Mobile technology helps keep football fans in the stands

  • Colleges and universities are enhancing the football stadium experiences with wireless technology.
  • AT&T helped TCU roll out a Wi-Fi network and mobile app so fans stay connected.

One of the best parts of attending a college football game is when the students break out into a chorus of “Zombie Nation” or The White Stripes’, “Seven Nation Army,” after a big play. These familiar anthems, sung by thousands of enthusiastic undergrads, are part of what makes college football so exciting. But lately, the student section hasn’t been as loud as it used to be. Students and alumni are staying home to watch the games.

ESPN ran a series of articles about this issue earlier this year. In these features, students discussed why they were not attending games in person. Reasons cited included ticket policies, trite in-game entertainment, long lines, and foremost, lack of cellphone reception at the stadium. Others identified the comfort of watching games at home or at their dorm as a reason to not attend – a big screen TV with surround sound is a compelling alternative to crowds, inclement weather, or spotty wireless reception.

Improving in-stadium connectivity

AT&T is helping colleges and universities across the country keep fans coming to games through innovative technology designed to give fans the best experience on game day. Texas Christian University, for example, rolled out a Wi-Fi and a Distributed Antenna System network  as well as mobile apps to give their fans the ultimate game day experience. They are setting the standard in connectivity at Amon G. Carter stadium. Fans stay connected to social media, where they can share game highlights instantly, pull up stats and scores, and watch replays. “In-stadium connectivity is becoming an essential component of the game day experience at stadiums across the country,” says Adam Vital, Vice President and General Manager, North Texas, AT&T. “Whether fans are using mobile apps, making calls, checking email, or surfing the internet, they are looking for reliable connectivity. TCU is looking to the future of the on-campus mobile experience, and by turning to AT&T, we worked together to create an enhanced network to power the in-stadium experience.”

Stanford University is also getting in the game with its high-tech stadium and its app, Gameday Live! In addition to having access to replays and real-time stats, fans can go paperless by accessing their tickets on their mobile device.

For schools who haven’t upgraded their stadium experience, fans may feel they’ll be cut off from the outside world during the game. Access to mobile networks inside venues can help address the temptation to stay at home to enjoy the games.

Hopefully we’ll be hearing Zombie Nation at football games for years to come, rather than sitting in zombie stadiums. Attendance at college football games — and the role technology plays — will be fascinating to track for years to come.

Chris Roy Government and Education Client Group Operations Vice President AT&T About Chris