Yesterday was Seahawks Sunday here in Seattle, and it started as any one of these would. Woke up at 6am to get the tailgating party started. Checked the weather and checked for directions on my iPhone. Scootered over to Utah St. right behind Macrina Bakery on 1st Avenue since it wasn’t raining. My dad and I setup shop and used my iPhone to notify folks of our location and coordinated by messaging missing items. When the tailgate started, we were able to post photos onto Facebook and Twitter easily and even comment on status for folks to come on by before the game. From 6am to 1pm, using the internet was as smooth as being at home — but when you hit CenturyLink Field, you can kiss that goodbye.
It’s funny with a stadium named after “high-speed internet” company like CenturyLink, it exactly lacks what it sells. It was the same feeling when it was called Qwest Field. This isn’t anything new. As a season ticket holder for the last several years, I’ve always found myself doing the patented “lift your hand up high with your phone to get reception” move with no avail. I know it may be my AT&T coverage, but fellow season ticket holders with Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile have had the same problem. This is an issue.
CenturyLink Field hosts over 67,000+ fans each Seattle Seahawk game and even with the Seattle Sounders FC, they’re able to hold 33,000+ fans each game. That’s selling out the stadium each game, and the majority of those rabid fans use smartphones — so why are they making it hard for fans to talk about their product on the field. They’re not leveraging them to spread the word about the players, the teams, the game, and more importantly the experience. The teams are missing out on people posting their thoughts, photos, and location on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. What better idea would it be to provide the fans who are struggling to send out tweets, statuses, and photos with the ability to do so?
For this NFL season, five stadiums have already been outfitted as a pilot for in-stadium wifi: MetLife Stadium (Jets/Giants), Gillette Stadium (Patriots), Bank of America (Panthers), Lucas Oil Stadium (Colts), and the Superdome (Saints). This isn’t a new idea with teams from both the MLB and NFL exploring wifi opportunities. I’m just surprised for a tech hub like Seattle, why don’t we have wifi in CenturyLink Field? As a huge fan, the product is the experience. I’d rather share my experiences in the moment rather than waiting after the game or when I’m home to do so and I believe the majority of the 67,000+ fans feel the same way.