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How Oracle helps tackle the Super Bowl's insane food demands


This year's Super Bowl has already achieved at least one alarming record: it is the most expensive sporting event in U.S. history. The average ticket price on SeatGeek is just below $5,000.

With the game taking place at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., just minutes from Silicon Valley, some are calling this the "tech bowl." It's why elite tech giants that don't normally do sports sponsorships, like Apple, signed on to sponsor this year's Super Bowl Host Committee. It's why Intel (INTC) paid to have its name on one of the stadium's main gates.

And with wealthy techies happy to fork over big money to attend, the stadium will be at full capacity, brimming with football fans, corporate groups and special guests, most of whom will arrive nice and early to eat and drink before kickoff. A super-packed stadium for a super-special, once-a-year event means crazy demands on security, merchandise sellers, and food vendors.

Approximately 75,000 beers will be consumed at the stadium during the game, and 75,000 chicken tenders, 22,000 hot dogs and 12,000 pretzels.

Oracle (ORCL) is one of the many technology companies involved in handling these orders, and at Levi's Stadium, which opened two seasons ago touting itself as the best-connected stadium in the world, expectations are especially high that everything will work, from cell signal to mobile food-ordering to delivery at your seat.

"The last thing you want to do is miss part of the action because you're waiting in line to get something to eat," says Oracle's senior VP of hospitality, Mike Webster. "So our cloud infrastructure is a key component of how we deliver concessions." Oracle's onus during an event like this, Webster says, is "efficiently and conveniently delivering concessions during the event."

How does Oracle use the cloud to help make sure there are no problems? For one thing, if you order an item from your seat and the nearest stand is low or out of it, Oracle's system alerts the app to source the item from a different stand. Think of it like the Internet of Things -- all the devices, from your phone to the systems at each food stand -- are talking to each other. Oracle's system is in just over half of the NFL stadiums in America, and most of the hotels around the stadium also use Oracle's platform for their reservations.

But Levi's Stadium is a special case, and if you ask Webster, it's where all stadiums are eventually headed. The rest haven't caught up yet, but will have to, fast, because fans demand it. After all, as the at-home viewing experience gets better and better, it's more difficult to lure fans to attend a game in person. If they do, they expect zero inconveniences.

"Fans expect to be able to connect," Webster says. "Whether that's ordering concessions from their seats and having it delivered, purchasing merchandise, or even getting an Uber after the game. They expect everything to work." If the wireless network does get slow on Sunday, those watching at home may not hear about it until later, but stadium workers on the scene will be scrambling.

Just don't ask the Oracle executive about his own food plans for the game: he wouldn't divulge. Check out the video above for more.


Daniel Roberts is a writer at Yahoo Finance, covering sports business and technology. 

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