The why, when and how of the Indians new Wi-Fi/4G LTE project at Progressive Field
In case you missed it, the Indians announced on Monday morning that, thanks to a partnership with Verizon, fans now can access Wi-Fi and super-fast 4G LTE at Progressive Field, in an effort to enhance fans’ experience. (Check out tips on how best to take advantaged of the new network at the ballpark.)
Mark Shapiro and Neil Weiss, the club’s Senior VP of technology and Chief Information Officer, chatted Monday afternoon about the project:
Indians President Mark Shapiro
What it means for fans: Fans who came in past years and took out their phones to text, call or download video or watch instant replay, that capability hasn’t been there. Now they’ll be able to do that.
Anything we want to do technologically is dependent on us giving fans a technological infrastructure. Without them having any broadband capability, we couldn’t do much from a fan experience perspective. The reality is anything we wanted to do to enhance fan experience technologically, we needed this.
This was in place for Opening Day but we wanted to learn from what we’ve observed elsewhere and make sure when we announced it that we were confident it could work, so as not to disappoint. What better way than Opening Day to test it? We tested it at maximum capacity and we’ll continue to test it going forward.
We have to increase and enhance fan experience, and the entertainment landscape is fragmented. It includes the home experience, which is compelling. We have to provide our fans the ability to experience the game any way they want, and one way they want it is to have technology be a part of it. While we want to preserve everything special about the building, we also need to modernize it.
Neil Weiss, Senior Vice President of Technology/Chief Information Officer
It was a significant need. Once we got past 10,000 or 12,000 people, you couldn’t send an email or a phone call. We needed this for our fans.
We had some opportunities to make improvements and get up to speed at the ballpark. Weather was an obvious challenge this winter to get this installed from in sub-zero temperatures from November through March.
On Opening Day, we had a full ballpark, and after a soft launch, we had nearly universally positive feedback.
There were some pockets we knew we still needed to improve. This is a season-long project to fine tune. We measure every night and then we make adjustments after every homestand, and rinse and repeat.