NFL teams are playing their second full week of games for the 2016 season, but the big news for those who care more about technology than football is the debut of new end zone video boards and the first regular-season game in the new home of the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings will welcome their longtime rivals, the Green Bay Packers, to U.S. Bank Stadium, for a Sunday night clash that will get the NFL spotlight all to itself on NBC. We’re guessing the broadcast team will spend at least some of its time talking about all the cool technology in the stadium and not just focus on the action on the field.
Among the 18 displays around the stadium that team officials say give the Vikings the most total square footage of 13HD LED displays in the league, Daktronics designed and built a 13HD LED video board that sits low in the west end zone and measures 8,100 square feet.
The main display is 68 feet high and 120 feet wide and features two 43- x 15-foot wing displays. Those smaller displays can either supplement the main display or be joined to the main display to show one large image. A 9- x 64-foot “skirt” display at field level provides additional graphic and sponsorship opportunities.
In the east end zone, there’s a 50-foot-high, 88-foot-wide video board with 25-x-15-foot wing displays on each side. Three ribbon boards circle the bowl: a 3.5- x 1,550-foot display on the upper concourse, a 2.5- x 1,475-foot one on the club level and a 5- x 225-foot one on the press level.
Alpha Video & Audio helped Vikings Entertainment Network, the team’s video production arm, outfit a video-control room that was technologically advanced enough to handle the stadium’s video needs and big enough for about 50 people. The finished project is a hybrid of IP and baseband technologies that support 4K content capture and 1080p output to the video displays.
The Vikings now have eight in-game Sony HDC-4300 cameras that will operate in 4K, they can be routed to the StadiumVision network or to other places, according to Alpha Video VP Jeff Volk.
Daktronics also outfitted Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Hard Rock Stadium, the newly named home of the Miami Dolphins, with new video boards and was part of installations at seven NFL stadiums in total, adding smaller displays at the homes of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans, San Francisco 49ers and Super Bowl 50 champion Denver Broncos.
The seven installations included 43 displays and more than 97,500 square feet of screens.
When the Bucs host the Los Angeles Rams Sept. 25, they’ll show off 14 displays totaling more than 39,000 square feet of LED space and more than 23 million LEDs at Raymond James Stadium. The team has worked with Daktronics since 1998.
Two new main video displays, one in each end zone, measure 60 feet high by 160 feet wide for 9,600 square feet each. Four tower displays, one in each corner of the stadium, measure approximately 61 feet high by 43 feet wide for 2,304 square feet each. The total display area of 28,416 square feet is third-largest in professional football.
Each of the boards is capable of variable content zoning, allowing them to show one large image or to show multiple windows with live video, instant replays, up-to-the-minute statistics, game information, graphics, animations and sponsorship messages.
The boards at Hard Rock Stadium will also be all four corners of the stadium and will be the largest boards in any of the AFC East stadiums. The Dolphins’ first home game this season will be Sept. 25 vs. the Cleveland Browns.
The New Orleans Saints added more than 20,000 square feet of video displays on the field level, including two 333-foot-wide, 38-foot-tall end zone video boards, part of a $25 million overhaul of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The Jaguars outfitted the newly renovated US Assure Clubs inside EverBank Field with six NanoLumens 2.5MM NanoSlim Engage displays across both the east and west US Assure Clubs, including a screen in each lower club area measuring 19 feet by 11 feet.
The displays in the Jaguars’ club area come two years after the team unveiled the world’s largest video boards for the 2014 season.
Video boards aren’t the only cool technology at NFL stadiums this season though. The NFC champion Carolina Panthers are one of few NFL teams to own its own broadcasting network, the Panthers Radio Network, which broadcasts gameday programming, a post-game show and a variety of special programs. Selected programs are also streamed on the team’s website.
Panthers broadcasts are mixed on an Allen & Heath Qu-16 digital mixer, which also travels with the team to away games and was there to watch the Panthers lose the Super Bowl in February at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.
During broadcasts, a Qu-16 mix feeds the studio and another goes to the Spanish-language broadcaster. Additional Qu-16 outputs feed local monitor mixes. An Allen & Heath ME-1 personal mixer with Lectrosonics wireless transmitter and receiver enables a custom monitor mix for the producer as he wanders around the booth and into the stadium.
The Qu-16’s Qu-Drive feature provides a multi-track recording of Panthers’ games and its two-track output feeds a pair of Sony PCM recorders. Staffers use the Qu-16’s compression and EQ on selected microphones and save the entire Qu-16 configuration to a USB thumb drive as a backup.