Gertrude Stein famously said of Oakland, “There is no there there.” Well, soon there will be no baseball team there either. The A’s are moving to Fremont, which is—no offense to Fremont – ever so much more there-less than Oakland.
The move stems from an offer by Cisco Systems, the computer networking giant, to build the stadium of the future. That’s right. Even stadiums need to be upgraded in this digital age: Stadium 2.0.
In a presentation at the Oracle OpenWorld convention, Cisco CEO John Chambers limned a place where fans could buy tickets through their cell phones, access scorecards from their seats, buy pictures of themselves from crowd cameras, and pay to have them displayed on the Jumbotron.
He painted a word picture of a land where digital signs identify fans through their PDAs and smart phones, and deliver personalized ads to them, where fans can use their cell phones to get snacks, stats, instant replays; a magical gathering place where they can even watch the game live on their phones or laptops. (Why you would choose to do this when the game is right in front of you is a puzzler, but then again, we’ll mediate just about anything these days.)
The hypothetical team Mr. Chambers used for his demonstration was the Oakland A’s, who apparently took the hint. “Wow,” the A’s thought to themselves. “The fans can order a Polish right there on their cell phones! That’s for us!”
Build the stadium, and they will come.
Or maybe by the time the stadium is built, it won’t be the actual Oakland A’s, but digital avatars of the Oakland A’s. It might not even be an actual stadium, but a 3D environment in a virtual Fremont. That way, the fans won’t have to brave traffic, and can just stay at home. Or go to work, sit in their cubicles, and enjoy the game from there.
Clearly Cisco hasn’t thought this through. You can’t Tivo a baseball game, if you’re watching it live. And if fans can’t Tivo the game, they’ll just say the hell with it.
Why not put some kind of chip in the players to enable a real world real time Tivo? You might run into trouble if fans choose different times to Tivo the game, but the very fact that they can do it would be very cool. Add a rewind function, and you could really change the face of the game as we know it.
Why not implant chips in the hot dogs? The hot dog could speak to the fan in the voice of his favorite player, and recommend a beverage, based on the fan’s profile.
And why should you have to walk to overcrowded stadium restrooms? Couldn’t there be a catheter issued to fans, which would extract secretions based on their urination patterns (accessed through personal profiles), so nobody would have to miss one minute of the action?
I’m ballparking here, but couldn’t we install chips in the fans themselves that would place them all on the same urination schedule? This would eliminate the Tivo problem referenced above, as would this suggestion: Tivo the cell phone calls of the fans.
The fans, who apparently are all going to be hardcore geeks, are not going to let anything interfere with their communication devices, not even America’s favorite pastime. But with modern technology, all calls can occur simultaneously (even if they don’t!), which could make for a very interesting cell phone symphony.
As for the game itself, modern fans want what they want when they want it. Why can’t this stadium give that to them? If some fans want the Angels, say, to win against the Athletics, why should they go home broken-hearted? In a virtual reality, everybody can get what he or she desires. Surely, this miraculous stadium can provide that.
In a brave new world where nobody loses, everybody’s a winner, and there’s always a “there” for somebody, there’s a way to please everybody, all the time. Yes, there’s a there there for you, uniquely tailored to your needs.
Even if you don’t know what your there is, the Stadium will, and will provide it. With your good credit, of course.