ASP, Point

By Edward Cone  |  Posted 2003-10-16 Print this article Print

-of-Sale and Arena Operations Unified"> Application service provider InfoGenesis runs the point-of-sale system for concessions and merchandise, which was built using software from vendor Eatec. All 840 registers at concession stands, restaurants, stores and bars use the high-end system sophisticated enough to be used at some Las Vegas casino hotels.

"It lets us process a large number of credit-card transactions, very fast," says Rick McConathy, assistant controller for food and beverage with Sportservice, the company that handles arena operations. Credit-card purchases take only three seconds or so, because an always-on Internet connection to InfoGenesis San Jose, Calif., facility eliminates the time needed to dial up and start processing.

The system tracks clothing sales and stock; by enabling improved forecasting for particular games, it has also helped reduce beverage inventories by 50 percent. "With two years of data, we now know with pretty tight precision what we will sell on a given night," says Bonzon. "We can better plan our purchases. The end result is a huge decrease in onsite inventory." Managers can see during the course of a game which concession stands are busy and which ones can be closed early to cut labor costs.

Technology also supports the Mavs on the court. Coach Don Nelson and his staff run the show on the floor, but Bonzon and Cuban provide their tools. The Mavs have 10 assistant coaches—most teams hire three or four—and each has a laptop and handheld. Game film is streamed over the Web for coaches to view on the road or at home, and everyone can communicate by e-mail with Cuban, who corresponds tirelessly with fans and journalists.

A digital content management system developed in-house matches game footage with the precise, to-the-minute statistics provided for every play of every game by the NBA. The searchable database allows coaches to view, say, every Steve Nash assist or Dirk Nowitski three-pointer from last season, with an eye toward divining the effectiveness of particular plays and combinations of players in different game situations.

This summer, forward Raef Lafrentz requested a CD of every foul he committed during the 2002-2003 season, and got it two hours later. It should give him a better sense of the situations in which he draws the referees whistle.

Cuban also runs a computer model devised with statistics professors from Indiana University to rate players like forward Antawn Jamison, for whom the Mavs traded this summer. "It allows me to review a player much more quickly and easily than having to chase down tapes for everyone," Cuban says.

Last season, Mavs coaches started using handheld computers to track the performance of each referee in every one of their games. "We can look at trends, see who favors a given team, who calls more three-second violations, and tell the players before games," says Bonzon. The system also gives Cuban, the NBAs career leader in fines meted out for criticizing refs, a database of statistics to back him up in his ongoing battle with league commissioner David Stern.

Another program now under development for use on handheld devices will log different offensive and defensive scheme used against the Mavs, including stats not provided by the league, such as how often the team scores against a 2-3 zone. That will let coaches make adjustments on the floor based on statistics from previous games.

The video production room in the bowels of the arena is crammed with equipment. Bonzon calls the huge display screens above the court "the worlds largest TiVo," because Cuban can order up a fan-pleasing replay with a wave of his hand. Management even swaps out commercials during the broadcasts of games shown on concourse televisions for spots the team has sold, bringing additional revenue to Cuban and his partners.

A palatial locker room, hard by the full-size practice gym, boasts flat-screen TVs, game systems, and DVD players for each player. Everyone on the roster gets a laptop and is free to communicate at will with Cuban. There are non-tech perks, too, like the tricked-out Boeing 757 jet, complete with individual monitors at each seat and laptop ports, which Cuban bought to ferry his team to road games.

Increased revenues and pampered players dont necessarily translate into more wins, but the Mavericks transition from low tech to high tech has coincided with their emergence as championship contenders. Last years 60-22 record was the franchises best ever, and Dallas went deep into the playoffs, reaching the Western Conference finals before falling to eventual NBA champion San Antonio. All of which makes Bonzons job easier.

Next page: Mavericks Base Case.

Senior Writer and author of the Know It All blog

Ed Cone has worked as a contributing editor at Wired, a staff writer at Forbes, a senior writer for Ziff Davis with Baseline and Interactive Week, and as a freelancer based in Paris and then North Carolina for a wide variety of magazines and papers including the International Herald Tribune, Texas Monthly, and Playboy. He writes an opinion column in his hometown paper, the Greensboro News & Record, and publishes the semi-popular weblog. He lives in North Carolina with his wife, Lisa, two kids, and a dog.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel