A Whole New Ballgame
By Fritz Esker ’00
Throughout their 50 years of existence, the Saints’ archrival has remained constant: the Atlanta Falcons. So it was a little awkward when Loyola graduate, Metairie native, and lifelong member of the Who Dat Nation Brandi Boatner ’05 (communication), a digital experience manager at IBM since 2010, found herself working with, you guessed it, the Atlanta Falcons.
The Falcons are building a state-ofthe- art stadium for the 2017 season, and everyone working on the project knows that, in the smartphone era, fans like to remain connected at sporting events and share photos on Facebook or Instagram.
Most stadiums' WiFi is iffy at best, however, and the Falcons wanted to make sure the connectivity was top-notch in the new stadium. IBM is building the infrastructure to make this a reality. Boatner, who majored in the public relations sequence, spreads the word about the project and its progress for IBM.
"People want to be able to connect to their phones at the game," Boatner says. "If WiFi is shoddy, it tarnishes the fan experience."
In addition to in-game WiFi, the Falcons want their fans to have a better experience before they even leave their homes. Imagine if fans received information on their phones about which spot to park in and which gate to enter through before arriving at the game. And imagine if during the game, fans could check on restroom lines from their seats so they could pick an optimal time for a bathroom break. The most interesting capability is letting fans pre-order concessions by using data from previous concession stand purchases by season ticket holders. If a fan typically gets a beer and a pretzel, for instance, he will be messaged pre-game and asked if he wants to pre-order it and have it ready for pickup on arrival.
Even though she remains a loyal Saints fan, the project has been a lot of fun for Boatner.
"The Falcons’ front office and business operations people are some of the nicest people I’ve ever worked with," Boatner says.
She credits Loyola with giving her a strong background in public relations, as well as in critical thinking and writing. These skills have been invaluable to her in her career.
Since her mother was pregnant with her when she earned her master’s from Loyola, Boatner likes to tell people she has two degrees from Loyola.
"I would not be at IBM if I did not receive the education I received," Boatner says.