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NFL stadiums must raise bar to lure average fan

The Tennessee Titans have taken a huge step -- quite literally -- to enhance their in-stadium experience, installing two end-zone screens measuring 157 feet long by 54 feet high at LP Field.

When completed, they will be the longest video boards at any outdoor stadium in the world, bested in size only by the behemoth at Jerry's World in Dallas. The team's intent is clear: At a time when the in-home options of the average NFL fan continue to grow and improve, NFL stadiums must step up their game to get fans off the couch.

Titans executive vice president Don MacLachlan didn't even bother to sugarcoat his team's intentions in an interview with The Associated Press this month.

Said MacLachlan: "We are certainly making it our top priority to keep fans coming and have a great time and give them reason to come to LP Field as opposed to staying at home and watching it on high-definition television."

Of course, it's not just about the high-definition TVs, although that technology has jumped tenfold in the past decade. Why should the Joe Football Fan (not an actual person) buy an expensive game ticket, get swindled at the parking lot, pay $9 for a beer and potentially be punched by an angry Raiders fan when he can sit on his couch in a temperature-controlled room, follow the whole league with the "Sunday Ticket" package, munch on wings from his favorite diner and follow his fantasy team on his laptop?

Obviously there are elements of the live sporting event that cannot be replicated, and thousands of diehards view attending home games as their version of church. But the challenge remains very real for NFL teams.

The Titans will pay $26.8 million to complete the installation project. A hefty price tag, no doubt, but the franchise is smart. Sports fans have never had more options -- it's time NFL teams raise the ante.

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