Gold Sox pitch wireless Internet access
Sunday, July 17, 2005 - On a summer evening, there's nothing like baseball, hot dogs and a quick check of incoming e-mails.
So it goes at All Seasons RV Stadium where Gold Sox fans can now have one hand on a cold brew and the other on a keyboard.
Wireless Internet access has been broadcast throughout the Marysville ballpark starting July 2. Gold Sox official technology partner Lighthouse Infomatics created the site.
Gold Sox co-owner Bob Bavasi enjoys experimenting, and the wireless access is part of that. The team is in a league of its own - literally - leaving Bavasi free to tinker with things without having to clear it with a league president.
"We really believe what we have here is a little baseball laboratory," Bavasi said.
Bavasi has also aimed cable TV cameras into the dugout and miked the players for broadcast. Bavasi said he got umpires together and asked them to speed up the game. Game times went from three hours, to two hours, 17 minutes; to one hour, 45 minutes. At less than two hours, that is less than the time of typical movie, Bavasi notes.
Attendance for the ball club so far this year is close to 30,000. That's up just over 10 percent from last year, which meets the club's goal, said Pat Skinner, the Gold Sox business manager.
Some fans would just as soon check out a hot dog laden with onions than check out an e-mail. A quick glance at the July 8 pregame crowd showed no one typing away on their laptops yet. But Bavasi thinks it's worth a shot to attract younger fans to the Gold Sox.
"We're thinking about younger people who like to be connected," Bavasi said.
Peter Bavasi, the club's co-managing partner, said the club has a diverse crowd and wants to encourage them - particularly the younger people - to come to the ball park.
While major-league baseball tends toward an older, male demographic, Peter Bavasi said he has noticed plenty of teens, children and younger fans at Gold Sox games.
Lighthouse Infomatics President Jeff Souza said people are more likely to access the Wi-Fi technology through handheld digital assistant devices than through laptops. The assistants are useful in sending text messages without the charges associated with cell phones messaging.
Souza said he has checked out the park's wireless signal and finds it works well throughout All Seasons RV Stadium except for an area under the bleachers. There is no way to monitor how many people have gone online at the stadium.
When Bob Bavasi proposed the idea, Souza said he was not too surprised because his company has installed Wi-Fi at other public areas including the Bonanza Inn, the Harkey House and Yuba City Honda.
Other ballparks have Wi-Fi access including SBC Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.
The club's media relations manager, Jim Moorehead, said the stadium began offering wireless Internet access last season after season ticket holders mentioned it in a survey.
With stadiums in Cincinnati, Houston and other cities going wireless, Moorehead said he would not be surprised if every major league club had it in a few years.
Dan Segel, spokesman for the West Coast Collegiate Baseball League, said he did not know of any league parks with wireless Internet access.
"I would say we're not wireless yet," Segel said.
INFO: Wi-Fi, short for wireless fidelity, is a local area network that uses high-frequency radio signals to send and receive data over distances of a few hundred feet. Wi-Fi can connect a computer or personal digital assistant to the Internet when it's near an access point, called a hotspot.
Appeal-Democrat reporter John Dickey can be reached at 749-4711. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.