Cisco plans networked screens at Yankee Stadium

The new Yankee Stadium in New York will have networked high-definition screens from Cisco that can show live game play and later switch to giving exit directions and traffic information.

The screens will be the first installation of a product Cisco announced on Tuesday in Manhattan, called Cisco StadiumVision. They also are the most visible element of a larger plan to use networking to enhance the audience experience at the stadium, which will open in April 2009. Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers and Yankees Co-Chairperson Hal Steinbrenner unveiled the plans at a press conference at Cisco's New York offices.

StadiumVision, designed specifically for stadiums and other venues, takes advantage of a technology called digital signage. The concept takes advantage of flat-screen displays and wired or wireless networks to provide signs that can change depending on time, situation and specific location.

At Yankee Stadium, they will show live games in progress throughout the stadium, including in the Great Hall, the Yankees Museum, restaurants and bars and concession stands. After games, the screens will be able to switch to giving useful information keyed to each location, and in case of emergencies the displays will give evacuation directions, according to a Cisco press release. During non-game events at the stadium, the screens can show other content tailored to the occasion.

Both small and large enterprises have shown interest in digital signage, IDC analyst Tom Mainelli said earlier this year. A requirement they sometimes overlook is the need for plenty of fresh content to keep visitors from getting bored, according to Mainelli. The Yankees are likely to struggle less than most companies with this issue.

Also coming at the new stadium will be IP phones in luxury suites that fans can use to order concessions and merchandise for delivery to the suite.

But what may be the most significant high-tech feature of the park, and one Cisco has been talking about since it announced a vision for a stadium bearing its own name in 2006, won't be available on Day One at the new stadium. The company envisions letting the ordinary fans outside the luxury boxes order concessions wirelessly using their mobile devices. This wireless system would also let them view instant replays and chat with friends inside and outside the stadium, Cisco said Tuesday. But the new Yankee Stadium won't come with these features; it will only be built to support them in the future.

Plans for Cisco's own stadium, Cisco Field, which would house the Oakland A's in Fremont, Calif., a few miles from Cisco's headquarters, are still pending.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.