(from Sports Business Journal, September 16, 2013) The Pac-12 conference has recently made a deal to become the first major college conference to provide all football stadiums and basketball arenas with full wireless capabilities. This is a huge step for the Pac-12 and AT&T as it will provide U-verse presence for the Pac-12 networks, as well as making AT&T the official corporate sponsor for all universities in the Pac-12. This is a three-pronged deal that includes providing Wi-Fi, DAS, and, possibly the most important advantage, AT&T as the official technology source for the Pac-12. All stadiums will have stronger wireless capabilities for phone calls and text messages with DAS, and when Wi-Fi is eventually installed, it will allow for data usage to run faster.
This deal puts the Pac-12 bounds and leaps ahead of other major college conferences in enhancing the sporting event experience. All of the schools realigned the rights to their wireless category two years ago so the Pac-12 conference could sell them in a package to AT&T. To make this happen is not a cheap expense though; the Washington Husky’s made $250 million worth of renovations to become the only Wi-Fi capable stadium so far. It is estimated to cost around $2 million alone to install Wi-Fi and even more for schools that will need Wi-Fi and DAS. Although the final business model has yet to be established, some installations could be exchanged for sponsorship assets.
The main reason for these new installations is to enhance the viewer’s experience of the game. With these new capabilities the fan at the stadium can have all of the perks of being at home on the couch watching the event. In today’s technologically heavy society, fans want to be able to keep tabs on everything that is going on in the world of sports. One perk will be the new menu of in-stadium programming which will include replays of other teams’ Red Zone highlights. Needless to say, the deal struck between the Pac-12 conference and AT&T has paved the way for other schools to make similar deals and achieve the overall goal of enhancing the fans’ experience of the game.