University presidents and conferences everywhere are exploring ways to make the fan experience better. Just a few weeks ago, Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez noted that they were exploring the option of fans being able to place concession stand orders from their seats and entering an express line to pick it up. Now the SEC is looking at adding WiFi to each of their 14 stadiums as a part of an effort to increase the fan experience.
With a price tag of about $2 million per stadium, Tennessee athletic director Dave Brandon believes strongly that it's a change that needs to be made.
"Our next generation of fans is used to staying connected," Brandon told CBS Sports. "They should be able to communicate in real time with somebody on the other side of the stadium. It's quite an investment but we have to make it."
Nothing is more annoying to the tech savvy fan than getting to your seat, surrounded by 70,000+ other fans and having the cell phone towers all clogged up so that you can't share your experience at the game with all your friends and followers. The SEC is aiming to fix that, and numerous other new stadiums that are going up around the country have WiFi or a better mobile network in their plans as well.
The SEC formed the Working Group on Fan Experience committee on the heels of a year when nine of the 14 SEC schools saw attendance drop. Even with the lower numbers, the SEC still managed to lead the nation in attendance for the 15th straight year.
The committee set out to find recommendations to improve the fan experience and some some of the issues that were identified include the continued use of slow motion replay, finding ways to increase student attendance, and increasing the quality of games. We found it interesting that the Alabama student newspaper reported that Alabama's student section used less than 70% of their allotted tickets last season. So if the two time defending national champs are having trouble filling their student section, you can bet every other stadium in the country and SEC is having the same issue.
Expect the SEC to take recommendations from the committee and put them in place faster and better than every other conference, because well, that's just how they do things.