Major League Baseball’s (MLB) US$300m investment to make mobile internet more accessible in ballparks is nearly complete, including a new wi-fi network at Busch Stadium – home of the St Louis Cardinals – which had previously been operating with a distributed antenna system (DAS).
By the end of the 2015 season, all but two of the league’s 30 stadia should have working, updated Wi-Fi and DAS deployments. Specific costs beyond the US$300m total by MLB weren’t identified.
According to Ron Watermon, vice president of communications for the St Louis Cardinals, the effort being coordinated by MLB and the league’s interactive media branch, MLB Advanced Media, to bring w-fi and improved cell coverage to all MLB parks is being funded entirely by four carriers: AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon.
“We remain hopeful that the wi-fi improvements will be made here by end of season,” Watermon said.
Wi-fi had been a major goal for St Louis Cardinals chairman and CEO Bill DeWitt Jr, who previously said the biggest obstacle was getting a system capable of serving Busch Stadium’s capacity all at once. DeWitt said that as demand for data among smartphone users has skyrocketed, sports teams have generally fallen behind and are now “chasing our tails on infrastructure”.
The MLB wi-fi project is another technological upgrade for Busch Stadium. Before the 2014 regular season, Apple installed iBeacons throughout 20 MLB stadia across the USA, including Busch. The iBeacon device uses Bluetooth technology to connect with fans via the MLB Ballpark app, available on iPhone and Android devices.
June 26, 2015