Thursday, February 2, 2012
A few minutes with 49ers' stadium visionary
By Mike Sando
INDIANAPOLIS -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said the league must create appealing stadium experiences to lure fans from their increasingly user-friendly living rooms.
Goodell and the NFL have enabled the San Francisco 49ers to make it happen. The $200 million stadium loan approved Thursday was the final piece of the financial puzzle for funding a venue befitting its Santa Clara home in Silicon Valley.
"In order for the NFL to kind of thrive in the future, you have to have the ability for people to do what they want, when they want -- at the stadium," 49ers chief strategy officer Gideon Yu said Thursday, shortly after becoming a minority owner in the team.
Yu, 40, has extensive high-level experience in the tech industry. He describes himself as a die-hard football fan, a fantasy football player and, of course, fond of various gadgetry. He says York has empowered stadium planners to push technological boundaries.
"I've worked with a lot of great CEOs and founders out there," said Yu, who has brokered deals worth billions during stops at Facebook, Yahoo! and YouTube, among others. "Jed has an amazing ability to keep it high level, to keep it with a couple simple directional visions and then let his guys run with it. And we're running with it."
In other words, the stadium wireless will not only work, but it'll be blazing fast.
"Look, if we are building a new stadium in Silicon Valley, it has to be a technologically super-advanced stadium," Yu said. "Think about all you have when you are watching sports at home. Your fantasy sports, your replays, all that kind of stuff. What if you could design an entirely new stadium experience around your own preferences for technology?"