NFL American football franchise the Indianapolis Colts has announced Lucas Oil Stadium will be one of the first sports venues to deploy a WiFi-6 system.

The Colts and Indiana Convention Center & Lucas Oil Stadium have joined forces with telco Verizon, the team’s official wireless service provider, to upgrade WiFi capabilities at the stadium. The new system will boost capacity by 300% and give visitors quicker access to mobile information, statistics, and digital and social content.

The upgrade will be activated in two stages. Enhanced WiFi will be active on stadium levels 100 through 500, covering about 75% of attendees, for Sunday’s home opener versus the Atlanta Falcons. WiFi on the 600 level will be active in time for the October 20 home game against Houston Texans, with the system to be optimised as the season progresses.

“Lucas Oil Stadium is one of the most accessible and enjoyable venues in the world, but we’re always looking to improve the fan experience so that it stays among the best in sports,” said Roger VanDerSnick, Colts chief sales and marketing officer.

“In today’s media and entertainment landscape, fans want quick access to news and statistics, as well as the ability to consume, produce and share content – all while enjoying live game action.”

The current WiFi system was installed at the stadium, which opened in 2008, for its staging of Super Bowl XLVI in 2012 and has not been substantially updated since then. The new system will include more than 1,500 Extreme Networks WiFi access points located beneath various seats in the stadium. The units are designed to provide more robust WiFi coverage while withstanding the wear and tear of stadium events.

The total project cost of the WiFi upgrade is $7m (£5.6m/€6.3m), which will be shared equally by the Colts, Capital Improvement Board and Verizon. The upgrade coincides with the rollout of new 5G technology at the stadium. Earlier this month, Verizon and the NFL announced that Lucas Oil Stadium will be one of 13 NFL stadiums to offer a 5G network for fans.

To aid the rollout of the new WiFi service, the Colts have enlisted a group of Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis students to serve as ‘WiFi Coaches’ at every home game this season. Assisting fans with connection questions and issues, the WiFi Coaches will be supported by Integration Partners, a company that has been instrumental in the WiFi installation.

Image: HKS