8 Technologies Inside New England Patriots Gillette Stadium That Drive Marketing, Networking Decisions

NFL Season Opener At Gillette Stadium

Following last year's network upgrade at Gillette Stadium, home to the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, CRN went behind the scenes to see what technologies are being leveraged and which analytics are being monitored inside the stadium, which holds nearly 70,000 spectators.

Extreme Networks with help from solution providers Carousel Industries and BEI.Networks have revamped the Wi-Fi experience for fans at Gillette and are continuously tracking all types of data to make sure the New England Patriots and the NFL are targeting the correct audience.

Here are eight products and analytics datapoints being leveraged inside Gillette Stadium this football season.

Wave 2 AP's Underneath Seats

Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., now has more than 1,100 Wave 2 access points (APs) provided by Extreme Networks. Nearly 650 of those APs are installed underneath the seats, with several Extreme Networks wireless controllers managing the stadium's Wi-Fi. The vast majority of the APs inside the stadium are Extreme Networks' 3800 and 3900 series of 802.11ac access points. In this photo, the AP is the gray box attached to the bottom of the seat.

Device Families

Extreme Networks and solution providers constantly track which type of devices are on the network, including ones running Apple iOS, Android, Mac, Linux, Windows and Windows Mobile. Patrick Reed, network engineering manager for BEI Net.Works, a Bedford, N.H.-based solution provider and Extreme partner, was tasked with managing the Wi-Fi and analytics during the New England Patriots versus Kansas City Chiefs game on Sept. 7.

"It's still predominantly Apple right now," said Reed a few hours before kickoff. "That's not always the case. In some venues, its more of a 50-50 split between Apple and Android. Marketing people can use that to determine demographics."

Social Media Bandwidth

One critical real-time datapoint being monitored is social media. Extreme Networks and partners monitor the social bandwidth being used from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, WordPress and YouTube.

"Analytics is about giving valid information over to marketing to allow them to tailor specific updates for promotions to go out to people who are going to be in the stadium," said Reed. "So at the end of the first quarter, if they put up a promotion, what platform should they put it out on? That's the key."

Wireless Cups

The New England Patriots are constantly trying to bring a unique experience to fans each and every game. For the season opener against the Chiefs, the stadium gave each fan a free cup with batteries on the bottom that would light up and flash anytime the Patriots scored points. By sending out a network signal inside the stadium, tens of thousands of blue and red flashing cups could be seen around the venue during a Patriots touchdown or field goal.

Wireless Clients And Bandwidth

Tracking the wireless bandwidth and clients on the network is a fundamental and critical aspect to making sure fans get the most flawless Wi-Fi experience possible before, during and after a game. The real-time data allows IT teams to discover, find and locate network issues that must be fixed immediately.

"If there's a very large dip or spike in bandwidth, that indicates something has gone wrong. That's what we look for -- those big changes in bandwidth and in client counts," said Reed.

Extreme Networks and partners also specifically track the bandwidth usage of media and weather outlets at the game including CNN, ABC News, CBS News, MSN, Fox News, NBC News, National Weather Service, Weather Channel and Weather Underground.

Move To 5 GHz

Another interesting datapoint being monitored is the amount of clients on 2.4GHz radio versus 5GHz. Reed, whose company specializes in networking services with a focus on stadiums, said large venues are turning away from 2.4GHz in favor of faster speeds.

"Stadiums are moving away from 2.4. 2.4 is turned on specific for legacy devices, for the press, for Ticketmaster. We're trying to get everybody away from 2.4," Reed said.


Monitoring and analyzing application groups and the bandwidth usage of each group is important to make sure everything is working smoothly. Application groups being tracked include cloud storage, protocols, web applications, cloud computing and web content services. Approximately two hours prior to kickoff, there were about 1,369 applications being monitored on the network per hour.


The Patriots are using Extreme Networks' ExtremeManagement offering that provides centralized visibility and granular control of network resources end to end. The single-pane-of-glass management system offers wired and wireless control from the data center to the mobile edge aimed at optimizing network operations efficiency and reducing total cost of ownership.