Though McLane Stadium’s sleek exterior and upscale amenities are sure to impress, it’s the innovative technology fueling game-day operations that will give Baylor Bears the ultimate fan experience.
The massive 5,018-square-foot scoreboard and videoboard, five times the size of its predecessor at Floyd Casey Stadium, will give the crowd grand high-definition views of all the action on the field. A new ribbon board around the perimeter of the upper concourse will display stats and news about Baylor’s competitors in the Big 12 and the Top 25.
And in case one misses a play, instant replays can be accessed through a new football app Baylor launched this month.
The free Baylor In-Game app, created through vendor YinzCam, will allow fans at the stadium to replay any of the game action captured by BaylorVision, the university’s in-house video production unit. Users will be able to pick from multiple camera angles to scrutinize and celebrate every down, every play.
“One of the reasons people stay home is that they can have their big HD TV and they can see replays, and they don’t have to wait in the line to go into the bathroom and their concessions are in their fridge,” said Nick Joos, Baylor’s executive associate athletic director.
“I think this is just a way to bring that experience to the fans. If they want to see that great Bryce Petty touchdown throw again and again they can do that at their seats, whereas the videoboard may only be able to show that one time because it’s on to the next play.”
The Baylor In-Game app will also provide game stats, player profiles and Baylor football news, plus offer guidance for parking at the stadium. It can be downloaded for both iPhone and Android devices, as well as iPads and tablet devices.
Baylor has created a guide to navigating the app’s features at www.baylorbears.com/stadiumapp.
Fans won’t have to worry about using up their data plans while streaming the action. McLane Stadium offers free Wi-Fi to the public for both game days and other events at the venue, a feature that was limited to operations and the press at Floyd Casey.
The stadium is blanketed with 330 Wi-Fi antennas. The system is designed to provide service only within the stadium and not the surrounding area, said Pattie Orr, Baylor vice president of information technology and dean of university libraries.
The stadium is also equipped with 486 antennas for an AT&T-powered distributed antenna system, or DAS, to give fans optimal cell phone service and reception from any point in the stadium. AT&T extended offers to other major mobile carriers to use the system, and Verizon has already committed to participate.
“People come to the games for entertainment,” said Brian Nicholson, vice president for facility, planning and construction. “They come to watch the game, but there’s also a large portion that want to sit and put things on social media, take a picture or get on Facebook or Twitter — especially students. A lot of what we went into in the thought process for this whole venue is, how do we get people here, (deliver) a great experience, and how do we keep them here?”
Bob Hartland, associate vice president of information technology infrastructure at Baylor, said the expansive array of Wi-Fi and cellular antennas is designed to ensure visitors have reliable coverage from every point in the stadium. About 200 Wi-Fi antennas are stationed in the “bowl” of the stadium alone, for example.
“The biggest problem with cellular and Wi-Fi is the human body and the fact that it’s built of so much water. Radio waves do not like to transverse through water,” Hartland said. “So that’s the challenge you have, you have a stadium of a bunch of water-carrying vessels that those signals have to permeate through.”
Hartland said Baylor was able to create strategically placed pathways for internet and phone fibers throughout the stadium to make it easier to expand its Wi-Fi, communications and technology capacity in the future.
For example, the stadium has separate networks controlling the elevators, lighting, heating and air conditioning and security systems.
“When you go in and try to retrofit any facility, getting in some areas is structurally or architecturally a challenge,” Hartland said. “In many cases, McLane Stadium was built around the ability to get the infrastructure in place. We wanted to build the stadium predicting technologies five and 10 years out.”