Headingley Cricket Ground Upgrades Wi-Fi To Remain Test Match Standard

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Yorkshire County Cricket Club says media network upgrade necessary if Headingley is to continue hosting international cricket

Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) has upgraded the Wi-Fi network at Headingley Stadium’s hospitality and media facilities in a bid to ensure the historic ground in Leeds is better equipped to host England international matches.

Ruckus Wireless ZoneFlex access points have been equipped in the pavilion and pitch-side to ensure members of the press can update news feeds and file match reports and so photographers can upload photos.

Access points have also been installed in other parts of the ground to connect staff and hospitality guests in the museum, bars and lounges to the network.

Test Match Special

Yorkshire County Cricket Club © YorkshireSuch connectivity is vital if Headingley is to continue to be selected by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to host internationals given the highly competitive bidding process as more and more grounds across the country seek to host money-spinning test matches, One Day Internationals and Twenty20 games.

David Ryder, YCCC operations director, told TechWeekEurope that its previous wireless network had not been up to scratch as the media connected more devices, something which was noted by the ECB.

“Our demands are very cyclical in nature,” he said. “We go from having four or five press in attendance for a normal county match and the system coped very well, but on an international match day, you’ve got 70 to 80 press and another 25 or 30 photographers. So demand for the service absolutely mushrooms during that period and our system couldn’t cope [before the upgrade].”

“In our feedback reports from the ECB, they said we’ve got to up our game with the Wi-Fi because if the press can’t work, it’s not good for headingley as a venue.”

Intense competition

The battle to host international matches has seen Headingley and other grounds like Old Trafford in Manchester and Edgbaston in Birmingham invest in new stands and facilities to compete with newcomers on the scene in Chester-Le-Street, Southampton and Cardiff

“It’s not like it used to be,” added Ryder. “Twenty years ago, you were just allocated a test match and you dealt with it. Now we’ve got to keep our facilities bang up to date because If somebody does any part of the operation better, they’re going to have a better chance to win the bid. It’s not just about finance, it’s about the facilities you can offer.”

Headingley cricket ground pavillionHeadingley, nor does any other test venue, offer public Wi-Fi to fans, but the ECB is looking into finding a way of delivering such connectivity to enhance the spectator experience so as many people come through the gates as possible. Many stadiums are investing in such networks because they fear some fans will prefer to stay at home so they can communicate and access social media.

Bums on seats

“It’s just a question of priorities,” explained Ryder. “You can only start somewhere and the priority was to look after the press and media side of it first.

“We want the press onside so they write favourable things about Headingley. If they’re writing their daily report and the computer crashes, we’re not going to be flavour of the month.”

“But there’s an expectation now as spectators pay decent money to watch a day’s international cricket and they expect everything to be as it would be in daily life. That’s why the ECB are looking at providing connectivity all across the stadiums. It’s a battle to get people to come in the first place and you want to have the best day possible. We want repeat business.”

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