Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company (NYSE: HPE), has announced that FC Cincinnati (FCC), the Cincinnati-based Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise, has deployed an end-to-end Aruba ESP (Edge Services Platform) network at its new 26,000-seat TQL Stadium to power one of the most ambitious soccer-specific venues worldwide, raising the bar for game day and special event experiences.
To create its completely cashless, digitalised facility, FCC deployed a combination of Aruba’s wired, wireless and security solutions. Visitor-facing connectivity starts with SeatGeek mobile ticketing and Fortress wireless scanners for fast, paperless entry. For game and other visuals, two massive Daktronics and 14,370 feet of SACO V-STICK S display live images, instant replays, up-to-the-minute statistics, graphics and animations inside the stadium and across the building’s expansive eastern façade.
Operational connectivity includes approximately 200 point-of-sale devices controlled by cloud-enabled Appetise to support the stadium’s 175 food and beverage vendors, enabling FCC to process thousands of game day and special event transactions within milliseconds. Other connected systems range from hundreds of security cameras and door access devices to multiple business applications such as Microsoft Office 365.
“We based every aspect of designing, building and maintaining our stadium on creating next-generation fan experiences,” explained Dan Lolli, vice president of Facilities and Stadium General Manager for FC Cincinnati. “Working with our IT-as-a-Service partner Atomic Data, we determined Aruba was the leader in stadium deployments that provide fans with superior, high-performance, reliable, and consistent experiences while being efficient and cost-effective to manage.”
In collaboration with Atomic Data, FCC selected and deployed a future-ready wireless network comprised of Aruba’s Wi-Fi 6 indoor and outdoor access points (APs) and mobility controllers. For wired networking, FCC implemented Aruba’s access switches at the edge for IP audio and video along with the CX Series switches for access, aggregation and in the data centre.
Deploying high-performance Wi-Fi enabled FCC to offer fans the latest in mobile amenities, such as the ability to deliver tickets to guests with the touch of a screen. “Mobile ticketing is also important from a business perspective as it eliminates much of the counterfeit ticketing that is widespread throughout entertainment,” said Lolli.
Once inside, guests enjoy contactless ordering of refreshments and merchandise to ensure they see all the action. “On opening day, our network processed more than 16,000 food and beverage transactions over a few hours, with most completed in less than half a second,” Lolli said. “Our network enables us to provide the exceptional experiences that help us differentiate ourselves from other sporting and non-sporting entertainment options.”
FCC is also relying on Aruba’s advanced network administration tools like ClearPass, for policy-based network access control (NAC) and NetEdit, for coordinating switch configuration, monitoring and troubleshooting. “During stadium construction, Aruba’s robust tools enabled Atomic Data to stage our entire network off-site and ship it to our stadium,” said Lolli. “This streamlined deployment by four to eight weeks versus the traditional on-site approach, helping us meet our Opening Day deadlines. Since then, Aruba’s software automation has ensured efficient network management on a day-to-day basis.”
Moving forward, FCC expects to continue evaluating Aruba’s cloud-based, AIOps-enabled networking innovations such as Aruba Central for proactive network management, User Experience Insight (UXI) for detecting Wi-Fi incidents that require immediate attention, and Air Pass for seamless device handoffs between cellular networks and Wi-Fi.
The team is also assessing Aruba’s Location Services for supporting real-time crowd intelligence. “As soccer fans only leave their seats during halftime, location services can help us with analysing and directing traffic flow,” Lolli said. “Clearly, anything that assists with expanding opportunities for fans to have great experiences is something we’ll consider.”