Seat-side Computers Next Wave
By Jane Sutton LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (Reuters) - Seat-side computer-
televisions that debuted at the Super Bowl in January will become commonplace
at sports stadiums in the near future, industry executives say.
The "ChoiceSeats" computers demonstrated at the Super Bowl in San Diego
used touch-activated screens that allowed fans to see instant replays, view
plays from different angles, call up player statistics and order team-related
merchandise from their seats during the game.
"It's the next widget," Barry Goldberg, general manager of ChoiceSeats,
which makes the interactive screens, told a Bond Buyer Stadium and Arena
Conference here this week.
Based on the response the company got from the Super Bowl, he predicted all
National Football League arenas would have the devices or similar ones within
Arena managers are looking to interactive technology as a new revenue
source, industry executives said.
Goldberg said his company could guarantee $18 to $19 of revenue per game
per occupied seats with its screens. That revenue is derived mainly from on-
screen advertising, which would have to be carefully contracted to avoid
conflicts with stadium naming rights and sponsorship deals.
Another company, North Communications, is demonstrating its interactive
kiosks at the new MCI Center arena in Washington D.C. Fans can call up team
statistics, send e-mail to players, play computer baseball games and buy game
tickets via credit card at the booths.
Michael Conniff, chairman of Interactive Sports, which provides sports news
and programs for outlets such as North's kiosks, predicts stadium owners will
soon begin to sell interactive rights in the same way they now sell naming
rights and concession rights.
"This is a new line item, a new revenue stream that is sellable," Conniff
Some of the revenues from such an agreement would come from sales
transactions conducted on line. The rest would come from the sale to retailers
of information about sports' fans buying habits, he said.
North's general manager, Adam Parker, cautioned that installing the new
technology requires that stadiums be "wired from A to Z," an advantage the MCI
Center had as part of the telecommunications company's sponsorship.
Dividing the revenues from such technology also could complicate existing
lease agreements between teams and sports authorities, others cautioned.
The Maryland Stadium Authority's lease with the Baltimore Orioles was
drafted 10 years ago, when cable television was a relatively new medium, and
made no provision for advertising signage that now appears on television
screens but not on the actual stadium, the authority's general counsel said.
"It's difficult to anticipate technology changing so quickly," Allison Asti