Can a Football Stadium Be as ‘Smart’ as a Phone?

It's a tough challenge for the National Football League to entice fans off their comfy couches and into stadiums when ticket prices are almost as high as the sport's TV ratings.

The temptation to stay home goes beyond cost. Equipped with high-definition televisions, Wi-Fi and laptops, tablets and smartphones, fans at home can watch multiple games on Sunday while simultaneously checking their fantasy rosters and celebrating (or taunting) friends via text. So when the owners of the San Francisco 49ers drew up plans for the team's new $1.3 billion stadium, they tapped the ingenuity surrounding their Silicon Valley home.

The result? Levi's Stadium is home to the first mobile app designed to enhance every aspect of a fan's stadium experience, from steering fans to their parking spots to identifying the least-crowded restrooms. No more waiting in line for a $10 beer and $6 hot dog. During the game, fans can order food and drinks that can be delivered directly to their seats or picked up at express windows. Don't agree with that call? Use the app to watch instant replays from four camera angles.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak says he saw the app's potential as soon as he downloaded it for the 49ers' Sept. 14 regular-season opener.

"Everybody's connection to the outside world now really is their phone, so that has to become part of the (game-day) experience," he said.

Mike Roberts of Martinez, California, appreciated being able to order popcorn from his seat for pickup at an express window with no lines.

"Everyone living around here is pretty tech savvy," notes Roberts, "so this is the perfect place to try something like this."

The app will ask fans if they want to order food and drinks at certain times during the game, depending on past behavior patterns. And Levi's Stadium greeters now can welcome fans by...

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