Wi-Fi Coach– someone who assists fans with accessing a stadium’s large-scale, high-density wireless network as well as relevant game-day apps. Their mission is to enhance the fan experience. A role originated by Extreme Networks in 2011 to ensure large venue customers had feet on the ground to help enhance the fan experience.
Throughout the NFL, MLB, and collegiate sports venues, you can often find Extreme Wi-Fi Coaches helping fans connect to in-stadium Wi-Fi networks and access gameday applications. Stadiums are investing in Wi-Fi 6 to give fans the highest quality connection and improve fan-facing technologies including stadium apps, mobile ticketing, and cash-free payments. However, fan-facing technologies will only enhance the fan experience, if fans are able to leverage the technologies. Connectivity is a critical piece of enabling these technologies and making the gameday experience enjoyable and successful. When Extreme started the Wi-Fi Coach program 10 years ago at Gillette Stadium, one of Extreme’s first large-scale stadium deployments, it was a way to educate fans on the free and easy access to Wi-Fi they had while at the stadium and that mission still holds true today.
Tony Pagan is one Extreme’s original Wi-Fi Coaches. Based out of Extreme’s Salem, NH office, Tony’s day job is focusing on service logistics for our operations team. However, Tony has been a weekend warrior for Extreme, spending many hours at Gillette Stadium, as well as five Super Bowls (including last year’s Super Bowl, the first 100% cash-free, mobile ticketed NFL game in history) and the 2021 MLB All-Star Week. Needless to say, Tony has a pretty cool gig, so we wanted to chat with him to get a bit more insight on exactly what it means to be a Wi-Fi coach for Extreme.
Yes, I do! I was working at Gillette Stadium, and I was all by myself with no branded clothing or handouts, so no one knew I was a Wi-Fi Coach. My only task was to interact with the fans and let them know they could access free Wi-Fi. It is amazing to see how much we have improved this system over the last 10 years, but this was still an amazing first experience. I am a Patriots fan, so it was surreal being at the game as a Wi-Fi Coach!
Fast, faster, fastest!
Everyone expects to easily get on social media and share their pictures or repost the big play that just happened in the stadium so fans definitely have started to expect more and more over the years from the Wi-Fi network. I remember the first year that RedZone came out. I gathered huge crowds in the concourse to tell them all about the Live Feeds they could access through the Patriots app when they got to their seat and they loved it, especially the Fantasy Football fans!
Fans are very receptive to hearing from us at the games. When we approach them and give them guidance on connecting to the Wi-Fi or downloading the Patriots and Gillette Stadium apps, they are always eager to hear what information we can share and what those apps can do for them. They usually leave excited that they have access to all these cool value-add features!
“Where’s my seat?”
Seriously though, fans often ask, “What’s a Wi-Fi Coach?” and we explain what our role is at Gillette. Usually when we tell them what we do they are impressed that we are there and prepared to help them with any tech-related issues during their time in the stadium.
Before every game, we have a meeting with all the Wi-Fi Coaches, the engineering team, and stadium personnel to go over potential areas to focus on or any new updates to the Wi-Fi or apps. This allows us all to be fully informed so we can answer fans’ questions as best we can.
When I work at Gillette, the process is just that one pregame meeting the day of. When we work the Super Bowls, we must be on-site 3-5 days before kick-off to start preparing! We walk around the stadium to get a lay of the land and learn all the details about the NFL’s Super Bowl app that we will have to promote at the game.
The coolest part of working the Super Bowl is meeting all the different people. When I work at Gillette, it’s usually 90% Patriots fans and 10% opposing team fans so there isn’t a huge mix of people, but at the Super Bowl fans of all teams come and even people from other countries fly in to watch the game!
Since 2012, Extreme Networks has trained and certified over 500 Extreme Networks Wi-Fi Coaches as part of the program at various sports stadiums. Extreme's networking solutions have supported every Super Bowl since Super Bowl XLVIII and ExtremeAnalytics will be in use at SoFi Stadium during Super Bowl LVI in February 2022. Super Bowl LVI will mark the 7th Super Bowl equipped with an all-star team of Wi-Fi Coaches in-stadium assisting fans.
To learn more about the Extreme Wi-Fi Coach program or Extreme’s work with collegiate and professional sports leagues, please visit – https://www.extremenetworks.com/solution/sports-public-venues/