Watching a game these days is completely different than it was just a few years ago. Being a fan is not just waving a foam finger and yelling “Defense!” anymore. It’s about checking a rival team’s score, watching highlights of another team’s upset win, texting your friends – all while cheering for your team to pick up the first down. And then there’s social media, where fans hop on in droves to discuss the highs and lows of games as they happen.
These days, the biggest competition to attending live games is a comfy couch. Because of that, teams are trying to outkick the competition by improving the in-game fan experience and tech is high on their list.
So, if you’re one of the millions of fans who love the atmosphere of a live game, but also want to post, tweet or keep up with other scores — have no fear, change is here. Our tech experts came up with these helpful tips to improve your game day experience.
Improved stadium connectivity is on the horizon
Teams like the Minnesota Vikings took the demand for better connectivity to heart. They hosted Super Bowl LII (last season) and more than 67,000 fans witnessed a thrilling Philadelphia Eagles win over the New England Patriots and had Wi-Fi access at U.S. Bank Stadium to chat about it. With improved connectivity, fans got more out of the game than just celebrating a win or moping over a loss.
Digital tickets are in, paper tickets are out
This season your paper tickets will be collector’s items. The NFL is transitioning to digital tickets.
Fans can now use their smartphone to access their tickets through their team’s mobile app (all 32 teams have mobile apps now). The goal is to create a simpler and more convenient way to buy, share and sell your tickets. Also, quicker entry at the gate is always a plus.
Are you trying to get last-minute tickets for the big game? No problem, apps like Gametime or Ticketmaster are great places to check for available tickets. The best part? No printer needed. Just walk up, scan and enter. It’s that easy.
Avoid traffic, park like a pro
One of the biggest gripes about heading to the big game — traffic. Side step that bumper-to-bumper headache with apps like Waze. It alerts you of traffic ahead and provides alternate routes to help you get to the stadium on time.
After you’ve escaped the traffic issue, your next challenge — parking. A parking feature in the Atlanta Falcons’ app shows you available spots and how to reach them. Not sure which spot to pick? There’s a tab titled “Help me find the best lot.” If your favorite team’s app doesn’t have that capability (yet), stick with apps like BestParking or Parker. They help fans find the best place to park, as well as, how much it’ll cost.
Take a timeout: Keep your phone charged
If you haven’t noticed, a lot of these tips revolve around apps on your smartphone, which is great, but that means your battery can’t die. You might forget your lucky hat or your side dish for the tailgate, but, at the very least, you’ll remember to charge your phone.
Don’t be that person who runs their battery down because you couldn’t stop boomeranging the tailgate on Instagram. While there are solutions to that problem (see fun fact below), your friends won’t let you forget it any time soon.
FUN FACT: Many of the newer stadiums have charging stations placed around the concourse. (So, even if you’re that person whose phone dies because you’re on Snapchat… there is hope.)
One good option: Bring along a portable cell phone power pack. They’re small and can easily fit into the clear bags permitted in stadiums. Check out more tips to extend your smartphone’s battery life here.
Don’t miss the game because you’re waiting in line
How many times have you left your seat before halftime to try and beat the line at the concession stand or the restroom? Every game you try it, and every game you’re reminded that you and 50,000 of your closest friends have the same idea and the line is outrageous.
Teams like the NBA’s Miami Heat decided to improve their fan experience from their team’s app. You can buy tickets, find parking and, here’s the big one, keep up with wait times at concessions, bars and restrooms. You can monitor the length of the lines nearest you and make your plan for the quickest pit stop before you’re back cheering for your squad.
New this season: Carolina Panthers fans can skip the line and order food and drinks from their seats at Bank of America Stadium. All you need is the Carolina Panthers app. It is your one-stop-shop. Once you link your payment to the app, you can scroll through the menu and place your order. When it’s ready, you’ll receive a notification and directions to the nearest pick-up point. The best part? No concession stand line for you.
Finally, sit back and enjoy the game
After your smartphone helped you bypass parking, get in the game, and skip lines, don’t miss the Hail Mary play at the end because you’re trying to take the perfect photo. Easily capture the memory on your phone and enjoy the big win.
Interested in learning more about the crossover between sports and tech? If you’re enrolled in your phone carrier’s protection and support program, you may already have access to our personalized tech experts!