How Will the 2022 NFL Season Change the Future of Fandom?

The 2022 Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, this week kicks off the National Football League’s 103rd season with a nod to the past. Despite featuring a matchup between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Las Vegas Raiders— a recently founded and recently relocated franchise, respectively —the showdown will take place in Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, a 23,000-seat venue which regularly serves high school and college football.

A Picture of Allegiant Stadium

A New Generation of Fandom

While this pre-season kickoff will have many players and fans recalling school-age scrimmages and a much smaller-scale NFL, both the Raiders and the Jaguars have home fields that are nothing if not massive and modern. For starters, both fields have seating capacity that exceeds 65,000, catering to not just the NFL but top-selling musical acts as well as professional soccer.

But when it comes to the fan experience, Las Vegas’s home turf is truly next-generation. As one of the newest landmarks on the Las Vegas Strip, Allegiant Stadium boasts a bevy of first-ofs when it comes to stadium tech.

For starters, the arena is equipped with almost 230 miles of fiber optic and 1.5 million feet of copper cable that help support WiFi throughout, as well as the more than 2,400 screens (most in 4K) that are found within. Powering these screens are multi-camera live streams that aim to allow attendees full visibility of game play wherever they are within the stadium—whether that’s remotely ordering drinks from any of the dozens of cashier-less concessions, or leveraging the Raiders app to figure out the best route through the parking lot.

The sheer amount of visual data being collected and shared at Allegiant is staggering. While the 1,700 WiFi 6 access points throughout the complex are available to help consumers split time between watching their phones and the field, this connected infrastructure also helps power critical systems like the stadium’s high-resolution security cameras across all 10 levels of the structure. 

So while Allegiant may be one of the most eye-catching spots on the Vegas Strip, its ability to capture visual data is nearly unmatched in the NFL. Thanks to the stadium’s systems of camera, not only can Allegiant’s security team keep track of potential risks, but fans can leverage the same systems to monitor concession lines or find parking spaces before they even leave their seats. 

The Big Game and the Big, Big Screen

Last year, Super Bowl LVI brought one of the most exciting playoff seasons in recent memory to a close as the Los Angeles Rams took home the Lombardi Trophy. But last  year’s Big Game was as much a showcase for SoFi Stadium and its impressive tech as it was for the Rams.

The brand-new stadium, opened in September of 2020, features the “eighth wonder of the sports world,” a 70,000-square foot, dual-sided infinity video board. This is in addition to a retractable roof that doubles as a video screen. SoFi Stadium leverages state-of-the-art technology throughout, partnering with Square to offer cashless and contactless concessions for over 1,000 registers. The Rams’ home field even has its own mobile app! Best of all, SoFi promises to become an inspiration for future venues. The fan experience at SoFi won’t just set a high bar for future Super Bowls but for large-scale public events in general.

SoFi Stadium is the first venue in the United States to implement digital twin technology. This tech involves the creation of 3-D digital copies of physical objects. They’re created using digitized blueprints, coordinates, and different sensors, like cameras. The virtual copy of the building allows operators to focus on specific areas that need attention and react to data streams in real time. One of the most fascinating aspects of digital twin technology in a large venue like SoFi stadium is the opportunity to analyze patron behavior and use these insights to improve the gameday experience. Optimizing each fan’s time in SoFi Stadium will rely on a combination of digital twin technology and vision AI.

Computer Vision and the Fan Experience

Computer vision models created using Plainsight’s no-code vision AI platform make it possible for venues to centralize the tracking and flow of patrons–their movements, dwell times, and paths–while obscuring personal identities to ensure privacy. With strategically-placed cameras and vision AI solutions, facilities can create and train custom computer vision models to generate insights around everything from egress bottlenecks, to fan engagement, to concession sales trends.

An example of facilities patron heat mapping, for people flow and dwell time

Concession and retail sales are a particular area where vision AI can make a huge impact on the patron experience. Imagine taking a picture of another fan wearing a t-shirt that you like, uploading it into the venue’s mobile app, and immediately learning if the shirt is in stock and where you can find it. What about walking into a stadium marketplace, scanning your app’s QR code, selecting your items, and then going back to your seat to enjoy the game with a digital receipt? With vision AI technology and a rich data stream, those scenarios aren’t just a future possibility, they are a future probability.

SoFi can seat a little over 70,000 people and host 100,000 in standing room only conditions. With so many fans going in and out, it is almost impossible to quantify the amount of data this smart stadium will generate and exciting to consider the new patron experiences it will enable, especially with the incorporation of vision AI.

To find out more about how vision AI can transform your smart stadiums, venues and facilities management systems contact us.

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