July 10, 2014 — All stadium wireless systems evolve over time with changes in usage, new spectrum and advances in technology, but sometimes an upgrade will be spurred by a special event to ensure adequate capacity. That is certainly the case with Target Field in Minneapolis, which plans to be ready with extra wireless capacity, as the Major League Baseball All-Star Game brings a mass of people with wireless digital devices, as well as additional scrutiny by MLB executives, media and a nationwide TV audience.
In preparation for this year’s Major League Base All-Star Game and the prospect of additional strain on the capacity of the wireless system, Insite Wireless revamped the DAS at Target Field using equipment from TE Connectivity.
“There are no empty seats at an All-Star Game. It is a big event with a huge influx of media,” said John Spindler, TE Connectivity vice president product management. “While the stadium has a seating capacity of 39,000 people, conservatively there will be around 45,000 to 50,000 people in the stadium, which demands a lot more wireless system capacity than a regular game.”
The All-Star revamp of the DAS at Target Field included adding 1900 MHz MIMO and 2100 MHz Advanced Wireless Service 4G LTE services and adding eight new sectors — four for access and egress areas and four for the seating area.
“We are seeing this across the entire portfolio of stadiums that we have done,” Spindler said. “There are three tools that DAS providers have to increase capacity: they can add frequencies, they can increase the number of coverage sectors, and they can deploy MIMO antennas.”
The equipment manufacturer has worked with Insite Wireless on DAS solutions at the ball field since Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, opened in 2010 when a low-power 2G and 3G DAS using the 850 MHz and 1900 MHz bands was deployed in the locker rooms and business offices. A year later, high-power remotes were deployed for coverage in the seating areas and the concourses using six sectors. In 2012, 700 MHz LTE capability was added into the system.
After the All-Star Game is over, the Twins won’t let the extra capacity go to waste as fans will gobble up data like hot dogs.
“Enhancing the fan experience through wireless helps stadiums compete to get fans to leave their couch at home and come to the event. The ability to see replays is something that has not been available at the stadiums,” Spindler said.
Additionally, active components were added to the BTS-to-DAS headend, to reduce the need for space and allow for remote diagnostics and monitoring of the carriers’ downlink power levels.