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The Importance of Connecting with Our Fans on Game Day: Insights from The New England Patriots VP of Content

Fred Kirsch Publisher and Vice President of Content, Kraft Sports Productions Published 15 Jan 2017

Whether it’s sharing the moment with a photo or streaming a video replay on the Gillette Stadium app, Patriots fans are always looking to stay connected. There to make sure they accomplish this are the Extreme Networks Wi-Fi Coaches. From troubleshooting and alerting fans about the free Wi-Fi Gillette Stadium offers, to educating them on what they can do with it, these Wi-Fi Coaches enhance the fans game day experience. There’s a million touchpoints for fans every game. We try to make sure each touchpoint is a success and adds value to their experience – the Wi-Fi Coaches are just another way we do this.

“Touchpoints could just as easily be points of failure if we didn’t make it a priority to make them all successes. Put yourself in the shoes of a fan, use your common sense, and then do the right thing – enhance the fan experience. Wi-Fi is now a cost of doing business; it’s a necessity not a luxury.”

The Pre-Wi-Fi Era

Prior to 2012 Gillette Stadium only had Wi-Fi available in our clubs. At that time, we created Wi-Fi Coaches and had MIT football players come in to educate fans on the Wi-Fi available for use on Sundays. However, in 2012, once Wi-Fi was wired up throughout the entire stadium, the need to have personnel to educate and assist fans one-on-one became tenfold. Extreme Networks, our network provider and partner, was more than willing to take on the role of Wi-Fi Coaching.

Wi-Fi Coaches Educate Fans

What’s great about our program is that these Wi-Fi Coaches are Extreme Networks employees, so they come in on game day with knowledge of the product. Before the game, they’re focused on educating the fans on the free Wi-Fi, and describing specific features the stadium and the Gillette Stadium app have to offer. People are busy, so it doesn’t matter how many emails we send out, social media posts, or promotions, a good number of fans still don’t know they have free Wi-Fi available to them or understand the benefits of the Gillette Stadium app. That’s where the Wi-Fi Coaches come in. They are onsite, motivated, and represent another valuable touchpoint available to Patriots fans.  

“If you’re going to offer Wi-Fi or a venue app you need to expect that a good portion of your fans aren’t going to understand how to use it. Having people there who understand this, care, and want to help fans just makes the game day experience better. If you go somewhere in this day in age and can’t use your phone, it takes away from your experience.”

“Extreme Wi-Fi Coaches inform early arrivals about the Wi-Fi at Gillette Stadium”

It’s More Than Just a Job

A Wi-Fi Coach’s job goes beyond roaming the stadium during the game, troubleshooting, and educating fans. These coaches come in hours before kickoff to get caught up on anything that may have changed since last game, whether that be new features in our Gillette Stadium app to anything that might be down for maintenance. During the game, fans can send us feedback related to the Wi-Fi in various ways, and because we have the Wi-Fi Coaches we can send one over to help the fan asap. Having personnel evaluate these issues immediately lets our IT team know if the problem is due to user error or something that needs to be followed up on after the game.

Thanks to Extreme Management Center, the Network Command Center personnel have direct visibility into the network, even down to the access point level, that lets them catch issues before they occur. If the NCC needs someone on location to test the network, they can reach out to the Wi-Fi Coaches and have them test the location in real time. Following the game, the Extreme Wi-Fi Coaches debrief us with a weekly report that allows our IT departments to follow up on any issues and make improvements prior to the next home game.

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“My favorite part of the Wi-Fi Coach program is the people. The Extreme team is always excited to be at Gillette. They don’t feel like they are going to work; they are enthusiastic, motivated, and happy. They’re usually just as excited as the fans. That enthusiasm is fantastic, because they are representing the Patriots and Gillette Stadium when they interact with the fans.”

The Wi-Fi Coach Team ready to go on game day

Wi-Fi Enabled the Fan Experience to Reach the Next Level

If we didn’t have Wi-Fi it wouldn’t be beneficial to have a Gillette Stadium app. Our app has live video streaming, replays, wake-up calls, traffic monitoring, and more. It’s very much a value-add to the fans and a gap filler. Our big screen can’t play replays all the time, so having the app available to fans lets them replay a certain play as many times as they want and enhances their experience at the game. Wi-Fi enables us to have the app, but having the Wi-Fi Coaches there to educate fans on it enhances the use of it even further.

In-venue Wi-Fi gives fans the capability of staying connected throughout their experience at Gillette Stadium and the Wi-Fi Coach program ensures that fans know about it. Often, I hear our fans say, “the Wi-Fi Coach saved my day” because they were there and able to assist the fan with whatever they needed. Regardless of the kind of assistance a fan needs, from using the Wi-Fi or just wanting to know more about the Gillette Stadium app, having a person there that fans can interface with enhances the fan experience.

If you’d like to learn about the Patriots Wi-Fi Coach program or their network solution, please view these resources:

Just so you know, Super Bowl LII will be the 3rd Super Bowl equipped with an all-star team of Extreme Networks Wi-Fi Coaches in-stadium assisting fans. The 2017 NFL season is Extreme’s 3rd straight season holding the title of the Official Wi-Fi Provider of the NFL, and it marks Extreme’s 5th consecutive year as the Official Wi-Fi Analytics Provider of the Super Bowl.

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