13. Stadiums are going even more high-tech
These days, going to the game is just as much about the stadium experience as it is about the game, thanks to NFL teams that are doing everything they can to draw fans to the seats: A five-story-tall, 360-degree HD video halo board (Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium). A translucent roof and facades that provide natural light and keep out the elements (Minneapolis’ US Bank Stadium). Free high-speed WiFi to stream video and post photos online (too many to name). One of the most intriguing new offerings is VenueNext’s app, which is a sort of digital concierge for game attendees. So far, it’s available in only two stadiums, the Vikings’ and 49ers’ venues, but more are on the way. Here are the app’s coolest features.
Navigate through the stadium: The app can do everything from helping direct you to the closest parking lot with open spots to locating the nearest bathroom with the shortest line. You can order food to be delivered to your seat and buy memorabilia to pick up at the nearest kiosk. The most popular use of the app is simply finding your way around the stadium (40 percent of attendees to NFL games are first-timers) and searching out the best vendors to get the exact food you’re craving.
Bypass the beer lines: One of the most popular uses last year was a simple feature that allowed users to pay for beer through the app, then swing by and pick up a few cold bottles at coolers placed strategically throughout the stadium (which are watched by an attendant). No line, and no missing a crucial play.
Watch replays in 3-D on your phone: The newest addition to VenueNext’s platform is a partnership with Intel Sports that will allow fans in the stadiums, via their smartphones, to view the same 3-D replays that TV networks broadcast. Soon those fans in their seats will be able to control the 3-D replays themselves, pausing the play and zooming around virtually on the field, just like in a video game—except with a play you’ve just witnessed in real life. Welcome to the brave new NFL.
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