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1/30/2002
02:27 PM
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Football Fans See Games From A New Angle

Denver Broncos fans can access instant replays, highlights, bloopers, and camera angles from anywhere in the football stadium with just the touch of a screen.

The Denver Broncos didn't make the NFL playoffs this season, but they're touting a technological first for a football team. Broncos fans who watched games from luxury box seats in the team's new stadium, Invesco Field at Mile High, were able to view instant replays, game highlights, bloopers, and team and player stats by accessing applications on flat-panel touch screen monitors from Planar Systems Inc.

The Broncos IT staff developed the GamePlus systems, and with the help of consulting firm Opera Glass Networks, connected them to all of the video cameras in the stadium. Fans can watch the action from any camera angle in the stadium just by touching the screen, says Rick Schoenhals, director of IT for the Broncos.

Installing this interactive technology was a competitive, IT-driven move, says Schoenhals. "I just know technology is gaining a bigger place in sports venues and sporting events," Schoenhals says. The need to stay competitive became even more important after moving to the new stadium last August. "We're opening a new venue and we don't want to find out someone who opened next week is doing these great things with technology and we're not doing it," he says. "We can't be complacent in any area, including technology."

The Broncos organization is bearing the cost of running 135 GamePlus systems in the stadium, but it hopes to eventually offset the undisclosed costs with corporate sponsorships. AT&T Broadband, for instance, sponsored the systems for one game the past season. In return, the company's name and logo was displayed on the monitor screens. The Broncos would like to see use of the system spread throughout the National Football League. "We're hoping the NFL looks at what we're doing and supports a leaguewide rollout of these systems to all stadiums," Schoenhals says. "When multiple teams invest in the same technology, the price comes down for everybody." An NFL spokesman says the league would consider deploying interactive monitors for each football team, but it's not planning any implementations at this time.

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