In 2014, the Chicago Cubs and Ricketts family announced the launch of the 1060 Project, a multi-year undertaking that would expand and restore the city’s beloved Wrigley Field. Throughout the restoration process, developers have been tasked with upgrading the ballpark for future generations, while maintaining its history and charm. When Extreme and PCM teamed up to provide wired and wireless solutions throughout Wrigley field and its clubhouse, we were excited by the challenge and committed to supporting the Cubs’ technology initiatives moving forward.
In total, the project encompasses significant enhancements for the Wrigley Field neighborhood. More than 30,000 square feet of space has been carved out for new player facilities, including an underground clubhouse and locker room, strength and conditioning center, media center, offices and a lounge. Once this expansion is completed, over 1,000 Extreme access points will have been deployed throughout Wrigley Field and its surrounding district, delivered by the combined efforts and expertise of Extreme and PCM.
These types of projects are especially exciting to work on given their unique nature, not to mention the ability to work with one of the most storied franchises in Major League Baseball. How do we bring some of the most advance Wi-Fi technology to one of the nation’s oldest, most historic fields? Working closely with the PCM and the Cubs, we approach every stadium deployment from an individual perspective and design a deployment strategy specific to the needs of that venue; in this case seamless technology that connects fans without disrupting their experience.
As we look forward to our continued work with the Cubs, I had the opportunity to sit down with Andrew McIntyre, Vice President of Technology with the Chicago Cubs, who drives the teams overarching technology initiatives including its support of the 1060 Project, to understand more about the broader goals for the project, how it will impact the fan experience at Wrigley Field and the surrounding area, and how he sees technology as central to supporting this endeavor.
How do you view the relationship between technology and sports, specifically related to the fan experience at a venue (and its surrounding area)?
Technology plays a critical role in a fan’s experience at a venue. Organizations should provide an experience that will start or build upon a lifelong relationship between the fan and the team, and hopefully the venue. Technology is found in almost every facet of the experience – from researching and purchasing tickets to an event, to immersing oneself in the sights and sounds throughout a venue. All of these factors shape how a fan consumes and uses technology.
How do you feel the 1060 Project will transform the fan experience at Wrigley Field and the surrounding area?
As part of The 1060 Project – the restoration and expansion of Wrigley Field which started in the fall of 2014 – we are continuously improving our ballpark. As a result, our players now enjoy state-of-the-art facilities and our fans have access to new amenities that are enhancing the game day experience, including video boards, expanded concessions, new and improved restroom facilities, and much more. In addition to the upgrades inside the Friendly Confines, the Park Wrigley located outside of Wrigley Field offers fans, neighbors, families and visitors a beautiful open-air gathering space for farmer’s markets, community events, festivals and dining.
We also are continuing our efforts to enhance the overall fan experience through technology. We plan to complete our update and overhaul of our Wi-Fi and cellular services by Opening Day 2018.
Why is the network, especially a high-density Wi-Fi solution, a critical part of a team’s technology strategy today?
Our network is crucial in supporting our operations, as well as the technologies we deploy to our fans. Wi-Fi supports every function of our business operations – from scanning tickets at gates to supporting live streaming of content to our media partners. We simply could not function without a robust Wi-Fi network.
What are you plans to incorporate analytics into the technology solution?
Our organization is committed to advanced analytics, which enables us to deliver better results through technology. We understand the best way to maximize our revenue is to be as efficient as possible while also having a deep understanding of the market for the products we offer. We leverage descriptive analytics to understand past purchasing habits of our fans that in return will give fans more options inside and outside the ballpark. Enriching our enterprise data warehouse with locational data provided by our campus Wi-Fi is instrumental in understanding the usage aspect of the fan experience. This will eventually feed our predictive models to better operate and monetize the ballpark.
What are some ways that this information could be used to better serve the fans?
As an organization, we take great pride in making sure fans have a great experience at our ballpark. We use customer data to better understand how they interact with our brand. We often use analytics through various technologies to create segmentation; building a 1:1 customer experience, which will better serve our fans and hopefully keep them coming back to Wrigley Field.
What are key evaluation criteria you use when selecting such mission critical technology?
Each strategic technology solution we select is evaluated across several criteria, usually unique to the type of solution. However, there is one criteria that is utilized for all decisions: innovation. We believe that when you make a strategic decision about technology you also are making an investment in the organization. Selecting solutions tied to organizations with a strong track record as an innovator also is critical to ensuring we are not only picking the best of breed solutions in the market place, but raising the skill and capability of our team.
Photo Credit: Chicago Cubs