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On any given day, you might find the floor of the Chesapeake Energy Arena covered in two feet of dirt (for professional bull riding), or a concert stage (for top music artists like Carrie Underwood and Paul McCartney), or a hardwood court (for the resident Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team).
The 581,000 square foot stadium is located in downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The arena has a capacity of approximately 19,000. Christopher Nelson is the Manager, Information Technology for SMG OKC, which manages the arena and the 100,000 sq. ft. convention center across the street for the City of Oklahoma City. When Nelson joined five years ago, the arena had Aruba access points (APs) at gates for ticket scanning. There was no Wi-Fi for fans or staff. They had a Cisco wired network, but the capacity of the Cisco switches was too low and support costs too high.
Many companies require network services in the arena, including the Thunder’s management, the food and beverage distributors, and Ticketmaster. “Our stakeholders had so many constraints and limitations because we didn’t have the right infrastructure in place,” says Nelson. “We had to get ahead of the game.”