“You play to win the game.” I often find myself thinking about how this infamous quote from former New York Jets coach Herm Edwards applies to the world of business. In today’s marketplace, there aren’t any awards for participation. Companies that don’t aim to win rarely remain in business for very long.

That being said, the most successful businesses are often the ones that aren’t content to simply play by the rules, in fact at Cisco we call that “performing and transforming” as a partner. Take the entertainment venue industry, for example. Cisco partner AmpThink isn’t just playing the game, it’s redefining it—and it’s winning.

“We don’t just sell a network; we sell a stadium.”

—Bill Anderson, President, AmpThink

AmpThink has worked with Cisco for more than 10 years, deploying and managing tech infrastructure at over 80 stadiums, arenas, and other public venues. One of AmpThink’s latest projects was SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because SoFi Stadium was the venue that hosted the 2022 Super Bowl.

AmpThink’s approach is unique within the sector. It is a Master Technology Integrator, handling design, deployment, services, customer support and even manufacturing, all with a holistic goal – solving customer problems and unlocking new buying centers. It’s this philosophy that led to the revolutionary converged network strategy that powered the Super Bowl and is fast becoming the industry standard.

AmpThink’s machining area where it manufactures its solutions

Game-changing integration

The SoFi Stadium project represents the culmination of a decade of experience and effort pushing for a more efficient venue tech paradigm. Whereas the traditional stadium model sees each solution delivered and managed by a separate partner running on a separate network, AmpThink brought all those disconnected systems together onto a single converged tech stack. Now, all the systems that a successful entertainment venue requires—power, lighting, audio, security, collaboration, TV broadcast, WiFi, irrigation, (the list goes on)—are all connected on the same intelligent network, built with Cisco WiFi 6, IPTV, IP telephones, Security Solutions, and IP Fabric for Media.

The value of this approach isn’t just about the network, but what it supports. AmpThink acts as an enabler, working alongside all project stakeholders to ensure everything is fully integrated. This empowers sponsors, advertisers and vendors to effortlessly tap into the venue’s technology. Not only does this prevent a whole host of duplicated costs and labor, it eliminates shadow IT issues that have plagued the industry for years.

“Compared to traditional stadium infrastructure, the solution we put in place is materially more efficient and less expensive. On the broadcasting side alone, we’ve saved the customer millions of dollars.”

—Bill Anderson, President, AmpThink

For consumers and fans, it’s all about connectivity. Today, “the game” isn’t just about the match, it’s a shared human experience that spans both the venue and the full breadth of content experiences inclusive of in venue, social, streaming, IPTV and over-the-top broadcast.  Visitors expect to be able to seamlessly share pictures, videos and livestreams of the event as it happens—increasing the demands of the network each year, with every event—and AmpThink’s converged network built on Cisco’s connectivity portfolio delivers. Take a look at some key metrics from the Super Bowl and what the converged network was able to support.

Ten years of partnership

AmpThink has looked at the needs of venue operators and is filling a massive hole in the market, providing solutions, customer experience, and services that set it apart from the competition. At Cisco, we’re proud to be a part of that differentiation.

Our involvement is twofold. Firstly, we provide the products, with the SoFi Stadium deployment touching the full scope of the Cisco connectivity portfolio. Secondly, we dedicate engineering expertise to help AmpThink bring bespoke solutions to the table that solve specific customer problems. With Cisco’s support, Bill Anderson and his expert team are able to pitch to the biggest players in the sector. SoFi Stadium is a prime example, and it just goes to show the kind of value a close partnership can create.

The Cisco data center within SoFi Stadium that powers the converged network

“SoFi Stadium is our capstone project. It’s where we proved Cisco’s commitment, we proved the depth of the product portfolio, and we proved our vision. It’s hard for the industry to ignore what we’re doing when we’re powering a 300-acre campus. Without Cisco’s portfolio and engineering talent, we couldn’t have gotten there.”

—Bill Anderson, President, AmpThink

From resistance to a new industry standard

On paper, the advantages of the converged network make it seem like a no-brainer, but AmpThink has faced considerable resistance from an entrenched industry. What AmpThink is doing is disruptive, and not just in a Silicon Valley buzzword kind of way, it’s truly transformational.  Convergence is a colossal shift that impacts a huge number of people.

The disparate, siloed approach is how stadiums have always done things in the past, and venue constructors and operators believed it was the most reliable strategy. AmpThink first proved them wrong at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.

At Dickies Arena, AmpThink participated in and won five separate RFPs, then offered to deliver all five solutions together at a lower price through a converged network. Dickies Arena proved that AmpThink’s formula works, paving the way for converged networks at Allegiant Stadium and SoFi Stadium. Now, the success of both venues makes it clear that a holistic tech strategy is simply the best option, and it is set to become the new industry standard.

Through its experience at Dickies Arena, Allegiant Stadium, and SoFi Stadium, AmpThink has developed a tried and tested blueprint for converged network implementation, which other venues would be crazy not to take advantage of. The benefits are so immense that even existing stadiums should be thinking about modernizing. It’s a big investment, but it’s worth it.

The inside of SoFi Stadium – the stadium of the future

“The earlier that venues start thinking about transformation, the easier it will be for them. Change doesn’t have to happen all at once, but it’s essential to establish a holistic, long-term upgrade plan to prioritize capital. Plan properly, buy it once, buy it right.”

—Bill Anderson, President, AmpThink

Venues that are willing to make that investment and modernize their infrastructure are not only sure to please fans, they’re also sure to win the long-game maintaining a successful sports and entertainment business. The same applies to our partner community and Ampthink is a prime example!

Visit Cisco’s Partner Programs to learn more about getting connected into Cisco’s partner programs.

To learn more about how Cisco and partners like AmpThink are paving the way in Sports, Media, and Entertainment, join us at NAB.

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Bryan Bedford

Head of IoT (Verticals) Partner GTM & OT Supplier Route to Market

Global Partner Organization