Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gadgets and Innovations Dodger Stadium Should Consider

Besides the myriad small and insignificant deals that the Dodgers did at the Winter Meetings this year, I had thought that the most interesting part of this year's Winter Meetings was the inexplicable need to have a logo design:

(Yeah, that's going to sell a whole lot of t-shirts.)

But little did I know that at the meetings, there was also a full-on tradeshow of interesting gadgets and stadium innovations, as reported by the NYT:

ORLANDO, Fla. — Like a rapidly spreading fire, word began to circulate Wednesday through the crowded lobby of the Dolphin Hotel at baseball’s winter meetings. General managers, scouting directors and at least one owner had heard the news and were eager to see if it was true.

What seized their curiosity was not the fast-developing Carl Crawford signing or speculation over Cliff Lee’s future. Instead it came from the bowels of the hotel, where a trade show booth was demonstrating a product that could revolutionize scouting and coaching.

Steve Goody, the chief executive of Pocket Radar, a new company that developed a radar gun the size of an iPhone, was trying to keep up with the mushrooming demand.

Stay with me. It gets better...

At one booth, Brian Traudt explained his company’s innovation, which could improve the fan experience at stadiums, unless some people actually enjoy waiting in line for three innings for a cheeseburger. The product, Bypass Lane, is a kind of E-ZPass for concession stands that is administered through an application on a smartphone.

The user enters the stadium and confirms its location via GPS. Once the section, row and seat number are included, the application identifies all the concession stands and provides menus. The fan orders — and pays — from the phone. When the order is ready, the fan receives a text message to pick it up at a lane dedicated to Bypass Lane orders. The fan can skip the longer lines — though perhaps not the jealous glances of other fans.

Fans may also buy souvenirs, hats and jerseys with the application. Bypass Lane also has a feature called Last Call, which notifies patrons when beer sales are about to conclude.

“We really believe this is going to revolutionize the fan experience,” said Traudt, the director of venue operations for Bypass Lane. “Fans can spend more time watching the game in their seats instead of waiting in line all that time.”

A few feet away, another company, Stadium VIP, was selling a similar service. Started by the company that owns, Stadium VIP can also facilitate price reductions to move stock late in games, and in some cases, food can be served to the fans in their seats. So far these services are available at only a handful of stadiums, but the concept was introduced just last year.

Not having to wait in Dodger Stadium's interminable food lines? SIGN. ME. UP. Like Disneyland's FastPass system, this just gives fans more time to enjoy the game...or buy other concessions. Brilliant. Come on, Frank / Jamie / Vladimir, make the deal!

Bruce Skrien of Cool Media developed a misting tower attached to a lighted advertisement. Last summer the first unit was installed at Wrigley Field in Chicago, and he was at the exhibition hoping to find more teams interested in leasing the product.

Interesting, though not break-frame. Still, this too could be useful during Sunday day games, or on Bleacher Beach...just a thought.

Investing to improve the Dodger Stadium experience...wasn't that what current ownership was dedicated to do anyway (and to be fair, the field level refresh rocks the house, as a generalization)? Keep it up! Let's do more!



Nostradamus said...

Bring on the bypass lane. Might that also include higher bandwidth at the Ravine so we might actually be able to use our fancy smartphones?

Jason said...

A small, but kind of cool part of my job actually involves running something similar to the bypass lane for the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. You can order food and drinks from your seat and have it delivered at any time. We've been doing it for a few years now, the only caveat is you have to use a Nintendo DS to place your order. The Mariners do have booths that will loan you a new DSi unit for the game (and take an imprint of your credit card in case you decide to leave with said loaner). There are a bunch of other bells and whistles in the system (streaming video of whatever is on the in-stadium TVs, ESPN's stat and game tracker applications, live chat etc...).

It is pretty cool to punch in your seat number and order a beer while you wait in the TSA-level security line outside and then find that beer waiting for you once you get to the cheap seats in the upper deck.

Fred's Brim said...

@Jason that is awesome.
The nintendo connection is a no-brainer but would they open that up to others?

Josh S. said...

@Mr. C: The network only needs to be improved enough for us to get in the queue before Dioner, or there'll be no food left.

Fred's Brim said...

And a gadgety question: Has anybody heard if will be available for Android phones next year? At Bat was available but streaming games was not

Jason said...

@FB - A roll out to other stadiums was part of the original plan for the system but it (obviously) hasn't happened yet. There is no technical reason it can't happen though I imagine other teams would want support for other wifi devices like iPads which I can't see Nintendo investing much into.

I should also note that the in-game chat feature uses a profanity filter that is even more restrictive than the SoSG Fantasy Football filter. The up side for me is pulling up the list to find out how to tell someone to f' off in a dozen different languages when the need arises.

Steve Sax said...

NPUT, re: Guerrier