Denver Broncos President Joe Ellis is aware that the in-home NFL game experience is constantly improving. So he and the Broncos are taking steps to improve the in-stadium experience this offseason as well.
Think: $30 million in steps.
"We’re faced with the comfortable environment of the home screen, the television set, the high-definition 52-plus inch screen, the refrigerator five feet away, the comfortable couch, the ability to access multiple games, the Red Zone Channel," Ellis said.
"I know we have to do everything we can to make the in-stadium experience match that," said Ellis. "We’re taking some steps in the stadium this year with over $30 million of improvements."
The steps Ellis and the Broncos are taking are a combination of massive technology improvements and subtle aesthetic tweaks. Let's break them down:
Improvements to Sports Authority Field At Mile High
- Three new HD Video Boards. The Northeast and Northwest corners will get upgrades, while the big South scoreboard is being replaced (pictured). "That’s going to be a powerful presence in the building."
- TV's everywhere. Thousands of LED boards and HDTV's will be installed, giving fans and press box attendees the information they want and need, including: "concessions information, travel information as they’re leaving the stadium, weather conditions, statistics. It’s a pretty sophisticated system and all of that technology comes with a spaceship-like control room." Beam me up, Scotty.
- Knowledge is power. These Broncos scoreboards will give fans more information on the state of the NFL around them, including out-of-town scores, highlights, and fantasy football figures.
- Improved audio. "We get multiple complaints and calls about, 'I couldn't hear him this week and he was too loud last week,' about the PA announcer or the referee. We’re trying to fix that with a brand-new system."
- New concourse. "The 100 Level is kind of a warehouse-looking thing with pipes and other things hanging from the ceiling that aren't too attractive. We’re going to dress that up and make it lighter and brighter and make the entryway into the building more exciting with various elements."
- Better suites. For the wine and cheese crowd, no more obstructions in front of them and clearer windows. Standing and screaming still encouraged.
- New Light Rail Station. "We have one right now that is on the east side of the Platte River, and now we have one that is going to be down by lots M and N, which is down on the south end. That should service up to 7,000 more people. That lightens the load on traffic and parking... that’s an easy walk straight across the South alleyway right up to the stadium."
One improvement not included in the suite of changes that Mr. Ellis hopes to achieve in the near-future is that of mobile access for in-game viewers. He and the Broncos know that fans want to be able to take and share pictures of their time at Sports Authority Field at Mile High with friends, family members, and Facebook.
"Right now, we aren’t capable of doing that for 75,000 fans at one time. We're just not," Ellis explained. "But, someday, we have to get there. Somehow, some way. That’s an investment we’ll have to make."
(We at MHR agree -- wouldn't it be awesome to join our Game Threads via your mobile device within the stadium?)
These improvements are being made not only to improve the experience for the stadium crowd. The home crowd needs these upgrades as well. One thing's for certain -- the in-home experience feeds off the in-game experience.
"If you watch a game on television and there are 30,000 fans in a 75,000-seat stadium, it is not that attractive. It doesn’t generate the same TV experience for you.... I think the best games on television—the TV producers and the networks are able to capture that emotion and passion that is in the stadiums."
"It is incumbent upon us to constantly be doing things to make the experience better."