January 16, 2013, 4:55 PM —
Sunday's AFC Championship game between the New England Patriots and visiting Baltimore Ravens will be the fourth at Gillette Stadium since 2001, so the host's IT department knows the drill just as well as the players and coaches.
MORE BOSTON SPORTS: At 100 years old, Fenway Park brims with new technology
"When it comes to the playoffs, there's no substitute for experience, and we've been fortunate enough to where we know that, at each level, 'OK if we win this game, boom, this is what we need to do.' Without the IT infrastructure, a lot of it wouldn't be possible," Fred Kirsch, publisher and vice president of content for the Kraft Group, told an audience of IT execs and media Tuesday night at the stadium.
Kirsch wasn't the only sports IT pro at the event - he was joined by representatives from the Celtics, Bruins and Red Sox, who emphasized the unique challenges posed by the playoffs. Increased media attention, new promotional considerations and a host of other factors come into play.
"There's more people, more signs, you just have to keep rolling with it. In the case of basketball, we play a lot of games if we go all the way to the finals, and each game - and certainly each series - adds more and more layers on top," said Jay Wessel, Boston Celtics vice president of technology. "It's probably at least an order of magnitude more than Monday night against Charlotte that we had yesterday."
Lorraine Spadaro, vice president of technology and eBusiness for the Boston Bruins, said that the NHL even imposes a 100-page set of mandates on facilities for playoff games.
"That [document is] basically, 'Here's what's required of you to host to the Stanley Cup championships' ... and it's got a very significant IT requirement," she said.