Ranging from giant LED displays over the pitch to smaller HD screens in concourses, they are being used not only to show games and scores, but also digital signage content such as advertising, information and sponsor branding.
For displays visible during an event, size and clarity are all-important in involving fans. For example, the Borussia Dortmund stadium in Germany has installed four new video screens from Daktronics, with a total area of 160 square meters. With one located in each corner of the arena, they are typical of the kind of giant screens now being used to give fans an up-close connection with sporting events even in the largest venues.
Using 16mm LED technology, they replace two older Daktronics ProStar screens that had been in place for 13 years. “The 16mm is the perfect resolution for the fans to be able to connect to the content during the match,” said Christopher Backhaus, project manager for Daktronics. The Dortmund facility also has a slightly smaller screen on the facade of the north stand.
Over the border in Poland, meanwhile, the PGE Arena in Gdansk also opted for Daktronics when installing a new video scoring system. In this case, slightly different from the Dortmund configuration, four 20mm LED displays are installed above the stands.
“Images, live and recorded video presented on the large LED video displays during soccer championships bring the fans closer to the game. To create more excitement, we chose the world’s leading provider of full-colour LED video displays,” said Zbigniew Klonowski, chairman of integrator Trias, which worked on the project.
“The large LED video displays are, for fans, almost as important as soccer players,” agreed Micha? Kruszynski of BIEG, the stadium developer.
But it is not only in the arena itself that digital display technologies are enhancing the sporting experience and enabling fast, flexible communications between management and visitors. At VfB Stuttgart’s Mercedes-Benz Arena, for example, a new installation includes more than 100 LCD screens in the business boxes, and digital signage in public areas. When there’s no match, the video infrastructure can also be used for training, conferences and workshops hosted by the venue.
Digital menu boards are also becoming popular at arenas’ food and beverage outlets. They allow menus and prices to be updated instantly, for example to promote hot drinks on an unexpectedly cold day, or to adjust the food offering to match the differing demographics of the crowd at each event. The same outlet can even be instantly re-branded using digital displays, perhaps acting as a pizza stand one day and an ice cream booth the next. Allied with screens in other areas of the venue promoting the food and beverage propositions, promotions on digital menu boards can create significant sales uplift.
Given the scale of major stadia, however, large rollouts of screens represent significant investments. The Texas Rangers’ Ballpark arena at Arlington, Texas, for example, last year spent $17m to provide HD digital content throughout the facility. So venue operators and suppliers alike stress that it’s important to explore not just the technology options, but also the numerous ways that ROI can be achieved, ranging from reductions in print costs to advertising revenue.
For European stadia, a first step could be to see what’s on offer at a major trade show such as Screenmedia expo 2012, which runs 16-17 May at Earls Court in London. It’s an opportunity to examine products in action, to talk with vendors and integrators, and to put the screen revolution in context through the free learning programme.
More information at http://screenevents.co.uk/screenexpo2012/