Will the stadium experience become a thing of the past?

NFL games in a vacuum? League officials worried

There are tremors – no, rumblings – no, violent quakes coming out of the NFL league offices these days.

That’s because league officials are scared. They’re frightened about the future of the game and their ability to fill 70,000 seat stadiums. They should be scared. They should be petrified.

That’s because the technology that has given rise to the most profitable sports league on the planet could, ironically, could be its downfall.

Throw in all the other computing technology with that old standby, television, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster – the downfall of the National Football League’s ability to make billions of dollars per year.

The technology has overtaken the league. Staying at home on the couch with your pizza, beer, chips, barbecues is much more comfortable than spending hundreds to fight traffic, crowds and weather for the game day experience.

That’s what many are saying about the issue of the league’s ability to draw fans to the game.

Watching Aaron Rodgers throw passes over the middle to Jermichael Finley, like the fans in this photograph, may become a thing of the past if the NFL doesn't make changes to its game day experience. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

While a visit to Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, may be the best ticket and experience for football fans, it may all slowly slip away unless the league continues to improve the experience. Yes, attending iconic Lambeau Field is a lifetime experience, but the league is quickly discovering that attracting fans in many other cities is becoming increasingly difficult.

Consider how the Minnesota Vikings will handle the task of trying to attract fans to their decrepit Mall of America Field the next three years while they build their billion dollar behemoth in downtown Minneapolis. No doubt, even when the new stadium is built, it will also be difficult to fill that as well – especially once the novelty wears off.

So, how is the league responding? Well, some of the response has been a direct attempt to implement more of the technology right into the experience. For instance, the league has announced its move to outfit each stadium with free wi-fi to allow fans to not only watch highlights from the game they are attending but to have direct and immediate availability to watch full games and highlights and to keep up with scores from other teams. In addition, there is a move afoot where fans could also tune in to miked up players and coaches on the field.

Another direct response by the league has been to relax the rules surrounding the blackout regulations.

In addition, teams, such as the Packers, are adding more seats and state-of-the-art sound and video systems to their stadium experience to draw fans. While that is a luxury for a profitable team like the Packers, making such improvements in an NFL city such as Jacksonville is problematic at this point, especially when they are one of the several teams eyeing a move to Los Angeles.

It’s an issue that may come to a head for the league sooner than later. If Roger Goodell and company want to increase their $10 billion per year venture they are going to have to adapt.

Just exactly how those adaptations will look is anyone’s guess at this point.

But they need to do something soon or the fan’s experience won’t be at a stadium – it will be sitting at home on the couch with their brats, hamburgers, chips and beer.

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys Green Bay Packers Jacksonville Jaguars Lambeau Field Los Angeles National Football League Roger Goodell San Diego Chargers

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