Are You Ready for New Game-Day Wrinkles?
Randy York’s N-Sider
Nebraska Athletics has a new sound system that’s as good as any in the country. We have new WiFi connectivity that can serve the explosive growth of smartphones and other wireless devices. We even have fully functional IPTV that will broadcast digital signals to all TVs and suites in the stadium, replete with surround sound features.
We also have updated the official Nebraska Huskers App to meet the demand for feature-rich content and entertainment. Every fan who steps inside the stadium with a working smartphone will be equipped to engage interactively with friends and family. That means the most intriguing shared Husker moments can, in fact, end up on the big screen, not to mention on Nebraska’s own Facebook page and Twitter account stretching across the country and around the world.
Welcome to Memorial Stadium, which replaced a 20-year-old sound system with one that will provide greater clarity and uniformity of sound for more than 90,000 fans, who also will be the benefactors of a new WiFi FanXP structure that includes 800 new antennas under the East and West Stadium balconies and in the handrails of the North and South Stadium. Superior sound, WiFi connectivity and IPTV functionality are triangular game-changers for all Husker fans who walk through the hallowed gates that have welcomed 333 consecutive home sellout crowds dating back to 1962.
Marc Boehm: Huskers Will Slow Roll the Technology
With that background, we interrupt this N-Sider to help Husker fans understand Nebraska’s strategy to introduce these multi-million-dollar capabilities. “We’ve put a lot of time and energy into all of these important improvements, but you don’t just walk in the stadium, push a button and everything works automatically,” Nebraska Executive Athletic Director Marc Boehm said. “With state-of-the-art technology, you learn to walk before you begin to run. That’s why, at least for these first two non-conference games, we’re going to slow-roll the technology we have and concentrate more on the new wrinkles we’ve come up with to enhance the game-day experience.”
New wrinkles? I’d tell you what they are, but 1) I have very limited knowledge; and 2) the element of surprise is what makes each and every game day so very, very special. So here’s my first N-Sider tip. Whatever super-duper awesome wrinkle our fan experience team unveils for the season-opener against Florida Atlantic, know this: There will be a different surprise package the next week for McNeese State and a different one the following home game against Miami and on and on and on.
Cornhusker Marching Band Revamps Pre-Game Show
One staple you can count on that will be woven into each game-day going forward is the Cornhusker Marching Band, which revamped its pre-game show with new formations and song lineups. I’ve been told the Tunnel Walk will keep its traditional roots with some live elements added to one of the grandest entrances in all of college football. UNL’s student section will be treated to a live pre-game event that will feature a D.J. mixing music with on-field events to win prizes – an event that will help set the game-day spirit.
Nebraska Athletics is launching a program to incentivize student attendance and fan engagement not only in football, but in all other varsity sports. The program is designed to help participants earn reward points that can be redeemed at the game-day venue. With the Iron N student organization, it only makes sense to throw those spirit-minded students some bones in The Bone Yard. Remember how UNL students earned national publicity last year when they honored a UCLA wide receiver who died in a car accident the week before the Bruins played in Lincoln? Classy sportsmanship with a heart is every bit as important as game-day thunder that can provide a decided home-field advantage.
HuskerVision Still the Catalyst for Tunnel Walk
Let me set the record straight. The Tunnel Walk will keep its historic roots. The new elements will be noticeable but will not trump a tradition that has withstood the test of time. Don’t worry. HuskerVision will still be the catalyst. Be happy. The Cheer Squad will still be involved. The good news is the features and focus will play more into what all fans like to see and hear – the personalities of the players they’re watching. HuskerVision Assistant Athletic Director Shot Kleen, above with Nebraska Director of Athletics Shawn Eichorst, said Nebraska has been researching a new sound system for five years and decided to purchase a single-point cluster system that fits Memorial Stadium's configuration and optimizes fidelity. When more than 90,000 fans hear the system for the first time Saturday, they will be surprised, if not amazed at the difference in quality.
With the explosion of new sound, connectivity and video, Nebraska will work relentlessly to bundle that capability and bring it straight to your stadium seat. Whether you’re sitting in Memorial Stadium's top row of the North end or in Larry the Cable Guy’s suite in the renovated East Stadium, you will have comparable access to what HuskerVision and Nebraska’s social media team will be delivering. The new fan experience is a season-long program that seeks to optimize the pre-game, the halftime and the post-game.
“We’ve sold out the stadium since 1962 and we’re keeping the same hallowed traditions, but we’re adding some awesome new fan experiences,” said Ethan Rowley, director of Nebraska Fan Experience. “We want to entertain the fans who keep showing their loyalty year after year. The goal is to raise the bar and let our fans know how much we appreciate their support. We have a great game-day, but we want to make it greater.”
Husker Social Media Leader: System Connects Fans
Kelly Mosier, director of digital communications for Nebraska Athletics, said the project is a long-term one. “This system is really for our fans to stay connected,” he said. “We want to get fans in the stadium and connected to the WiFi before we begin rolling out other advanced features.” Make no mistake. Nebraska’s WiFi FanXP bonanza will give fans better access to Internet applications regardless of their carrier or location. The new system extends the wireless capability into nearby parking lots and campus garages. To help accomplish its goal to provide all fans equal access, Nebraska has installed the largest collegiate-only stadium system available.
Fans Can Catch the Bo Postgame on Their Phones
Integration is a systematic process. The transitional goal is to show live action inside the stadium on the screens of cell phones and to show live press conferences so fans can watch Bo Pelini analyze the game as they walk to their cars or a private gathering. Live stats, live maps, live faces and live places…Nebraska has equipped itself to deliver what fans want in addition to the live action. Once the kinks can be worked out of the new wrinkles, who knows? Maybe all of this new technology can inspire the Huskers to new heights this season. Stay tuned.
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Voices from Husker Nation
Just wanted to thank you for very informative updates regarding Nebraska football. Living in New York, it’s difficult to acquire the desired information about the football program. My wife and I have attended a game in Lincoln for the past three years, and this year we will be attending the game at Northwestern. Please keep up the good work and GO BIG RED! Tom Kinsella, Hicksville, New York
This app rocks. Can’t wait for Game-Day. Love it. Go Big Red! Jason Page, Nebraska Alum, Class of ’96, Lee’s Summit, Missouri
Thanks to whoever for not eliminating the Tunnel Walk music. Great that the sound system has been updated. I will be in my seat (never a miss since 1989) on Saturday, watching the game, not on my phone or any other device, enjoying the new sound and the people around me. Others should try this. It truly is the "game experience." Rebecca Plambeck, Hastings, Nebraska