The New England Patriots are now offering free Wi-FI to fans attending the game at Gillette Stadium. The free Wi-Fi access kicked off at their home opener this past Sunday, September 16.
The Wi-Fi allows the fans access to any information they seek, which in turn causes their visit to the stadium to be more enjoyable. Fans now have the ability to quickly use the Gillette Stadium and Patriots apps, along with NFL Red Zone app. Social Networking websites have become easier and quicker to access as well, allowing fans to share their experience with friends and family while at the game.
Jonathan Kraft, president of The Kraft Group and the Patriots, said in a statement, “In-stadium, high-density Wi-Fi providing any guest with a rich Internet experience is the next frontier for the NFL and it is something we have been researching for years… We believe that well-constructed mobile applications — accessible through the Enterasys Wi-Fi network — will ultimately deliver content available nowhere else, truly differentiating the in-stadium experience from any other.”
The National Football league hopes that providing free Wi-Fi at the games will allow fans to feel like they are not missing a beat with any of the other NFL games that are taking place simultaneously. Additionally, fans that participate in Fantasy Football Leagues will not have to depend on cell-phone service availability to check their team stats.
The Patriots worked with Enterasys Networks, to install the high-density Wi-FI into the stadium. The installation period took about a month. Gillette stadium has a capacity of 68,000, and Boston.com reported that Enterasys installed hundreds of wireless access points throughout the stadium to reduce overcrowding. The Wi-Fi is accessible both indoors and outdoors throughout and surrounding the stadium.
The cost to install Wi-FI strong enough to allow a stadium full of fans concurrently is not cheap, and many were questioning why the Patriots would spend so much when they have sold out every game since 1994. According to ESPN Playbook, the Patriots’ vice president of content, Fred Kirsch explained, “The Krafts are always asking, ‘How can we make the game-day experience better? ‘ This will enhance the experience of being in our stadium, and it could help us down the road for the days when we might not be sold out.”
Jonathon Kraft also hinted at future goals for technology with-in Gillette Stadium while appearing on CNBC’s Squawk Box. Kraft said, “I think eventually you’ll see us mic-up players and the audio being exclusively available to people in the building.”
In 1998, an ESPN Sports Poll found that 54 percent of fans would prefer to go to an NFL game than watch if from home. In 2011, the number dropped to only 29 percent of fans preferring to watch the game live from the stadium. The National Football League is looking to increase ticket sales, while also increasing the over-all experience for the attendees, and hopes that providing the Wi-Fi access to guests will help.
Other NFL teams that offer Wi-Fi at their stadiums include: New York Jets, New York Giants, Atlanta Falcons, Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers, Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints.