Tech-Savvy Brooklyn's Barclays Center? Yep, There's An App For That

Jan 1, 2014
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The Barclays Center is home to the Brooklyn's pro-basketball team, the Nets. It's also home to some of the most advanced technology ever to come to a stadium or arena. As reporter Dan Tucker found, it even has its own app.


DAN TUCKER, BYLINE: I'm sitting in the Barclays Center watching a Brooklyn Nets game with Chip Foley, the arena's vice president of Technology. He's a big fan of the team.

CHIP FOLEY: He goes back. They're going. Here he goes outside to hit the three, and brick.

TUCKER: Foley is not narrating the game. He's actually narrating a replay that we're watching on my iPhone, just a few seconds after we watched that same play on the court.

FOLEY: Oh, yeah. If he hit it, it would have been exciting. Boom goes the dynamite.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Shaun Livingston.

TUCKER: Yeah. Actually, when I was playing with it, I missed something, I heard the shot clock go off and then I hit the replay. It seemed to work pretty well.

FOLEY: No, no, it's great.


TUCKER: You need to be inside the Barclays Center and connected to the arena's wireless network for this technology to work. In addition to replays, you can also watch live game feeds from multiple camera angles. The sideline cam, for instance, gives you the feeling of standing with the coaches and players down on the court.

FOLEY: I mean, you got to think of it not only for the courtside fans, but the fans in the upper concourse, in the upper pavilion area. They get a bird's eye view from up top, but then they get a first-person perspective from their device.


TUCKER: This system works so well thanks to the arena's high-density Wi-Fi. Instead of one big network that would slow down as more fans log on, there are 300 access points spread throughout the arena. There's no password, no terms of service and no fee. And you can log-on with any device you want. It's almost too easy.

OK. Now, I've just been playing with this app so I have no idea what's been happening on the court.

Oops, maybe I should have been paying more attention to the game instead of looking at my phone.

So I just hit replay here at the game. OK, it looks like the Nets - oh, it's a little blurry. Oh, but here it is - Number 14 on the Nets, Livingston. Oh, and there's a dunk. OK, I guess I missed that.

The feature has more practical applications if you're moving around the arena. Say you're in line for the bathroom or a beer and you miss a three-pointer. Just hit replay. Or maybe you were chatting with a friend and you missed a big block - hit replay again.

The live feeds are a different animal. There's a three-second delay, and it can be a little disorienting when what's on the court and what's on your phone aren't synced up.

FOLEY: Let's go back to the game feed. So this camera's set up in Section 124. We're tapped into those cameras right now and you'll be able to log-in and see what that camera's seeing. So this is really the television view.

TUCKER: So why buy an expensive ticket just to get the same view you see on TV? Paul Kapustka, the editor-in-chief of the blog Mobile Sports Report, thinks he has the answer. He says as mobile devices and stadium Wi-Fi advance, these replays and feeds will become more and more compelling.

PAUL KAPUSTKA: Being able to see that when you're still in the stadium atmosphere and everybody cheering is really, I think, going to increase the value and the fun of being at the stadium.


TUCKER: Instead of distracting you from the game, apps like the one at Barclays could actually enhance what you're experiencing. So far, very few venues have taken steps in that direction. Not many stadiums have their own apps. And according to one survey, only a third have high-speed Wi-Fi. But experts like Kapustka say the wired stadium is here to stay. After all, fans won't be leaving their Smartphones at home any time soon.

For NPR News, I'm Dan Tucker in New York.

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