Going mobile at the ball park: Connectivity challenges may stymie texting, tweeting at GABP

CINCINNATI - Scoring Opening Day tickets means you get to see your Cincinnati Reds in person on Monday.

Chances are you'll want to share--or brag a little--via text message or using social media apps on your mobile device. But that may be easier said than done.

Toward the end of the 2012 season, a blogger for NBCSports.com wrote about complaints from fans about connectivity at Great American Ball Park.

Hardballtalk's Craig Calcaterra wrote:

"As someone who takes in a fair amount of games at that park, I can attest to these problems. I know all parks have some connectivity issues, but I've never seen worse than I've seen in Cincinnati. It's almost impossible to get a signal when there is even a halfway decent crowd in the joint."

Picture A Revolving Door

Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Laura Merritt acknowledged that the high number of users at Great American Ball Park on Monday could make it harder to call, text or use mobile apps.

"Particularly when you're looking at something that's not part of the regular season, or unique like Opening Day, you're going to see significantly more people in and around the ballpark than you may see during a regular season ball game," Merritt said.

Think of it as a revolving door trying to take on more people than usual, she added.

"Try to envision maybe 100 people trying to go through the revolving door at the same time," she said. "The normal circumstance, when you have 20 people trying to go through, goes smoothly. If you suddenly increase the amount of people, you're going to jam up."

Different Connectivity Experiences

Hebron resident Lori Wagner knows about the connectivity jam up at Reds games. She is a Verizon Wireless customer.

"It was actually [a problem] for the last two seasons," Wagner said. "My husband has 4G: He has no problem with it. I have 3G and so do most of my friends, and when we're at the ballpark, it's an absolute dead zone."

Wagner said her phone usually works before games, but not during.

"I'm pretty big on social media, and it's funny because [the Reds] have their tweets they show before the game," she said. "It's kind of pointless for probably a lot of people in the ballpark because you can't do anything.

Verizon Wireless is looking for a way to remedy this problem, Merritt said, and is in the process of making "significant improvements at the ballpark."

As for the Reds, Public Relations Manager Mike Anderson said he's had no trouble with cellphone service there. Nor have Cincinnati Bell customers, according to a spokeswoman for that provider.

Great American Ball Park does not have a public Wi-Fi connection, Anderson said. He added that everyone would probably like to see that to happen.

Paul Goebel, owner of the nearby Holy Grail Banks, also said he's seen no interruption of his phone service during Reds games.

"The landline you're calling me on I use maybe twice a day," Goebel said. "I live and work off my cellphone because we have multiple restaurants. I've never had an issue."

Calls to service provider AT&T were not returned, but trials with that provider at the ballpark throughout last season by WCPO Digital provided better results than Verizon, but still less than ideal. Trials with Sprint proved similar results to those of Verizon users.

Have you had problems using your mobile device at Great American Ball Park? Leave a comment in the section below.

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