Cisco’s StadiumVision Brings New Interactivity to Royals’ Kauffman Stadium

By John Rice

Fans attending Kansas City Royals games this year are experiencing new levels of information and interactivity, thanks to Cisco and ATT interactive-video technology. More than 400 video monitors throughout the stadium are integrated with the new system, providing HD video. Cisco StadiumVision allows customizable content to be sent to screens individually or in groups.

“We’re really about using network technology to transform the experience of sport,” explains David Holland, Cisco SVP and executive sponsor for Sports and Entertainment. “[We are] trying to do this in a way that [retains] the legacy of great venues like Kauffman Stadium in the way that people have always enjoyed watching a baseball game, but recognizing that this new generation of fan is requiring a different kind of experience.”

For example, the network system can allow a single monitor to show a different image from the others. Or the monitors can be programmed in groups. Holland suggests having “neighborhoods,” such as a Spanish-language section. Monitors in concession stands can offer different menus.

“What we’re seeing is different environments,” says Holland. “For example, in one of the lounges, you can sell the sponsorship to that lounge for three innings and have the entire lounge converted to a single advertiser with the flip of a switch. Our goal is to enable the owners and operators of sports franchises to get at any new revenue dollar, whether it be from a new fan or expanding their ability to interact with a fan that is already coming to the park.”

Monitors in the stadium’s suites can be self-configured by guests. Using a remote control or Cisco phone, fans can select camera angles covering the game or even access external feeds of other games from such sources as MLB.TV or ESPN.

Guests in the suites can also use the monitors to order concessions for delivery. Holland says that 95% of suite concessions in Kauffman Stadium are delivered through that order system.

He also points out the system’s ability to change the entire look of a stadium. For example, if the Royals are playing a home game one evening and the stadium is hosting, say, a Garth Brooks concert the following day, all signage can be converted to make it a “Garth Brooks venue, down to the concessions,” he says. By controlling all 400-plus monitors collectively and individually, he says, the venue can “push promotional and advertising content — new signage inventory they can monetize with their sponsors.”

Besides Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium, Cisco has implemented StadiumVision in New York’s new Yankee Stadium. Whereas the Yankee Stadium system was installed with the construction of the venue, Kauffman Stadium was retrofitted into an existing facility.

Holland suggests StadiumVision is the beginning of a longer-term implementation of the “virtual experience.” Future enhancements can include the ability to order concessions from any seat, watch instant replays, or chat with friends inside or outside of the stadium using a mobile device. “That same network is expandable,” he explains. “Over time, you’ll be able to see that same kind of content distributed to other devices — on the way to the park, on the way home, even to the home.”

Cisco is “looking to eventually be able to provide that social community you have around sports,” Holland adds. “Not too far in the future, you’ll be able to watch [a game] with your brother-in-law in Kansas City while you are in Philadelphia and interact as you watch.”

The concept of StadiumVision began “about 2½ years ago to engage in this business, this vertical [world] around sports and entertainment,” he says. “We came up with about 85 different ideas we thought would be relevant and pared down to a handful. Now we’re going to build on that.

“We’re in the very early innings,” he continues, “probably the bottom of the first inning in terms of what’s possible. Eventually, we want to make this a pervasive, immersive experience that people can have anywhere, anytime.”