Why It’s Time For Stadiums to Be Wired For Soccer Fans

It seems so surreal to me that working on EPL Talk 365 days a year, on pretty much a 24-hour basis each day, that it’s been over 5 years since I’ve been to a match involving a Premier League team. I consume the league around the clock, but it’s been mostly via television, Internet and radio. I haven’t been back to the United Kingdom for several years. And, most importantly, no Premier League teams have played near my home in South Florida for more than a decade, maybe even two. So when Chelsea and AC Milan played in Miami last weekend, I jumped at the chance to go to the match.

Since the last time I attended my last round of Premier League matches in 2006, a smartphone has become an appendage to my soccer viewing experience. While at home watching matches on television, I often will be checking stats, looking up information about players, answering comments on EPL Talk and posting thoughts on Twitter. So when I sat down in my seat at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami last Saturday to watch Chelsea against AC Milan, I felt compelled at times to enhance my experience of the match by connecting with the world via my phone.

Before the match started, I didn’t see any programmes to purchase and completely missed the AC Milan starting line-up. Using my smartphone, I tried to look up the information on Twitter but — as you may expect — the quality of the cellphone signal was pathetic, especially when there were a small portion of the 57,000 people in attendance trying to do the same thing.

I also wanted tried to post some photos to Instagram, answer some comments on EPL Talk and to check-in via Facebook. I tried doing that before the match started, and at half-time. But it was all to no avail. The pages or apps I tried to load or post to either timed out or wouldn’t load.

It was only after the match ended that I was able to use the smartphone effectively. But, by then, it was almost too late.

I thoroughly enjoyed the match and being there, but I felt disappointed that I wasn’t able to enhance my experience by connecting with the digital world. Driving home that night, it made me wonder how the experience could be improved in the future — whether it’s the stadium having a public WiFi connection that would allow fans at the stadium to check team lineups, purchase season tickets, order food to be delivered to their seat or post their photos and messages to their friends, families and followers.

The other ideas I thought about involved the pre-match experience. After setting out early to get to the stadium, my wife and I ended up being stuck in a parking lot on the Florida Turnpike, just a mere mile away from the stadium. After we finally exited the Turnpike, the quarter mile drive to the stadium was even more chaotic as lanes and lanes of traffic tried to merge into the overcrowded parking lot. If a website or app could improve the matchday experience, it could also be used for the pre-match drive — giving fans updates on traffic delays and advice on the best routes to the stadium, as well as which parking lots are open.

Maybe there are teams or stadiums that are using similar technology that I’m not aware of? If they are, let me know in the comments section below.

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  1. joshua lutzno August 5, 2012
    • The Gaffer August 5, 2012
    • Alex Wolcott August 5, 2012
  2. trickybrkn August 5, 2012
  3. Gary August 5, 2012
    • CTBlues August 5, 2012
  4. Jon August 5, 2012
  5. JD August 5, 2012
    • Matt August 5, 2012
    • Alex Wolcott August 5, 2012
  6. Frill Artist August 5, 2012
    • dust August 5, 2012
  7. Mufc77 August 5, 2012
    • The Gaffer August 5, 2012
  8. jtm371 August 5, 2012
  9. IanCransonsKnees August 6, 2012
    • Alex Wolcott August 6, 2012
  10. The original Tom August 6, 2012
  11. Darren August 19, 2012

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