News Column

AT&T Stadium offers new interactive game day features

August 15, 2014

By Susan Schrock, Fort Worth Star-Telegram



Aug. 15--ARLINGTON -- Faster Internet speeds, interactive digital displays and a mobile app that lets fans see their photos on the big screens are among new features at AT&T Stadium designed to create a more personalized game-day experience.

For the past year, the Dallas Cowboys have worked with telecommunications giant AT&T to more than double the capacity of the stadium's cellular and Wi-Fi networks so fans can upload their photos and videos to social media and make purchases more quickly. Touch-screen video boards and a mobile app, which lets Cowboys fans fill the stadium with pulsing lights to help cheer on the team during tough plays, also provide new ways for stadium visitors to take a more active role in what's happening on the field, officials said.

"We've invested millions to make sure the fan experience is the best we can possibly make it," said Scott Mair, AT&T's senior vice president for network planning and engineering.

Fans will be able to check out the technology improvements as well as the resurrection of the outdoor Miller Lite Corral, which was a staple at Texas Stadium in Irving for years, starting today at the Cowboys preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens. The team's new mobile app, which allows fan interaction through a feature called "Unite this House," won't launch until the Sept. 7 season opener against the San Francisco 49ers.

"When we set out to design and build AT&T Stadium, we knew we had an opportunity to do something special," said Charlotte Jones Anderson, the Cowboys' executive vice president and chief brand officer. "This venue was meant to be a destination. We really wanted to build an architectural icon that would be recognized and respected around the world for its modern architecture, its contemporary design, its capacity, its engineering and its technology. What we really wanted to do was represent innovation."

Fan photos

The stadium's most prominent new feature is a 130-foot long display board over the north end zone that will feature game-day stats, photos submitted by fans and vibrant visuals designed to amp up the crowd. The 80,000-pound display is made up of 40 individual mirror-backed LED panels designed to rotate in sync with images, music and videos.

Fans can use the team's new mobile app to submit photos that will be flashed on the screen as well as answer trivia questions.

Visitors can also learn personal facts and check out photos and videos about Cowboys players and cheerleaders through 7-foot-tall touch-screen displays known as "immersive columns." The interactive displays will also contain facts about the $1.2 billion stadium, its 58-piece art collection and the major events that have been held there.

"We're not done yet. We are going to continue to add on, continue to build and maintain our reputation as the most technologically advanced sports facility in the world," said John Winborn, the Cowboys' chief information officer.

Other improvements are out of sight but just as critical to fan experience, officials said. Since putting its name on the stadium last year, AT&T increased its number of cellular antennas to 1,300 and its number of Wi-Fi antennas to 1,500 to keep up with a growing number of fans who use their mobile devices to capture sporting events and concerts.

"Inside this facility is the equivalent of 17 cell sites. That's enough to cover the entire city of McKinney, Texas. That's a lot of coverage, and that's a lot of capacity. That's really what it takes to have a great fan experience," Mair said.

Miller Lite Corral

The Cowboys are also looking to enhance the fan experience outside the stadium.

The Miller Lite Corral, which will feature entertainment for ticket holders before and after games, opens today on the West Plaza. The 8,000-square-foot shade structure features 18 televisions, including a 90-inch big screen, a DJ, concessions, a stage for live entertainment and an area for entertaining VIP guests. Fans can also enjoy appearances by thes Cowboys cheerleaders and performances by the Rhythm and Blue dance team.

The Miller Lite Corral will be open for three hours before kickoff and will stay open until two hours after each game.

"It was a big hit pregame and postgame with our fans at Texas Stadium. After we moved into the new stadium, it's always been at the back of our minds to create a space for people to congregate. Now felt like the right time," Cowboys spokesman Brett Daniels said.

The original Corral outside Texas Stadium was a favorite gathering place for Cowboys fans for nearly 20 years.

"We hope it feels very familiar to the aspects of the old Corral. Hopefully it will be the perfect place to tailgate," Anderson said. "We're happy to bring it back, to bring back a little more tradition to AT&T Stadium."

Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639 Twitter: @susanschrock

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(c)2014 the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram (TX)


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