It has been just six years since the Dallas Cowboys opened "Jerry's World," a stadium that houses 110,000 fans, sports a retractable roof and, at the time, featured the largest high definition video display in human history.
The construction of the Arlington mega-stadium sparked competition that fans will appreciate for decades. The benchmark for stadiums was set again when the 49ers unveiled its new home last July. With its Silicon Valley sponsors and goal of being the "greenest stadium ever," Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara reflected the way the fan experience was changing. Technology, environmentalism and live entertainment were merging.
Now it's the Atlanta Falcons' turn to raise the bar.
The replacement for the Georgia Dome is set to be completed in 2017 and will also be home to an MLS expansion team. The plan is for the Falcons to host a Super Bowl by 2020.
"You don't just build a world-class stadium not to host the Super Bowl," says Mike Gomes, the Falcons' new senior vice president for fan experience. "We are making it clear that we are ready to host world-class events."
A partnership between IBM and Arthur M. Blank Sports and Entertainment (parent company of the Falcons) is part of that preparation.
"Arthur and the leadership here want to change the entertainment game," says Gomes, a former Disney executive.
Plans for the yet-to-be-named stadium include a retractable roof, more than 2,000 video displays, a tech lounge equipped for fantasy football enthusiasts, and a "smart" stadium environment interconnected through IBM network technologies.
But the crown jewel is expected to be an HD video Halo Board that measures 63,000 square foot (five stories tall).
"I'm super excited as a fan, and a partner, to see that Halo Board," says Shannon Miller, head of global strategy at IBM. "It's the largest screen in the world and to see what we can do with our technology platform to drive content on it, I am really excited."
With a revolutionary 360-degree design, the board is intended to give every viewer a unique visual experience by circling the stadium. This behemoth should be more than enough to make Jerry Jones envious.
Without unveiling too much of what AMBSE has in store for its fans, Gomes says the fan experience at the new stadium will be increasingly unique to the individual and cater to their desires in the digital age.
"With Netflix, Amazon or Facebook, it is highly personalized to the individual, but it has never been done with the stadium experience," Gomes says. "That is what we are working on.
"We want it to be so immersive, so compelling, so entertaining that the thought of watching it from home doesn't compare."
The new stadium will be located just 84 feet from the soon-to-be obsolete Georgia Dome, a location that resonates with those at AMBSE. Rather than construct the new stadium in miles away in the suburbs (which is what the Atlanta Braves are doing), Blank and AMBSE wanted the structure in the heart of Atlanta, so it could help with things such as job creation and a commitment to sustainability.
"You would like to be recognized for the loyalty you have given," Gomes says.