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Dr. Saturday

SEC explores ways to keep attendance high, including $2 million per stadium to improve Wi-Fi

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(USA Today Sports Images)

Every sport is dealing with the issue of people deciding to stay at home and watch a game rather than deal with going to the stadium. Part of it is their own fault.

Teams have been gouging for years. NFL teams run a scam called preseason, with two fake (and fully priced) games on the season-ticket package. College teams insist on charging fans for dreadful games against FCS teams as part of their schedule. Then when you get charged $50 just to park your car, and have to wait in a long line for a beer that's the same price as a six-pack (with change left over) at the convenience store by your house, and you realize that you'd see the game and replays far better on your HDTV at home, you wonder why you're at the stadium.

Teams are smart enough to realize that fans aren't going to be so excited to spend a ton on that home game against Chattanooga, so they are brainstorming ways of making the stadium experience worthwhile. And one of the ideas that is sure to cause traditionalists to vomit: Improving Wi-Fi in stadiums.

It would be priceless to see Woody Hayes or Bear Bryant have a meeting with the athletic director and be told that the school is spending $2 million to improve the Internet connection inside the stadium.

CBSSports.com wrote a story discussing all the ways the SEC is thinking about improving the stadium experience, and it was interesting considering that conference is doing quite well. But there's already enough concern to start being proactive.

Part of the solution is Wi-Fi. The CBS story had the $2 million per stadium figure to make sure all fans can be online.

"Our next generation of fans is used to staying connected. They should be able to communicate in real time with somebody on the other side of the stadium," Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said, according to CBSSports.com. "It's quite an investment but we have to make it."

We assume the notion of needing a good smartphone connection inside a stadium when you're at a football game will irk plenty of people, but that's modern life. Texting friends, posting pictures online, keeping updated with everything going on outside the stadium – these things are all important in a multitasking society. You may not get why that person next to you is swiping on his phone right before that big third down, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen or that it's going to change.

College football has an advantage in the attendance battle. There's more to a college football game experience than, say, the relatively sterile experience of being at a NFL game. The traditions, the bands and cheerleaders, the unique venues and the college towns will always make going to a game in person different than staying at home.

Just as long as you can Snapchat on your phone at the stadium between plays.

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