Miami Dolphins, IBM Team Up for Stadium of the Future

  • February 28, 2012
  • Bradley Taylor

From Brad: Me being a huge Dolphins fan and spending oodles of time at the stadium, this is a double treat. Now we just need a QB.

Text messages that tell fans when their usual parking lot is full and where to park instead. Automated alerts that avoid dangerous overcrowding by directing masses of spectators to specific gates to enter and exit. Inclement weather warnings that prepare people in the stands for a storm before it hits.

man sits at miami dolphins football game
Sun Life Stadium

All that and more will soon become real at south Florida’s Sun Life Stadium, thanks to a high-tech partnership the Miami Dolphins and IBM announced Tuesday. The agreement incorporates IBM’s cutting-edge analytics technology into the Dolphins’ home stadium, which also hosts many concerts and other events. It will make Sun Life Stadium the most advanced venue of its kind in North America, say IBM and Dolphins officials.

With 75,00 seats, 24,000 parking spots, 1.5 million square feet of space and the world’s largest point-of-sale vending system under one roof, Sun Life Stadium functions almost as its own little city when the Dolphins play or a famous performer comes to town. That’s why the Dolphins are adopting technology originally intended for IBM’s “Smarter Cities” initiative. Aspects of that program have already been implemented by officials in Berlin, Malta and London.


The technology monitors systems of different inputs and outputs — in the Dolphins’ case, for example, traffic patterns on freeways, crowd flow through turnstiles, social media chatter, and the like — then correlates it all in one place to make the data relevant for officials and administrators. At Sun Life Stadium, the information will all be run through IBM’s cloud-based Intelligent Operations Center.

Mike Gerentine, IBM’s vice president of global business partners and midmarket, said you can “think of it as a central command center” for analyzing event-day information and figuring out how to leverage that to enhance fan experience.

Dolphins CTO Tery Howard said that, as in-home entertainment becomes more and more advanced, live event venues have no choice but to keep up.

“When you look at who we’re competing with here for sporting events, really it’s the comfort of home with an HDTV,” Howard told Mashable. “We want to enable our management to be proactive as opposed to reactive to these data points.”

The initial phases of the IBM partnership will be rolled out on Wednesday, when Sun Life Stadium hosts an international soccer friendly between Mexico and Colombia. Officials will be able to monitor which point-of-sale tills sell alcohol after the cutoff time, as well as track parking capacity and entry numbers.

In the coming several months and couple years, the team will analyze how best to implement the next phase of the stadium’s high tech upgrade–those personalized alerts. Howard believes the continued innovation will be key to maintaining Sun Life Stadium’s reputation as a top-flight venue capable of hosting Super Bowls and the world’s biggest musical acts.

“These types of technological capabilities and intelligence allow us to differentiate ourselves not just to our fans, but also to those who wan to partner with us to host great events,” Howard said.

story by Mashable

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