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Wi-Fi is coming to Rogers Centre

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Soon you can compulsively check the comments on Bluebird Banter without incurring data costs! Yay!

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Spo

An oft-repeated joke around these parts is that the Rogers-owned Blue Jays should go find a big telecommunications company to get Wi-Fi installed at the Rogers-owned Rogers Centre. It looks like joke might become old soon as there are signs that Wi-Fi will be arriving to the dome for the 2015 season.

Bluebird Banter has recently learned that an announcement regarding increased access to Wi-Fi at the Rogers Centre will be forthcoming.

During State of the Franchise event last Thursday evening, a password-free Wi-Fi network with the SSID "ROGERS WiFi Public"  was made available. Internet access was granted after connection, no additional sign-in step was required. According to a fan on Twitter, the network was already enabled back in mid-January for a monster truck show.

The home of the Blue Jays is one of the nine Major League Baseball stadiums that have yet to provide free public Wi-Fi to all fans in attendance (both the Jays and the Yankees provide free Wi-Fi in certain premium areas), according to a June 2014 study completed by Mobile Sports Report.

Team Free Wi-Fi? Team Free Wi-Fi?
Angels Yes Red Sox Yes
Astros Yes Reds Yes
Athletics Yes Rockies Yes
Braves Yes Twins Yes
Cubs Yes White Sox Yes
Diamondbacks Yes Blue Jays No
Dodgers Yes Brewers No
Giants Yes Cardinals No
Indians Yes Mariners No
Marlins Yes Orioles No
Mets Yes Pirates No
Nationals Yes Rangers No
Padres Yes Royals Yes*
Philiies Yes Tigers No
Rays Yes Yankees No

* The Royals were listed as "No" for the report but started to provide Wi-Fi at Kauffman Stadium in time for the postseason.

Although some sort of expanded Wi-Fi at Rogers Centre is coming, it is still not known whether the Rogers Centre Wi-Fi network will be accessible to all fans throughout the entire stadium. That had led to some speculation that the Wi-FI will be restricted to particular locations or that it will only be accessible to customers of Rogers' other entities.

What is known is that Major League Baseball is pushing the laggards to catch up and enable free internet access at their stadiums. MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) is finally understanding that getting fans to post tweets, Vines, Instagrams, and Facebook statuses talking about going to baseball games is a good way of getting free publicity that is targeted mainly towards the younger generation. Bob Bowman, the CEO of MLBAM, announced last October that his aim is to get Wi-Fi into all stadiums by Opening Day 2015.

It has also been reported that MLBAM "has some skin in the game," meaning that it is likely they are kicking in some amount of money to help encourage clubs to get this done.

The arrival of Wi-Fi at Rogers Centre should come hand-in-hand with the MLB.com Ballpark app north of the border. The smart phone app allows fans to store digital tickets, log the games they've been to, find concession stands, win prizes, share stuff on social media, and of course, receive advertisement. In select ballparks, you are even able to order food and drinks from the app and get it delivered to your seat! What a time to be alive.

Those who have visited an airport lately would already know that the availability of free Wi-Fi does not guarantee a stable, fast Internet connection. Fans may get a decent connection during April mid-week games, but staying connected may be a problem when 40,000 phones are trying to log on at once. Not all Wi-Fi-enabled stadiums have revealed the number of Wi-Fi access points they have installed, but it ranges from AT&T Park's 1,289 down to Marlins Park's 254. (Although, to be fair to the Marlins their access point-to-fan ratio is around the same as the Giants.)

Although the installation of Wi-Fi at Rogers Centre is happening 11 years after AT&T Park became the first park to give fans free connectivity, this is still good news for Blue Jays fans. As they say, better late than never.