February 5, 2011; Dallas, TX, USA; The profile of Richard Dent (not pictured) is displayed on the videoboard while he speaks over the phone during a press conference naming the NFL Hall of Fame class of 2011 at the Super Bowl XLV media center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

M&T Bank Stadium: The Ultimate Fan Experience

Jan 15, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; M&T Bank Stadium

Football is back!  It was exciting to watch the Ravens compete in their first pre-season contest.  It would be interesting to see how many man-hours Ravens fans spent the next day discussing the team’s performance.  Much of that debate continues into their next pre-season game against the Lions on Friday.  Unlike their previous event, however, this will be the first non-practice event of the season held at M&T Bank Stadium.

Countering the league-wide trend of declining ticket sales (offset of course by surging television viewership), the Baltimore Ravens have sold out every single home game since 1996.  This is evidence of both the rabid loyalty of Ravens supporters and the success that Steve Bisciotti and his folks have had in creating an excellent in-game experience.

Not satisfied with excellent, however, the Ravens seek further improvement in the area.  Specifically, the club has partnered with Verizon to install over 800 3G and 4G antennae (yes this is the correct plural of a singular antenna…) throughout the stadium.  Also, they have created a smart phone application which allows users to access real-time game information including statistics and select video clips.

Not too long ago I had the opportunity to work with the IT community and I am excited about the possibilities these technologies can offer for enhancing the in-game experience.  That said, here are a few recommendations for the organization to consider.  If there are any entrepreneurial members of the Ravens staff or Ravens Nation, feel free to implement any of the following (I merely ask a small donation, a few tickets pray tell, if any of these result in significant revenues…you can reach me via twitter…)

1)      Ticket sales: How about having my tickets delivered to my smart phone?  You know, have a bar code or QR code that stadium personnel could scan when I enter the stadium.  This could go a step further by allowing me to purchase said tickets.  Furthermore, let’s get rid of the bar codes all together.  Near Field Communication (NFC) is likely to be a standard feature of future smart phones, why shouldn’t the Ravens be on the bow wave of exploiting such technology?  In addition to streamlining the entry experience, mass adoption of “smart tickets” would have to save a nickel or two in printing expenses.

2)      Parking: Since we’re on the topic of paying for things, why not distribute parking passes in a similar manner.  Not only could I roll through the gate without breaking out my wallet, but with a little imagination there has to be a way use existing location services to direct me to the nearest open spot.  Once I get there, my phone could report back to some amorphous cloud-based server telling everyone else that spot is now taken.  It would also be uber cool if I could link this service with my existing contacts (those with whom I decide to share the information of course) to coordinate tail gate spots.  The PhD level of this portion of the app would be a “sandbox” where my buds and I could coordinate on the required tail gating items and then de-conflict who is bringing what.

3)      In-stadium navigation: OK, anyone with half a brain can find their seats by following section number signs, and most are smart enough to pre-identify important landmarks like the nearest restroom and concession stand while en route.  It would be nice, however, to be able to hit the toilet or beer panic button to find the nearest rescue station in the event that prior planning was forgotten.  Add some sort of “wait” indicator here, say a webcam feed (outside the restroom, not in it…) and a point out to the next nearest facility and we’re off to the races…

4)      Food and beverage sales: If my wallet isn’t needed to park or get in the stadium, why would I need it to purchase provisions while inside?  A nifty solution would be to select an icon representing the appropriate concession area, make my selections, pay via credit card and download some sort of bar/QR code (or NFC code).  Then I could walk up to the stand, have my device scanned, and walk away with my order.  Now that I think about it, why even leave the seats.  A few years ago I attended a Mariners game at Safeco Field in Seattle.  There was an enterprising beer vendor there that used twitter to gain a competitive edge over the competition.  You tweeted your section and seat with your order and BAM!  It showed up a few minutes later.  The Ravens could combine both of these features in the ultimate fan experience app…

5)      Post-game transportation: Even though this ultimate app can probably give me directions back to my car, let’s assume that for whatever reason, I have decided that driving home is a bad option…  How about a link to public transportation schedules and/or a taxi dispatching service.  In fact, what if I don’t even want to go home yet?  There is a lot to do in downtown Baltimore, perhaps the Ravens have a few partners that wouldn’t mind advertising (for a small fee of course) all of these wonderful opportunities to about 71,000 people…

6)      Play calling: According to most Ravens blogs there are many Ravens fans confident in their ability to call a better game than Cam Cameron.  Most of this analysis, of course, occurs after the game is over.  Why not let them try during the game?  I can envision an app where folks sign in and compete against other fans in play calling.  Those who choose the same play Cam called get points and those who choose incorrectly loose points.  Periodically, the names of the top 10 competitors get highlighted on the jumbo-trons.  Maybe the winner even gets tickets for a future game.  As an added bonus, all the additional data give Sandy Weil something else to sift through…

I’m sure there are other services that members of the Ravens Nation would like to see, but these are the ones that immediately come to my mind.  Add these things to those already considered and the Ravens would have the Ultimate In-Game Experience App.  I’d call it “Relentless”.

What would you like to see?  Let the crowd sourcing begin…

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Tags: Baltimore Ravens NFL Ravens Sandy Weil Smart Phone Apps Steve Bisciotti

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