The world’s most successful professional sports franchise announced today that it’s forged a partnership with the world’s largest networking equipment maker, in a move that they say will re-define the sports fan’s in-game experience.
The buzz surrounding the “new” Yankee Stadium – which already has risen across the street from the ballpark’s original location at 161st St. and Jerome Ave. in the Bronx – is expected to reach a fever pitch by the time the Bombers host the Cleveland Indians in their home opener on April 9.
Team officials have promised to keep the field’s dimensions the same and to preserve stadium’s trademark frieze. The “new” building, in fact, will resemble the original stadium more than the current one, which has undergone a series of renovations since 1926, just three years after it opened.
Here’s a look at what the “new” stadium looks like at this moment:
But what Cisco Systems (News - Alert) Inc. is bringing to the ballpark no one could have imagined back in 1923, when Babe Ruth hit the storied stadium’s first home run (a three-run shot to beat the Boston Red Sox, 4-1). That was 40 years before “The Jetsons” aired on ABC, and a half-century before the Internet was invented.
Now, officials from the team and San Jose, California-based Cisco say, Yankee Stadium – thanks to technologies collectively called “StadiumVision” – will be the most wired, connected and video-enabled ballpark in the game.
Anywhere fans are in the park – in a bar, waiting in line for concessions, walking through the Great Hall – they’ll be able to watch live action on high-definition televisions. (Yankee fans know what an upgrade this will be from the current system, where the voices of radio announcers John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman blare a half-second ahead of the action, as seen on fuzzy color TVs perched above hot dog grills).
While the game is on, those same screens will feature sports scores, Yankees trivia, news and weather. When the game’s over – and hopefully Frank Sinatra is singing “New York, New York,” and not Liza Minelli (the P.A. launches into her version when the Yanks lose) – those screens will provide fans with useful traffic reports and directions to the nearest exit. In an emergency, they’ll display evacuation instructions.
According to Cisco Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Chambers (News - Alert), those technologies – and more – are designed to bring fans “closer to the action” and help the team transform the way it operates the stadium.
“This is an opportunity for Cisco to demonstrate the power of the network while establishing a lasting legacy at baseball’s new grand cathedral,” Chambers said.
For fans with deep pockets, the stadium’s so-called “premium luxury suites” will be outfitted with touch-screen IP phones that fans can use to order concessions and Yankees merchandise for delivery to the suite.
The stadium is also equipped so that, at some point down the road – say, after the Yankees have won their 30th World Series in 2012 – fans can use their mobile devices to order concessions from their seats, view instant replays or chat in real time with friends inside and outside the stadium.
“In addition, the stadium has the capability to allow fans to communicate with players before or after the game using interactive video-based technology,” Cisco officials say.
As it is, the best chance that some of us have to meet up with players is during a chance meeting at the stadium itself during one of the off-season’s guided tours. Such was the hope of young Cooper Dinan, a budding major league star who toured the stadium just two days ago. Cooper is pictured at right – standing on the “old” stadium’s grass during one of the ballpark’s very last tours, just two days ago, having been encouraged by his father (this reporter’s brother) to do so. A moment after this photo was snapped, a Stadium security guard scolded the confused boy.
Nevertheless, it’s fans like Cooper – fans of the future – that team officials say they had in mind when they selected Cisco for the new park’s networking needs.
According to Yankees Chief Operating Officer Lonn A. Trost, “Cisco will help us capitalize on industry trends and transitions, such as the current migration from standard-definition to high-definition video in venues and at home, to give our fans the most state-of-the-art game-day experience in all of baseball for years to come.”
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Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Michael Dinan