Friday June 24th, 2016

Read about the latest sports tech news, innovations, ideas and products that impact players, fans and the sports industry overall at SportTechie.com.

In Oct. 2016, the Sacramento Kings will unveil their brand-new, $507 million stadium. Along with an impressive array of 84-foot video screens, the Kings plan to integrate a high-capacity Wi-Fi system into the stadium, making it easier than ever for fans to share their experiences via social media.

However, faster sharing via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter will not be the only benefits. The Kings hope enable instant access to virtual reality replays for fans within the stadium. While the specifics are uncertain, it is thought that mobile VR viewers or headsets will be tested soon after the stadium is operational. In the meantime, the stadium’s construction progress can be viewed live here.

The idea is to narrow the discrepancy between courtside seats and nosebleeds, giving all spectators a better viewing experience.

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It may even offer future opportunities to view full matches in movie theatre-like environments within the stadium, a prospect which Paul Jacobs, vice chairman and co-owner of the team, believes may prove extremely popular. “They’d still be there to feel the roar of the crowd and be part of it but be watching in a slightly different way,” he told MIT Technology Review.

Indeed, the Kings may be carving out a market with serious potential for fans who are either priced-out of buying tickets or simply can’t make the game. Galen Clavio, director of the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana University, believes so. “There’s only a finite number of courtside seats,” he told MIT. “If you can export 80% of that experience to people sitting in their homes, that could be a real market that doesn’t exist today.”

Courtside seats will undoubtedly remain the optimum viewing standard for the NBA. However, where poorer seats are concerned, the expansion of virtual reality technology through innovators like the Kings may prove to be a vital tool in recreating what makes courtside seats so great—perhaps just without the sweat.

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