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Melbourne Cricket Ground to take stadium technology and fan engagement to new levels

Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) today unveiled plans to turn Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) into one of Australia’s most technically-advanced and connected stadiums for fans, members and stakeholders.

In conjunction with partners Cockram, IBM and Cisco, the MCC announced that it will progressively deliver a range of technology infrastructure during 2015. The solution will connect fans and improve the spectator experience, bringing them closer to the action as it happens. It includes:
•    A super-fast, secure, high-density Wi-Fi network in and around the stadium, allowing fans to access real-time and interactive content and to engage with other fans.
•    A state-of-the-art exterior LED lighting system that will enhance the visual appearance of the MCG and allow teams/clubs to personalise and theme the stadium for their fans.
•    A best-of-breed Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) system to deliver digital content to high-definition displays throughout the MCG, displaying information as it happens.
•    Best-in-class facilities for media and broadcasters that will enable faster supply of event content to fans around the world.

The works are the next phase in a AUD$45m investment by the MCC, which has already delivered the two largest, high-definition scoreboards in Australia and the next generation of high-definition television production facilities.

The project will deliver a cutting-edge, high-density Wi-Fi network inside the MCG, allowing fans, members and stakeholders fast access to the internet on any device at the stadium.

The IPTV solution will see installation of 800 high-definition screens. Fans will be able to watch high-definition replays and keep track of the action as it unfolds. Coupled with existing screens, a total of 2800 televisions around the stadium will mean that fans won’t miss a moment.

MCC CEO, Stephen Gough, said:

I am delighted that the MCG will soon be one of the most connected stadiums in the country. This is a significant investment to improve and personalise the MCG customer experience and also operate a more efficient stadium. This will take the fan experience to another level with significant improvements to the MCG’s connectivity. This increased capacity will be great news for the four million people who visit the MCG each year.

One of the central pillars of the MCG technology improvements surrounds the ability to ‘theme’ the stadium in the colours of the home team. Approximately 240 LED lamps will ‘light’ the entire underside of the upper area of Level 4 seating, enabling the exterior of the stadium to be lit up in team/club colours, allowing AFL and cricket tenants to differentiate their home matches, as Mr Gough advised:

Whether you are a Collingwood, Hawthorn or Melbourne Stars fan, you want to feel like you are at a home game. We can now add to that true home team feeling at the MCG.

LED strip lighting will also be installed on the exterior façade to highlight the stadium, including gate entrances. Improved external digital way finding signage will be provided in Yarra Park.

The MCC has assessed a number of the world’s best stadiums – including Dallas Cowboys Stadium, Metlife Stadium, Yankee Stadium, Citifield, AT&T Park, Levi’s Stadium, Emirates Stadium, Staples CenterCamp Nou and Wembley Stadium – to find a solution with the fans’ best interests in mind.

Mr Gough said:

We have witnessed new technologies in action elsewhere and we want to ensure the MCG remains one of the greatest stadiums in the world.

Cockram Construction has been engaged as head contractor of the project.

“We look forward to delivering a critical piece of technology infrastructure for the most iconic sporting stadium in the country,” said Cockram Managing Director, Malcolm Batten.

MCC appointed IBM as head technical contractor to design, evaluate technology options and implement the selected solution to further enable the delivery of fan engagement innovations.

Catherine Caruana-McManus, Director IBM Smarter Cities Australia, said:

The technology solution IBM has designed and is implementing will deliver the foundational backbone for MCC to future-proof Australia’s premier, world-renowned stadium. This work will enable MCC to take advantage of the latest mobile, social and analytics technologies. It will create unrivalled and personalised in-stadium fan engagement and ensure premier game day experiences, giving fans more reasons to visit more often.

IBM’s expertise in delivering world leading innovation and digital solutions for sport and entertainment industries will deliver new commercial possibilities and attract more world-class events to the MCG. 

IBM is excited to partner with MCC on this transformation journey.

Cisco Systems Director, Jonathon Dixon, said:

The MCG is an iconic global sporting venue, and the MCC is transforming the stadium into one of the most technologically advanced in the world with the help of Cisco Sports & Entertainment solutions.

We believe that as the Internet of Everything connects more people, processes, data and things, the fan experience will become more immersive, customised and engaging. We are thrilled to be working with leaders like the MCC and IBM on this project.

For further information, please visit www.mcg.org.au.
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