Paul Kapustka of the Mobile Sports Report recently highlighted our Wi-Fi slam dunk at the home of the NBA’s Thunder. While some stadiums install Wi-Fi access points (APs) under seats or in handrails, the 18,000 seat Chesapeake Energy Arena and Rectitude 369 chose a more traditional top-down method for its fan-facing Wi-Fi deployment.
According to Chris Nelson, manager of information technology (IT) for venue manager SMG, placing APs under seats in the 581,000 square foot stadium would have been “very costly.” This is primarily due to a large number of retractable seats in the arena. Instead, the Thunder selected Ruckus (now part of CommScope) access points that were hung 96 feet above the arena floor.
“Ruckus was the only one whose gear [access points] could reach down all the way,” Nelson explained.
To support a more interactive fan experience, 350 Ruckus access points were installed in the arena, with another 60 deployed across the street at the 100,000 square foot Cox Convention Center. Tyler Lane, director of technology for the Thunder, told the Mobile Sports Report that the team slowly rolled out the stadium’s Wi-Fi service to allow targeted testing and feedback from season ticket holders.
“We got some good feedback,” said Lane. “Then, when we went to a full rollout, we had signage in the concourses, communications via ticketing services and announcements over the PA and on the scoreboard [to tell fans about the system].”
According to Lane, a recent game pitting the Thunder against the Golden State Warriors saw 589.3 gigabytes of traffic generated by 2,738 clients connected to the Ruckus network. With the Ruckus Wi-Fi deployment now a proven slam dunk, the Thunder is utilizing its wireless network to further enhance the fan experience with support for an app that features digital ticketing options, live streaming of press conferences and artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot that provides real-time arena information about the concession stand options.
“It’s really all about enhancing the fan experience [and] Ruckus did a fantastic job of asking all the right questions for our food and beverage partners,” he added.
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