It’s fitting, one might say, that the San Francisco Giants provide home fans at AT&T Park the most sophisticated digital amenities in all of professional sports. After all, San Francisco is the nominal home of Silcon Valley (with apologies to San Jose) and the headquarters of many of the cutting-edge internet and social media companies in the world today.
Free Wi-Fi has been a staple of the game experience at AT&T (formerly Pac Bell) Park for years, with the Giants having been one of the first professional sports teams to offer the service to fans and working journalists alike.
Things really began to change at the ballpark in the past two years, however, after the introduction of Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch, Bill Schlough, the team’s CIO, said in an interview with technology journalists this week.
Since the iPhone’s introduction around the same time the Giants hosted 2007’s All Star Game, usage of the park’s Wi-Fi network has gone up 537 percent. Users of the Wi-Fi network at the park are now able to use an innovative and exclusive system called the Giants Digital Dugout, which offers fans two unique benefits.
The first is a “food finder,” which can direct fans to the closest concession location for the exact kind of food or beverage they want, and the second is a collection of video replay highlights that includes, within three minutes after it happens, any controversial call by an umpire. Replays of such calls are banned from being shown on the ballpark’s in-house video systems, so that feature in itself could be worth bringing your iPhone to the game – even if it’s not ever likely to get the upms to reverse a bad call.