NFL brings an old innovation to the Rogers Centre

When the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets visited Toronto’s Rogers Centre last night as part of the Toronto-Bills Series, they brought with them more than just 4-down football. They brought SMS mobile technology.

Now, before you raise a Spock-ian eyebrow let’s take a quick look at this. At Toronto Blue Jays baseball games (also held at the Rogers Centre) the Jumbotron often flashes a shortcode to let the audience play various promotions and competitions for prizes. Last night’s game was the first time, again, in the Rogers Centre, that an SMS shortcode has been available for the sole purpose of ensuring a pleasant event experience for the fans.

Here’s how it worked: A shortcode was provided (in this case 78247) to the fans. Called the Guest Assist Program (GAS), fans were encouraged to send a text message i order to advise stadium personnel if there was a problem or even emergency in their area. As of now, it is not known how successful GAS was in assisting fans. Will we see the continued use of shortcodes at other Rogers Centre events?

Don’t hold your breath. Why? First, GAS is a Bills service and was not a Rogers Centre initiative. Second, apparently, the technology is too expensive.

You read that last sentence right. It’s not too expensive to promote products and services via mobile text messages. But to provide an outstanding guest experience, I guess it is. You would think that a company that knows a thing or two about technology and innovation would be able to “pull a few strings” for their own Rogers Centre. Maybe it’s not a priority. Time will tell. Five months till Opening Day.