Earlier this decade, sports stadiums and professional sports leagues began embracing digital transformation to make stadiums the best place to watch the game again as fewer fans were attending games in person and opting to watch from the comfort of their own homes.

Attendance at professional sporting events was declining because many fans were fed up both at the high costs and because of various inconveniences, such as the inability to use their mobile devices while attending games. They wanted to be able to upload images to social media and stream video and watch instant replays.

The NFL was the first to realize the need, and tech giants such as Verizon became part of the solution as they began working with the stadiums and the individual teams to help devise ways to draw fans back to the stadiums.

See: How the NFL and its stadiums became leaders in Wi-Fi, monetizing apps, and customer experience (TechRepublic free PDF)

And now, to coincide with the kickoff of the 2019-2020 NFL season, Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband service will be available at 13 NFL stadiums. Service will be concentrated in parts of the seating areas but could eventually be available in other locations in and around the stadium as well. When customers with 5G enabled smartphones move outside Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband coverage area, the 5G-enabled devices will transition the signal to Verizon’s 4G network.

“Today’s announcement is a key moment in our partnership with the NFL. We’re proud to work with such an iconic organization to bring Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband service to fans across the country. Verizon 5G is fundamentally changing the way we live, work and play, and we expect the impact on the sports entertainment industry to be massive – it promises to revolutionize the entire game-day experience for fans,” said Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon, in a press release.

The ability to use 5G is important, because during major sporting events such as the Super Bowl, data usage is astronomical. During Super Bowl 53 this year, there were 24.05 terabytes of data transferred over the Wi-Fi network inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, with 9.99 TB used pre-game, 11.11 TB during the game, and 2.95 TB post-game, according to Extreme Networks.

Super Bowl 54 in 2020 will be at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL, one of the stadiums where Verizon is offering 5G Ultra Wideband service.

The 13 stadiums with Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband service are as follows:

Bank of America Stadium (Carolina Panthers)
Empower Field at Mile High (Denver Broncos)
CenturyLink Field (Seattle Seahawks)
Ford Field (Detroit Lions)
Gillette Stadium (New England Patriots)
Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Dolphins)
Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis Colts)
MetLife Stadium (New York Giants and New York Jets)
M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore Ravens)
NRG Stadium (Houston Texans)
Soldier Field (Chicago Bears)
U.S. Bank Stadium (Minnesota Vikings)

“As we celebrate the NFL’s 100th season we look forward to the day when Verizon will have their 5G Ultra Wideband service in the stadiums for all 32 NFL clubs. Having this cutting-edge technology in our stadiums will greatly enhance the game-day experience and bring a multitude of benefits to our fans and clubs in a number of different ways,” said Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, in a press release.

Image: CBS