The upgrading continues.
The UOP stadium in Glendale is having its video boards upgraded at a cost of $10.8 million, with the Arizona Cardinals fronting that cost.
According to azcentral.com, over the next seven years, the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority (AZSTA), the stadium's owner and operator, will repay 75 percent of that, or about $8.1 million. The Red Birds are covering the entire $8 million cost of upgrading the wireless system. The stadium turns 8 years old this summer, which is a long time in stadium years.
"There are a lot of aspects of the stadium that will need some attention," said Tom Sadler, the president and CEO of the AZSTA via azcentral.com. "We need to continue to be on the leading edge of creating a world-class experience for our fans. You look around the country, there is an expectation of having a certain level of technology in your stadium that creates that experience."
Work crews currently are removing the old video boards, and the new ones will be up by football season. The high-definition LED board in the south end zone will be 54 feet high and 164 feet wide. Its resolution is 75 percent higher than the old one. The board in the north end zone will be 27 feet high and 97 feet wide. The AZSTA will pay for its 75 percent share out of its operations budget, Sadler said.
The stadium, which cost $455 million to build, was partly financed by taxes on rental cars and hotel rooms. The AZSTA's ability to pay for the improvements is an indication the economy has improved, Sadler said.
"We have just now seen a little light at the end of the tunnel as far as our operations budget is concerned," Sadler said. "All of our other obligations prior to that would have to be met."
The stadium upgrades certainly reflect a more demanding public that has grown accustomed to higher-resolution video boards and faster wireless, among other technological advances.
"People have an expectation, and their expectations have changed when they go to any event," said Mark Dalton, Cardinals vice president for media relations. "My kids, when we go to a restaurant, the first thing they ask is 'What's the Wi-Fi password?' "Your experience of a game is not just going to a game, but it's interacting on your smartphone, your tablet. This will give us a way to allow them to do it and also engage them in a variety of ways, many of which we're still exploring."
Stadiums that lag behind in making those upgrades won't be as competitive when it comes to bidding for Super Bowls, Final Fours, college championship games and other big events, Sadler said. "They do set a minimum standard for that, and we're able to get over that because we've made these changes," Sadler said.
Welcome to the new world in 2014.
Super Bowl XLIX will be held on Feb. 1, 2015. The Cardinals would love to be playing a home game then.
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