• Former NFL player Tully Banta-Cain says hologram technology is coming to pro sports sooner than you think.
By Connor Grossman
June 15, 2017

The future NFL stadium Tully Banta-Cain imagines has no physical jumbotron. It lacks standard advertisements and even a stationary game clock. The only physical remnants remaining are the seats, the field and the players.

Everything else, the eight-year NFL veteran believes, can be projected as a 3D image—a hologram.

Instead of listing starting lineups on a video board, they could be beamed onto the field as life-size versions of the players. Interactive exhibits could allow fans to catch a pass from holographic Tom Brady or race against Usain Bolt. 3D advertisements could connect products to consumers in an entirely new way, something that particularly piques the interest of teams looking to bring holographic technology to their venues.

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With all of the far-fetched possibilities, sounding more fit for an episode of the Jetsons than a sports arena, this much is certain: Change is coming.

“The whole key is the innovation factor,” says Banta-Cain. “Companies really want to get behind something that’s new and not traditional. It hasn’t been done. It doesn’t exist.”

That’s Banta-Cain’s selling point to teams, and he’s already reached out to the Patriots and 49ers, the only teams he played for. The former NFL linebacker has been all over the place since leaving the field in 2010, appearing in movies and starting an apparel company with his father in the Bay Area. His next move will bring him to the intersection of sports and technology as the new vice president of sports marketing with Hologram USA Networks, working under owner Alki David.

It’s the same company that brought late rapper Tupac Shakur back to perform at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 2012, and now they’ll try to use Banta-Cain’s NFL roots to gain similar popularity in the sports realm.

What’s required first is one team getting on board, and it’s hard to imagine a better client to set precedent than the Patriots and their future Hall of Fame quarterback. Banta-Cain has already tossed around ideas with the team and even Brady, who didn’t need much convincing to commit to the concept.

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“Once I told him he could be like Tupac…Tom was all excited about that,” Banta-Cain said. “I even told him we could get [a hologram] of him and Tupac performing together. So he got a kick out of that.”

Besides team-specific content, one of Banta-Cain’s top goals is installing holograms at different hall of fames—or Hallo-fames, as he would like to call them. He envisions life-size versions of players projected next to their statues in Canton, Ohio, or beside their plaques in Cooperstown, N.Y. Watch Babe Ruth swing a bat or listen to a younger Jim Brown talk about his three MVP seasons. Holographic technology could make it a possibility, and that’s only scraping the surface.

Celtics co-owner Wycliffe Grousbeck wants to bring back former coach Red Auerbach in holographic form. Floyd Mayweather is interested in resurrecting famous deceased boxers. Banta-Cain would love to tap into the 49ers teams from his childhood, building an exhibit to simulate throwing a pass to Jerry Rice or catching one from Joe Montana.

It’s all a possibility with holograms. And Banta-Cain says some form of the technology could even reach stadiums this year. Imagine that.

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