Daktronics, Alpha Video Help T-Mobile Arena Create Unique Las Vegas Entertainment Venue

Vegas’ first see-through display, high-tech control room among key components of Sin City’s new marquee attraction.

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Las Vegas has long been known as the entertainment capital of the world, so everyone knew when AEG and MGM Resorts International announced plans to open the $375 million T-Mobile Arena, it was going to be unique—and, of course, spectacular.

So it’s no surprise two of the biggest names in the integration world—Alpha Video and Audio and Daktronics—wanted to be part of the project. Daktronics installed 25 video displays around the 650,000-square-foot T-Mobile Arena and Las Vegas’ first see-through display outside the building and Alpha Video built T-Mobile Arena’s video replay control room and IPTV system to the space that, at the time, didn’t have a team ready to call it its permanent home.

Since T-Mobile Arena opened in April, the National Hockey League awarded an expansion team to Las Vegas starting with the 2017-2018 season. In the meantime, T-Mobile Arena will host about 150 events every year, including concerts, boxing, mixed martial arts, awards shows and special events such as visits from the Harlem Globetrotters, rodeo and other marquee attractions.

Four Daktronics displays fill the corners between the main displays of the center-hung scoreboard and measure 21 feet high by 6 feet wide. On the underside of the center-hung board, four displays measuring 7 feet high by 14 feet wide provide additional viewing opportunities for seats that are closer to the playing surface with supplemental content to the main displays.

“They didn’t hold back on much,” says Mark Johnson, regional sales manager for Daktronics. “That’s how they entertain people. They decided what they wanted and it was up to us to bring it to them.” This job means Daktronics equipment is now in about 75 percent of NBA arenas and about 80 percent of NHL stadiums.

Jeff Volk, VP of Alpha Video’s sports and entertainment group, says AEG and MGM upped their expectations in December in terms of what technology they wanted incorporated in the project. The shift from a more standard system to one that could handle an NHL or NBA tenant came in December, only 13 weeks before the deadline to complete the project. Typically, Alpha Video gets about 19 to 24 weeks for similar projects.

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Near the end of the project, AEG and MGM encouraged Alpha to complete their portion 10 days earlier than they were contractually obligated, and they complied.

“It’s probably the most aggressive timeline we’ve ever worked with,” says Volk. “Initially, the system was going to be small, but the changes they made required an acceleration of the entire process. We had to get it done.”

Two ribbon displays mounted to the seating fascia, four tunnel displays mounted above entrances to the seating area and six scorer’s tables positioned on the sidelines of the court provide opportunities to highlight sponsors throughout events as well as provide additional statistics and animations.

A trapezoid-shaped, freeform linear LED video wall on the exterior is the first see-through display in Las Vegas, covering 9,000 square feet and measuring approximately 43 feet high by 210 feet wide. Pixels have been placed 50 millimeters apart to provide a video solution for outside viewers while still allowing those inside the building to see out through the display.

Due to the trapezoid shape, this exterior display requires an advanced control solution to maximize the unique aspect ratio. To accomplish this, Daktronics has introduced the new 6000 Series Display Interface with proprietary Pure Pixel Processing (P3) technology, which provides efficient control and vibrant color reproduction.

Before AEG and MGM brought Daktronics on board, they visited Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Madison Square Garden and other arenas with Daktronics equipment to get an idea of what they might want in T-Mobile Arena.

“The gamble paid off,” says Johnson with a nod to the casino-lined Las Vegas Strip, continuing a relationship that goes back a decade. Daktronics’ work started in November 2015 in anticipation of the soft launch April 6.

The main challenge, says Daktronics senior project manager Luke Tingle, was limited parking in and around the area, between the New York New York and Monte Carlo hotels. He’s excited, though, about the Toshiba Plaza outside the arena, an area with a stage set up for live music that is the appetizer to the entertainment zone. Inside the arena, the club area at the top of the building creates triangle-shaped peaks that look down on the arena. It’s a model Tingle expects other facilities to follow in the future.

Although Alpha Video has done many digital signage and IPTV installations with other companies in Vegas, this was their first time working with MGM.

“It was a strategic way for us to increase our presence,” says Volk. “The ultimate benefit is it continues our position as one of the two or three best sports system integrators in the world. It attaches us to a marquee property in a marquee location. It’s a piece in what we hope will be more work in the western part of the U.S. There’s a lot of opportunity in that area.”

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Although Volk didn’t know T-Mobile Arena would soon be home to an NHL team when Alpha Video got involved, “everyone had a sense this could be something big.” Alpha Video has installed systems in historic sports venues such as Fenway Park in Boston and Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisc., plus unique spots such as Marlins Park in Miami. He sees T-Mobile Arena as another example of a project that has “intangible marketing value.”

“One of our challenges with these kinds of projects is to continue to meet the demand of increased expectations, shorter deadlines and smaller budgets,” says Volk.

Here’s a look at some of the cool technology inside and outside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas: