying that its replacement is as special as they come.
All 70,000 fans can connect to Wi-Fi and 4G networks, which is a much more impressive achievement than it may sound. Such connectivity has been hard to replicate even for smaller crowds. So how did they do it? With 400 miles of cables, 1,200 antenna systems, a Wi-Fi router for every 100 seats and 40 gigabytes per second of bandwidth.
Fans shouldn’t just rely on technology inside the stadium, however. If you plan to go, be sure to purchase your tickets through Ticketmaster’s NFL exchange to ensure their authenticity. Then, when you’re wowed by the environment, you can buy your seat to the next game right from your seat.
Golden State’s Arena of the Future: San Francisco, California
The only contender to knock Levi’s Stadium off its number-one perch is right near in, you guessed it, Silicon Valley. The NBA world champion Golden State Warriors had already designed its new arena before they won the title in June, but now its upcoming move from Oakland to San Francisco is being even more anticipated than before. While the basketball should be great, the amenities might be even more impressive.
Since it isn’t expected to host games until the 2017-18 season, it is hard to say exactly what futuristic technologies will await fans lucky enough to attend on opening night. But, since experts say computer processing doubles every few years, this place is certain to be the most advanced of all time. Developers are already testing virtual reality and motion-sensor capabilities, so who knows? Perhaps a hologram of reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry will take the court.