March 18, 2010, 2:32 PM — In Texas, everything is supposed to be big – and nobody understands that better than Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. So it was only natural that his Cowboys would build the world's largest domed stadium and hang an 11,520 square-foot video screen right above the field.
Getting Cowboys Stadium ready for its 2009 opening was a massive job for many people, including IT professionals such as Bill Haggard, who is director of enterprise infrastructure for the Dallas Cowboys and other Jones family holdings. As a savvy IT executive, Haggard realized his main objective is to make technology fit the needs of the business. When you manage the infrastructure of the Dallas Cowboys, that's not as simple as it sounds.
"From an infrastructure perspective we've got a pretty large task on event days, not just counting day to day operations," Haggard says in a recent interview. "We're not really borrowing [strategy] from any other pro sports franchise. There are not other teams that have started doing what we're doing. A lot of the stuff we've done has been very leading edge for sports and entertainment arenas."
The 160-by-72 foot video screen is just one of 3,000 TVs in the stadium. The TVs are the key part of Haggard's digital signage infrastructure, which generates lots of revenue for the franchise, particularly with advertisers. Instead of ripping and replacing physical signs, the Cowboys can just change the display on a screen with the push of a few buttons.
"We had a college bowl game [the Cotton Bowl Classic] here one afternoon and a pro game the next day," Haggard says. "The stadium had to look one way for the college game and advertise their corporate sponsors, and then we had to transform the venue back to the Cowboys brand for the Philadelphia game on Jan. 3. IPTV and digital signage gives us the ability to transform the venue very quickly."
In the past, when the Cowboys lacked digital signage "it used to be a tedious manual process," he says. Now, "Out of the 3,000 TVs we have on the network, we can use any of them for digital signage, target advertising to certain areas, show sports tickers and do live video." The $1.1 billion stadium is outfitted with Cisco Connected Sports technologies, including Cisco StadiumVision and IP phones and infrastructure.