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Cisco, Verizon Retrofit Staples Center

Carol Wilson
10/18/2011
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Los Angeles Kings fans tonight will get a look at what digital video technology can deliver, even to an older venue. The Staples Center, owned and operated by AEG , brought in Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) to update its video technology. With high-def TV on ever-larger screens, instant fantasy team results and multiple viewing angles, the in-arena viewing experience will attempt to keep the excitement level high, because apparently watching sports live is only part of what convinces folks to buy pricey seats and suites.

Fans in luxury suites will soon be able to customize their viewing experience by using a Cisco VoIP phone to choose the camera angles for their in-suite sets, and to order food directly from concessionaires instead of settling for a set menu or a person pushing a cart.

There is hope for some use of social networking apps in the arena, too, presumably to let fans communicate with each other, or engage in digital dissing of visiting teams.

Most of the other improvements are aimed at efficiencies -- Staples can now easily transform digital displays depending on the game, team or special event, quickly creating customized signage and branding. That customization extends to concession stands, where food and promotional items can be tailored to a specific event and sales can be promoted to seated fans via their smartphones.

Promotions will also reach fans before they enter Staples, during the game or concert and afterward, when they are on their way home but might want to stop to buy a CD or T-shirt from a nearby store, like the nearest Staples.

Cisco and Verizon, which primarily provided professional services, teamed up earlier on the new Meadowlands Stadium in New York, and Cisco also was involved in the new Cowboys monstrosity in Dallas. (See Verizon & Cisco Grace the Gridiron.)

What makes this different, says JT Timmons, VP of global enterprise sales for Verizon, is that it's a retrofit of an existing stadium, and not built in from the ground up. No one is saying what AEG paid for the retrofit, but Verizon and Cisco see much more opportunity in digitally dressing up existing venues than in working solely on new ones.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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