New Mets Ballpark Offers Unified Communications

The New York Mets are installing a new networking and unified communications system at Citi Field, a stadium that is slated to open for baseball next spring.

Joe Milone, the team's senior director of information systems and technology, said the project will significantly improve communications among Mets employees and with fans of the team.

Milone said the new stadium gave the team a unique opportunity to build the multimillion-dollar system, using networking equipment and unified communications applications from Nortel Networks Ltd.

At Citi Field, the nearly 200 full-time Mets employees will, among other things, be able to easily tie teleconference bridges into the network and receive voice mails and faxes in their e-mail in-boxes.

In addition, about half of the 70 call center agents working in a new administration building connected to Citi Field will use phones running over IP on the network, Milone said.

Nortel's design allows traditional circuit-switched calling alongside IP communications, so Milone decided to keep the other 35 call center agents on traditional gear as a backup in case of IP network problems.

"Our call center is where we sell tickets, so it's our bread and butter," he noted.

The first big test of the system began last Friday with the move of the team's data center from the Mets current home, Shea Stadium, to the new 42,000-seat facility built in Shea's outfield parking lot.

The system will also provide Citi Field with up to 250 Wi-Fi access points that can support a range of functions, including wireless ticket-scanning and submitting of food orders from spectator seats.

Nortel's Wi-Fi gear isn't yet rated for the 802.11n draft standard, but it can be easily upgraded once the final standard is in place, Milone said.

This version of the story originally appeared in Computerworld's print edition.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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