Cisco Blogs

Is the new Wembley in Kansas?

June 9, 2011 - 17 Comments

Robb Heinemann, the CEO of Sporting Club in Kansas City certainly thinks so.  He joined Cisco’s David Holland this week to launch the brand new LIVESTRONG Sporting Park stadium on Tuesday ahead of Sporting Club’s first home game of the season tonight (Thur June 9 at 7pm PT, 9pm CT, 10pm ET on ESPN2).

Cisco’s Sports and Entertainment Solutions Group has been working to build technology into the very fabric of the stadium over the course of the construction and tonight’s game promises to give fans a wholly new experience.   The stadium is equipped with Cisco’s new Connected Stadium Wi-Fi solution which brings high-speed wireless capabilities to fans and staff throughout the ground. The idea is to ‘offload’ data traffic from congested cell phone networks to allow fans to watch video replays right from their seats while keeping the cell phone network freed up for making calls and texting.

Throughout the venue, Cisco’s Stadium Vision solution will also provide live and recorded video on over 300 HD digital signs deployed throughout the club’s restaurants, bars, suites and open areas.  For the first time, fans in the executive suites will also be able to control the angle of the shot and change what content they view on the screen using an iPad application. Cisco has opened up the API to its Stadium Vision solution working in collaboration with Sporting Club to enable this first of a kind innovation in the MLS.

Sporting Club is also the first MLS venue to deploy Cisco’s Unified Computing and Nexus 7000 platforms to deliver virtualized network services.  Now the network is truly the platform for this next-generation experience in Kansas and Sporting Club will also be using the Stadium Vision platform and API to support their social networking solutions for members of the club.  Incidentally, Sporting Club is also offering club members free tickets to away games for this season.

You can watch a replay of the press conference below, and here are a couple of the media reports on the Stadium opening in the Kansas City StarSports Business Journal, in Bloomberg BusinessWeek and on ESPN:

The stadium will also be hosting national games as early as next week with the USA national team taking on Guadaloupe and Panama playing Canada in the CONCANAF Gold Cup on Thur June 14th (USA is currently heading up Group C as of June 9th).  And for Bay Area soccer fans, the San Jose Earthquakes travel out to Kansas next Friday, June 17.

What do you think – now that the US has an iconic stadium in Kansas designed specifically for soccer, could this be another step in helping the sport break through in popularity in the US?

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  1. Amazing!!!It’s a beautiful stadium really.

  2. I hope this is going to be a soccer only stadium like Old Trafford (Manchester)

  3. “provide live and recorded video on over 300 HD digital signs deployed throughout the club’s restaurants, bars, suites and open areas.” -> Now that’s proper entertaining.

    But although the stadium seems to be amazing, it’s kind of a push to call it the “new Wembley”.

    I really think that the popularity of soccer can only reach a medium level in the USA. It’s tough to compete against the NBA, NHL, NFL, baseball and tennis…

  4. Being right next to the pitch is a great bonus for viewing the game. Sadly after hooliganism in the UK that has been hard to replicate in some venues, but hopefully a more sensible approach to drinking in the US lends itself more to this kind of design.

  5. WOW! I am really impressed! GO GO GO Kansas!!!

  6. @scott – I agree with your comment about old trafford and how much better a stadium is without a running track. it just means the fans are further away from the pitch and doesn’t have the same feel as stadiums just built for football/soccer!

  7. Awesome stadium.
    I would like the same here in my country.
    It’s really nice..

  8. Hi Marc
    I agree that it probably will take off especially with great stadiums coming. I hope this is going to be a soccer only stadium like Old Trafford (Manchester). The atmosphere is so much better when there’s no running track.

  9. Wow! That’s an amazing stadium.

  10. One of the amazing article I read about sports. Thanks for the share buddy.. I hope they create something like this in my country also..

  11. @Marc – I think it may take a while to get the bar tender to not give you the shrug. I know here in Salt Lake though things are definitely changing. I’m a die hard Football fan but with how well Real Salt Lake has been doing it’s hard not to pay more attention.

    I was recently in Seattle and my eyes started catching the Seattle Sounders posters everywhere because I recognized some of the shields.

  12. Here’s a quick view of the US national team’s performance for Thur next week when they will play against Guadaloupe at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on 14th in the Concanaf Cup (they beat Canada 2:0 this week). The US play Panama on Saturday night:

    And I hadn’t realised that there was actually a goal last night in Kansas City. Scored by a cow though:

  13. Scott – I think the generation of US kids that are growing up playing soccer (football to you and me) will drive greater interest in the game. I know it’s hard to move folks over from traditional sports – i tried to get the barman to change one of the screens over to ESPN2 last night and met with short shrift, but things will definitely evolve. One major factor is being able to create this kind of next-generation experience in the stadium that brings more of the added excitement to the game that you get from watching in a quality venue, rather than a run-down general purpose venue.

    Organisations such as Sporting Club have also grasped that social networking is at the heart of the experience for hooking this future generation in. Being able to share video and tweet effectively from your seat at the game extends the experience out virally – and clearly having a reliable and pervasive wireless network to support that is critical.

  14. I live in Europe so I love soccer but I think a big part of why it isn’t taking of in the US is because a lot of people say soccer isn’t an American sport. Only kids play it and ALL of them will later not watch soccer but basketball, football, and baseball.

    Makes no sense but I am sure soccer will eventually catch on.

    The other argument is that soccer is boring. Well i agree it can be, but if I watch my favorite team, no matter how bad the game is it is extremely exciting.

    To the point of the post: I hope it will be the next Wembley because of all the reasons I mentioned before.

  15. Wow…interesting….but like more of a European soccer venue.

  16. why is american soccer growing fast?
    it could even surpass mexican soccer..

    one of the reasons is that players always visit to get motivated!
    check it out!

  17. They squeezed in 19,925 fans tonight. 1000 odd more than capacity. Unfortunately SKC have just had their veteran keeper Jimmy Nielsen sent off for handling outside the box though. 0-0 currently.