LAFC talks football and Wi-Fi with Ruckus

The Ruckus Room recently toured the Banc of California Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC). During our visit, we met with Christian Lau, VP Information Technology at LAFC, to discuss the stadium’s unique Wi-Fi experience.

“[Before building our network], we did a tour of venues around the country: stadiums, arenas, and leagues,” Lau told The Ruckus Room.

“We looked at what everybody was doing and what the experts considered to be the best of breed. We brought all that back to Los Angeles and built a stadium with a tech stack that was reliant on all the information we had found. We basically took what the best possible use cases were and how they were able to put in that infrastructure – and then we built that here.”

According to Lau, reliability was one of the most important considerations for LAFC, along with future-proofing the new network.

“[This is why we chose] a variety of indoor and outdoor Ruckus 802.11ac wireless access points (APs), Ruckus SmartZone controllers, and Ruckus Cloudpath,” he stated. “Our access points are placed differently throughout the venue in the bowl. Everything is actually installed under the seats – it sits with an OMT as well as the access point.”

As Lau points out, Ruckus built an access point that was specifically designed to fit the requirements of the Banc of California Stadium.

“We have an access point for every 70 seats in the stadium bowl. In certain areas, they’re hung either on the ceiling on walls and in unobtrusive places,” he elaborated. “The key features in choosing Ruckus for us really came down to the engineering team and the solution. Ruckus didn’t [initially] have a product that fit our exact need, [yet] was able to build one [specifically for us]. We don’t get that from any of their competitors.”

As Lau notes, the LAFC also uses wireless connectivity for many of its back-of-house operations such as ticketing, concessions, merchandise, and even parking systems. Wi-Fi is also used to help customers access the LAFC app in the stadium.

“We use the LAFC app today primarily for ticketing, although we also have a digital wallet. [Another] of the app’s key features is an AI-powered chatbot known as Otto,” he explained. “It allows our customers to ask questions: where to get a beer, where to buy food, if they have points of interest they’re looking for, restrooms, or things like that.”

Lau emphasized that the LAFC has been “exceptionally happy” with the Ruckus sales and engineering teams.

“They’ve been phenomenal. We love working with those guys – great personalities and they get things done for us. We couldn’t be happier,” he added.

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