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Keeping up with the Joneses in the NFL

Levi’s Stadium will be in the spotlight today, with its sustainable design and pumped-up connectivity. With the home of the 49ers, Mercedes-Benz Stadium and U.S. Bank Stadium raising the bar when it comes to advanced capabilities, managers of older stadiums will feel the need to compete.

In fact, that process has already begun. We’re pretty sure you’ll see lots of advanced connectivity and sustainable design in upcoming plans for the new Inglewood Los Angeles Rams stadium (NFL owners are receiving a sneak peak from HKS today, as a matter of fact), and managers of other NFL stadiums are taking note. A good example of a newer stadium needing some modernizing is NRG Stadium, which opened in 2002 as home of the Houston Texans. Since it opened, six  From the Houston Chronicle:

Over time, similar pressure will build for NRG to remain competitive in the league, not just for Super Bowls, said Jim Steeg, a former NFL executive who supervised the league’s special events department for 26 years.

“If you think you’re not going to put money into a stadium for 30 years after you build one, you’re wrong,” Steeg said….

To that end, NRG already is trying to spruce up. Upgrades to stadium suites and club seats are in the works, and a WiFi network is being installed. The total cost could reach $50 million. But after 2017, can Houston compete for another Super Bowl in the years ahead?

“Will they be a contender?” Steeg said. “I think so — as long as they maintain it the way they have and make improvements to stay ahead of the curve.”

Part of the issue isn’t that complicated: tech changes rapidly, and deploying advanced connectivity for big events (like additional bandwidth, more WiFi access points) can often be offset by bringing in a tech partner like Comcast. The price of videoboards keeps going down, and with 4K on the horizon, today’s hi-def displays will look like the old Astrodome LED scoreboard in a few years. But other changes are more challenging: how fans approach the game is changing rapidly, and they want more just a seat overlooking the action: they want lounges, club areas, wide concourses, and a much better game experience.

Image of Levi’s Stadium courtesy of San Francisco 49ers.

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August Publications