Integrators are starting to see an uptick in outfitting large venues for today’s hybrid needs, such as being able to remotely control systems over IP.
As people were forced to stay home for over a year, nowadays, “Everybody wants to get back out and see live events,” said Malik Khan, SVP of Projects and Integration at ANC.
“The challenge of actually getting spectators into the arenas and to their seats will become less of a challenge. The games are what the fans come to see,” said Khan, “but it’s about creating a bond between the team, the brand, and the fan; you do that by getting the hairs on the back of their necks to stand up before the game, during halftime, and getting them engaged, whether that’s through side games, or a show entertainment piece. We’re seeing that carry over to the concourse areas as well,” said Khan.
Installing during COVID-19 & Delivery Delays
Over the pandemic, the ANC team installed full color videoboards, an electronic alphanumeric scoreboard, and a pair of LED matrix boards behind first and third base at the new Polar Park venue in Worcester, Mass., the new home of the Triple-A-Affiliate team, Worcester Red Sox (Woo Sox).
“We put in what’s probably almost record time installation of screen and software,” said Khan. ”It was a difficult time just with everything going on in the world with COVID, delays with construction material, component delays across the board; it was difficult to find glass.”
Even through all the delays, Khan recalls it was a constant exercise in coordination between all the trades. “Everyone was being flexible, moving along, changing, and adjusting as needed to let everyone get the work done in time, so that we could have a successful opening for the Woo Sox’s.”
ANC was very fortunate to have most of their equipment and product in quickly. Working with a manufacturer early in the design of the product helped.
The Videoboards & Technology
“What’s most important in these types of applications, is not just that it looks good, but also you can fix it if something happens,” said Khan. “It’s technology, everything breaks, so it’s important that you’re able to fix it even if something breaks the day of the game, you never want to put fans or people in danger in harm’s way. You want to be able to fix it, make it look the best, and deliver on what the team’s requirements are for advertising.”
The LEDs for videoboard displays age at different rates. “The different bins and batches are produced at different times, so they actually produce different colors,” said Kahn. “It’s important to make sure that you can actually match the LEDs old and new. Whether that’s through software, whether that’s through hardware technology, and that you have the ability; as they age, as the technology changes, to continue to improve on that and match those, so that you don’t have these massive differences, not only in brightness, but also in colors.”
Matching that “Fenway green” color is a perfect example — and an important one. “Sponsors obviously care about their color, so making sure that you have the technology, the ability to do that hardware and software is pretty important now,” said Khan.
Creating Experiences Outside The Bowl
Khan recommends large venue integrators shouldn’t just focus on creating a great presentation solely in the bowl.
“When the fans come in 2-3 hours before the game, and they want to hang out around the concourse, around one of the bars…create a meaningful mini arena experiential experience whether that be through video screens… mixing technologies and software in the IP TV solutions.”
The video production must be seamless throughout.
Large venue Integrators should bring an experience to the fans that is beyond just the game itself. Make it so that fans can “enjoy it without having to sit in a seat the entire time, you can still see stuff while you’re heading to the bathroom, grabbing a drink, or if you want to not sit in seat, and watch the game, you can go hang at the bar with a buddy for an hour or at intermission,” said Khan.