How do you keep fans paying top dollar to attend live gridiron contests in an era when DIRECTV's (DTV) NFL Sunday Ticket broadcasts every single game into living rooms? Make attendance more entertaining, that's how.
Speaking on CNBC on Monday, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross explained how he is in the process of installing high-density Wi-Fi at the team's Sun Life Stadium. When the process is complete in 12 weeks, fans will be able to use their smartphones to stream instant replays, watch other games, and engage with social media.
Purists Will Cringe
Ross's high-tech initiatives may not sit well with some fans. Shouldn't the game taking place on the field be enough?
Folks sitting in Cleveland's Dawg Pound bleachers or the traditionalists at Lambeau Field in Green Bay who have had their season tickets handed down through several generations may be shaking their heads.
Unfortunately, the league's commercial-grabbing ways have tried to maximize television revenue by making official timeouts longer and keeping the game clock running. There are now just a handful of minutes of actual football taking place in a three-hour game. As patrons arm themselves with smartphones and tablets, will teams neglect the need to reward those in attendance?
Ross claims that the Dolphins are the first team to offer high-density Wi-Fi. Connectivity will be a welcome treat since most wireless carriers falter in the stadium when nearly 75,000 fans are at a game on a growing array of devices.
This isn't the first time Ross has been criticized for his entertainment-oriented moves: Diehard fans scoff at the orange carpet he installed so celebrities and VIPs can arrive at the game in style. When he turned an end zone suite into the Club LIV nightclub, many questioned the logic of creating a clubbing vibe during a scorching Sunday afternoon.
However, the team has managed to continue to sell out home games despite a sorry streak of losing seasons. Ross concedes that there is only so much that he can do to improve the product on the field, but the off-field experience is entirely under his control.
Tweeting during a key drive or posting in-game snapshots to Facebook (FB) may seem to eliminate the fan fervor that creates a home field advantage, but it's hard to argue against the customer always being right.
If fans want to hit up Twitter or interact with some of Facebook's 955 million active users during a drawn-out official's timeout, the bigger crime may be to deny that friend request.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any stocks in this article. He's been a Miami Dolphins season ticket holder since 1987. The Motley Fool owns shares of Facebook. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Facebook.