The Evolution of Oracle Park - Innovating the Fan Experience in the Digital Age


The thrill of attending a live game extends far beyond the crack of a bat or the roar of the crowd. It's an immersive experience that begins the moment you step through the gates of a ballpark. Over the years, venues like Oracle Park™, home of the San Francisco Giants™, have undergone a remarkable evolution, adapting to the changing landscape of technology to meet the evolving expectations of modern-day sports fans. In fact, Oracle Park has always been ahead of the curve, being an early adopter of in-stadium Wi-Fi back in 2004 and becoming the first outdoor Wi-Fi 6E-ready stadium in 2023.

The essentials of a ballpark experience have changed. It's no longer just about finding your seat, grabbing a bite, and watching the game unfold on the field. Technology has woven itself seamlessly into the fabric of this experience, redefining what fans expect when they enter the stadium. From the early days when a game could be enjoyed without video boards or seamless mobile connectivity to today where these elements are deemed essential, Oracle Park has been at the forefront of this technological shift. 


From a Ballpark Novelty to an Absolute Necessity

The evolution of Wi-Fi within stadiums mirrors the rapid pace of technological integration in our everyday lives. From being a luxury in the ballpark to an indispensable requirement, Wi-Fi has fundamentally altered the ballpark experience because it serves as the backbone of all modern services and conveniences.

In a recent upgrade at Oracle Park, the move to Wi-Fi 6E marked a pioneering leap in professional sports, amplifying connectivity for fans. With 879 new access points, the network sets the stage for a seamless digital experience. In a Wi-Fi 6E-enabled stadium, a capacity of up to 40,000 fans could stream videos seamlessly, whether that be replays from the current game or checking out what is going on in other games. But this goes beyond casual browsing or watching highlights during the game. In an era of constant information consumption, fans crave more than just the on-field action. They want to stay connected to other sports, track fantasy teams, and engage in many digital activities. 


What is Gameday Without Your Phone?

Picture yourself walking into the stadium without your phone. It isn't just about missing out on taking pictures or contacting friends. The absence of your device can impact every aspect of your game-day journey. Ticketing, once reliant on physical passes, now hinges on mobile access. Digital payments, sports betting, staying updated on other games, and sharing to social media– all of these different parts of the fan experience require a mobile device and a strong network. At this point, it would be easier for you if you forgot your wallet than if you forgot your phone.


With Wi-Fi Comes Analytics – The Power of Data in Stadiums

The integration of Wi-Fi and ExtremeAnalytics in stadiums has transformed the game-day experience into a data-rich environment. It's not just about connectivity anymore; it's about leveraging insights to optimize operations, enhance fan engagement, and unlock new opportunities for growth and innovation within the sports ecosystem.

Since Extreme has [penetrated the sports market so deeply], we can compare how other teams are using its products and learn best practices. We spent millions of dollars — not tens of millions — on the Extreme technology. We will monetize the information and embrace the fan experience.
Bill Schlough
SVP and CIO, San Francisco Giants

Beyond empowering fans, robust wireless networks in stadiums unlock a treasure trove of data – insights that resonate across every facet of the organization. From operations to marketing, each team finds value in leveraging network data to enhance their performance and deliver an optimized experience.

Sports teams are focused on identifying the fans who are in attendance. Since tickets are transferrable, we only know that by tracking what they are doing on their smartphones. Since baseball has its dull moments, fans are on their devices doing things unrelated to the game. While the Giants are playing, fans check on other things — such as NFL Sunday, the Warriors playoffs, and the Master's golf tournament.
Bill Schlough
SVP and CIO, San Francisco Giants

Stadium Operations

Stadium Operations benefit immensely from this data. Analyzing traffic flow within the ballpark can provide crucial insights, guiding decisions about staff allocation, strategic placement of concessions, and understanding of high-traffic areas on gamedays. This intelligence empowers teams to proactively address crowd movement and streamline operations for a smoother fan experience.

Network analytics can also empower stadiums to create more personalized experiences. Teams can use network activity and predict what might happen in the park depending on the weather, team rivalries, timing of the event, and the type of event to make sure that they are prepared.

IT Departments

For the IT department, ExtremeAnalytics and ExtremeCloud IQ become crucial tools. They help identify potential cyber threats, assess network performance, and troubleshoot network issues in real-time. This proactive approach ensures that the network not only meets the demands of the fans but also maintains robust security and stability throughout. IT teams can also use network activity and predict what might happen in the park depending on the weather, team rivalries, timing of the event, and the type of event.

It’s hard to know what you can do with that data until you have that data. Once you have it in front of you, especially in leveraging AI and machine learning, tease out what you can find from, and who knows how you are going to be able to leverage that?
Bill Schlough
SVP and CIO, San Francisco Giants

Marketing Teams

In the world of marketing, this data becomes a goldmine. Understanding which advertisements resonate with the audience, tracking fan visits to different applications, and gauging the impact of promotions on site traffic all contribute to informed decision-making. Leveraging this information, organizations can strike impactful brand deals and tailor their marketing strategies to align with fan interests and behaviors. 

It’s amazing what insights you can gain when you have access to that data… One thing they were able to identify and leverage is with all of the different marketing partners we have in our ballpark, when we do different promotions and other things, is that driving traffic to their sites? Also, looking at where fans are going already in the park with their mobile devices, does that provide insights that we can share with potential sponsors and say, hey, we already have a whole bunch of sponsors who are going to your website or accessing your content. How about we lean into that and promote that at our ballpark.
Bill Schlough
SVP and CIO, San Francisco Giants

Anticipating the Future of Stadium Technology

The journey of technological advancements within stadiums is a testament to human ingenuity, consistently pushing boundaries and redefining what is achievable. However, forecasting the stadium tech landscape remains challenging as it is constantly evolving and presenting new opportunities to explore.

Reflecting on past advancements, even just in player tracking, there have been a lot of changes over the years through new technologies that show the unpredictability of progression in stadiums. What started with basic radar-based pitch speed tracking swiftly escalated into intricate ball and player tracking systems, delving into the details of ball spins and player movements down to individual body parts to inform player performance training.

Navigating the landscape of ballpark connectivity can be complicated. In an era where digital engagement is paramount, deploying these technologies isn't just a luxury anymore – it is a prerequisite to cater to the diverse demands of modern-day fans and ensure seamless operations within the stadium. Oracle Park is embracing all of the different innovative technologies available in order to create a better fan experience.


Pioneering the Stadium of the Future Experience

Oracle Park stands as a beacon of technological evolution in the world of sports. Its journey from the basics to cutting-edge reflects the seismic shifts in fan expectations and stadium experiences. The stadium has created a network that orchestrates operations, fuels marketing strategies, and empowers teams with data-driven insights. Wi-Fi was once a novelty in stadiums, but it is now the lifeblood that keeps operations running and fans satisfied.

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About the Author
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Cammy Perry
Content Marketing Specialist

Cammy is a Content Marketing Specialist at Extreme Networks, leveraging her expertise to craft thought leadership and engaging content.

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