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Stadium attendance emerging as issue for NFL

05/21/2013 2:55 PM ET
By Matt Hughes

MetLife Stadium may already be in need of upgrades to the facility's technology.(AP)
As NFL owners meet in Boston this week to discuss league business, stadium attendance has emerged as a priority issue for the league.

The advent of cable access, high definition TV and second-screen services like Twitter and fantasy football sites have made watching the NFL from the comfort of one's home better than ever. The NFL -- who broke through with major national TV deals in the 1960s -- has created a monster that it must now compete with to keep its stadiums full on game day.

Improving technology in the stadiums is the league's top priority.

New York Jets owner Woody Johnson acknowledged that MetLife Stadium, which opened in 2010, is already in need of some upgrades.

"It's not a question of money. It's a question of know-how," said Johnson about improving the stadium's technology.

Among the ideas the NFL is working towards are showing edited video content from the locker rooms, improved instant replays on video boards and pre-snap audio access -- including microphones on players, coaches and officials.

Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones believes exclusive access, despite concerns about how it might affect play on the field, is the way of the future.

"You've got to be careful, because you want them to be football players and play how they play," Jones said. "But if fans want to watch Ray Lewis and what he's saying and doing, they don't need it all, but they could use some fun stuff."

Ticketless entry, cashless concessions and other mobile app-driven services are also in the plans.

As most NFL teams scramble to improve technology in their stadiums, the league is on the verge of awarding Super Bowl L to San Francisco and the modern Levi's Stadium which is set to open in 2014. The technology driven stadium will be the new standard for the NFL, and with hosting a Super Bowl so early in its tenure, is close to becoming a major financial competitive advantage for the San Francisco 49ers. 

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