DIGITAL DISPLAYS AT U.S. BANK STADIUM CREATE
A FINAL FORCE
MASSIVE NEW LED DISPLAY AT ORACLE PARK MALL OF AMERICAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S DIGITAL DISPLAY DIRECTORIES A HIT mobilesportsreport.com
Welcome to the second issue of our new VENUE DISPLAY REPORT series, part of our STADIUM TECH REPORTS empire! These quarterly long-form reports are designed to give stadium and large public venue owners and operators, and digital sports business executives a way to dig deep into the topic of digital display technology, via exclusive research and profiles of successful stadium and large public venue display technology deployments, as well as news and analysis of topics important to this growing market. As venues seek to improve fan engagement and increase sponsor activation, display technology offers powerful new ways to improve the in-stadium fan experience while also increasing the bottom line for stadium business operations. Read on as we examine not just new display technology and successful deployments, but also dig deep into how display technologies can support successful marketing and advertising campaigns! Our profiles for this issue include an in-depth report on how U.S. Bank Stadium relied on the Cisco Vision display management system during this year’s NCAA men’s Final Four tournament, a hands-on look at the unique digital display directory screens at the Mall of America, and a report on the San Francisco Giants’ new big video board at Oracle Park. As always, we are here to hear what you have to say: Send me an email to email@example.com and let us know what you think of our new VENUE DISPLAY REPORT series.
Paul Kapustka, Founder & Editor Mobile Sports Report
IN THIS ISSUE: CISCO VISION AT U.S. BANK STADIUM FINAL FOUR Page 4 ORACLE PARK GOES BIG WITH MITSUBISHI LED BOARD Page 10 MALL OF AMERICA’S DIGITAL DISPLAY DIRECTORIES Page 15
VENUE DISPLAY REPORT
CISCO VISION POWERS DISPLAYS FOR
FINAL FOUR AT U.S. BANK STADIUM BY PAUL KAPUSTKA
WHAT’S ONE OF THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCES BETWEEN VIKINGS GAMES OR A SUPER BOWL AND THE FINAL FOUR AT U.S. BANK STADIUM? HOW ABOUT THE HUGE CENTER-HUNG VIDEO SCOREBOARD FLOATING OVER THE COURT?
n visiting U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis for the NCAA men’s 2019 Final Four, the multi-paneled video display above the basketball floor was easily the most visible “new” thing from a technology perspective. Yet even with its multiple video screens and a cool under-the-scoreboard projection system that used the court itself as the screen, the center-hung display was only part of a wide-ranging use of digital display technology that kept fans and media entertained and informed during the long hoops-centric weekend. “There are a lot more moving parts to a Final Four than to a Super Bowl,” said David Kingsbury, director of IT for U.S. Bank Stadium, whose venue hosted Super Bowl 52 in 2018. Some of those moving parts are related to the fact that there are more people in the stadium for basketball, in the temporary seating that extends from where the football field sidelines end to the smaller basketball court perimeter. The venue -- which saw 67,612 in attendance for Super Bowl 52 but had crowds in excess of 72,000 for both the Saturday and Monday games at this year’s Final Four -- partnered with AmpThink to design and deploy a temporary addition to the stadium’s Wi-Fi network (also originally designed by AmpThink) that included an extra 250 Wi-Fi APs to cover the temporary seating areas on all four sides of the court. Facing page: The temporary center-hung display got a workout during the Final Four weekend. This page, clockwise from top: The tourney logo; the Viking-ship display counts down the time to tip-off; a DMP powers a media TV display at courtside. Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, VDR
VENUE DISPLAY REPORT
Top: Multi-panel displays can mix live video and messaging via the Cisco Vision system. Below: Displays command attention at a upper-level concourse bar.
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THE CENTER-HUNG DISPLAY IS ONLY PART OF A WIDE-RANGING USE OF DIGITAL DISPLAY TECHNOLOGY THAT KEPT FANS AND MEDIA ENTERTAINED AND INFORMED DURING THE FINAL FOUR WEEKEND.
Clockwise from top left: Social media posts from fans were part of the display show; menu boards underwent many changes for the special event; displays can be used to replace static branding signs; the Final Four set attendance records for the venue, topping Super Bowl 52. Cisco Vision Plus powers courtside TV monitors for media
While fans at the games made great use of the Wi-Fi network -- over the weekend the venue saw 31.2 terabytes of Wi-Fi data used, with 17.8 TB of that coming during the Saturday semifinals -- AmpThink helped U.S. Bank Stadium make sure the hundreds of media members also stayed connected, installing HDMI cables and 90 digital media players (DMPs) for courtside TV monitors. With the Cisco Vision Plus version of Cisco’s IPTV display management system already in use stadium-wide, Kingsbury and his staff were able to provide complete channel control to the courtside TVs, no small feat for a network that basically doesn’t exist at any other time at U.S. Bank Stadium. “The media coverage is really challenging because that’s in places like the middle of the floor that we really don’t ever otherwise use,” Kingsbury said. For the rest of the stadium and its nearby surroundings, the 2,200 screens that are served by the Cisco Vision 8
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IPTV display management system got a weekend-long workout with numerous new scripts and display information geared specifically for the Final Four attendees. Since almost every fan in attendance was likely visiting U.S. Bank Stadium for the first time, a heavy emphasis was placed on directional digital messaging, especially on the displays outside the stadium and in nearby places like the Minneapolis Skyway, the system of enclosed, second level bridges that connects many downtown buildings. The Cisco Vision system also manages displays on the stadium concourses, as well as in suites and clubs, Kingsbury said. Inside the venue, another new twist for the NCAA was that for the first time ever, the Final Four was allowing the venue to sell alcoholic beverages -- which meant a new mix of menu board options and pricings, also powered by the Cisco Vision system. According to Kingsbury, the Cisco Vision system “offers us a ton of options” and also ease of use since the stadium’s caterer, Aramark, can interface directly with the system to change prices and other information. VDR
Multi-panel displays can use animation to attract attention
Menu boards can show a mix of live action as well as animated menu items
VENUE DISPLAY REPORT
BIGGER IS BETTER FOR GIANTS MASSIVE NEW LED BOARD AT SAN FRANCISCOâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S ORACLE PARK BY PAUL KAPUSTKA
Facing page: The new scoreboard in all its glory. Credit: San Francisco Giants. This page: A field-level look at the previous video board and static signage, circa 2015. Credit: Paul Kapustka, VDR
hen it comes time for a stadium to replace its main video board, the rule of thumb almost always is that bigger is better.
The San Francisco Giants certainly think so, as the team replaced its main outfield display this season with a new screen that is three and a half times bigger, and a lot sharper than the previous technology.
LED board from Mitsubishi, with a 10 mm pixel pitch and resolution of 2,160 x 4,672, dense enough to support 4K content when it becomes available. The new board stretches to fill the space between two light towers in centerfield, replacing a previous arrangement of a smaller board surrounded by a batch of static display signs, an arrangement that was part of the internal controversy, according to Schlough. Is digital always better?
Though he said it wasn’t a slam-dunk decision internally, Giants senior vice president and chief information officer Bill Schlough said the team eventually went with as big a screen as the park’s existing infrastructure allowed, with improving the fan experience as the main driver.
“It was an incredibly controversial topic inside the organization,” said Schlough of the debate about how big the Giants’ new screen should be. Though conventional wisdom says that digital signage can produce greater revenue than fixed signage due to its ability to change on demand, Schlough said that some salespeople and sponsors still like the permanence of a fixed display.
What fans at the newly renamed Oracle Park are looking at this season is a 71-foot high, 153-foot wide
“When you are selling sponsorships there are pros and cons for each method,” Schlough said. “With digital VENUE DISPLAY REPORT
Construction of the new video board included extending infrastructure higher, and adding static signs on the light towers. Credit: San Francisco Giants
you can have moments of exclusivity, where one sponsor can take over all the signage, and you can animate to capture the attention of fans.” But the cons of digital signs include the fact that they can be turned off, a fact that may make a signage sponsor less willing to commit if it knows its message may be blanked out -- as opposed to a static sign, which can’t be changed. According to Schlough the debate about the size of the new board was one of the most contentious technology decisions he’s seen during his 20-year career at the Giants, with only the team’s then-controversial decision to put Wi-Fi APs under seats (in 2013) coming close. In the end the bigger-is-better side won out, in what Schlough said is part a nod to everyday experience with TVs as well as a hedge against the fact that stadium video screens often stay in place for many years. “When’s the last time you came home with a TV from Best Buy and said, ‘it’s too big’ ?” Schlough joked. 12
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On the more serious side, he did note that the Giants’ previous screen had lasted for 12 years -- going from being just the third high-definition screen in all of Major League Baseball when it was installed to being the fifth-smallest and second-oldest in MLB by last season. “You don’t get that many bites at the apple, and if you’re only making this kind of an investment every 10 years, there’s no way you can go too big,” Schlough said. The new board is now the third-largest in MLB, behind only Cleveland and Seattle. The team did seem to compromise for the fixed-sign contingent, adding more static display spots mounted to the light tower structures for this season. The new board also forced the Giants to replace an analog clock, installing a digital version a bit higher above the new board. More stats, and 4K to come
In researching technology for its new $10 million investment, Schlough said the Giants went around to a host of other stadiums that had recently replaced their video boards, including the University of Nebraska’s
Left: Giants CIO Bill Schlough literally overlooks the board construction; Right: The new board gets a preseason workout by showing some hoops. Credit video and photos: San Francisco Giants
Memorial Stadium, the Baltimore Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium, and the Colorado Rockies’ Coors Field, among others. After looking at display technology from all the leading vendors, Schlough said the Giants stuck with longtime “great partner” Mitsubishi, who had provided the screen the Giants installed in 2007, which replaced an older board that was present when the venue opened in 2000.
everything we’re looking at ourselves,’ so we’re putting up as much as we can.”
With all the new space to play with, the Giants are already finding new things to show on the board, including a much longer list of statistics.
So far, Schlough said, fan response has been “awesome” in support of the new screen, making it clear that people in the seats agree that a bigger screen was a great choice.
“It’s not just batting averages anymore, fans today want all the new things like launch velocity,” Schlough said. “Our baseball analytics team said ‘let’s give fans
In the future, Schlough forsees the Giants showing 4K resolution content, which has not yet arrived for stadiums on the production side -- but knowing that it someday will, he’s happy that the team has “future proofed” its main display for when 4K content arrives.
“In the end the fans won,” Schlough said. VDR VENUE DISPLAY REPORT
IPTV & DIGITAL SIGNAGE SOLUTION FOR SPORTS VENUES ALL-IN-ONE SOLUTION, INCLUDING VIDEO WALLS EASILY MANAGE AND DISTRIBUTE IN-HOUSE IPTV CONTENT ENGAGE PREMIUM FANS WITH IMMERSIVE VIDEO ENHANCE VALUE OF LIVE EXPERIENCE WITH MOBILE APP EZ TV PLATFORM BUILT TO SUPPORT REVENUE GROWTH HIGHLY RELIABLE 100% HARDWARE END POINTS ZERO MAINTENANCE OR RECURRING LICENSE COSTS
SMALL DIRECTORY SCREENS DO BIG JOB AT
MALL OF AMERICA BY PAUL KAPUSTKA
Finding your way around the Mall of America’s maze of stores, restaurants and attractions can be challenging, an issue the digital display directories attempt to solve. Credit all photos: Paul Kapustka, VDR
ith hundreds of stores, shops and restaurants – and an embedded amusement park – being big only starts to describe the breadth of the Mall of America. Yet to help guests find what they are looking for and to find their way around the 5.6 million square-foot property, the Mall went small with its digital-display directories, a winning move that has produced more than 10 million interactions since going fully live just more than a year ago. Once upon a time, the Bloomington, Minn.-based Mall of America was no different from any other shopping mall when it came to directories. In what was somewhat of a shopping center tradition, the Mall of America had four-sided standalone structures with fourfoot wide printed displays, crammed with maps and lists of locations. While big, printed directories may have been the way malls always did things, they didn’t fit in with the Mall of America’s recent moves to embrace digital technology to improve the guest experience. 16
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“Those old directories were monstrosities, and they were obsolete the moment you printed them,” said Janette Smrcka, information technology director for the Mall of America. During a recent visit by Venue Display Report to the Mall, Smrcka said attempts to put granular information on the printed maps – like stacked graphics showing the multiple floor levels close together – produced a mostly frustrating experience for guests. “You had to walk around these things, and it was really difficult to find anything, because there are so many stores,” Smrcka said. “And the maps were kind of information overload. We found guests didn’t react well to them.” Going digital for directories
For the technology-forward Mall of America – which installed a high-definition Wi-Fi network throughout the property a few years ago – digital touch-screen directories seemed a logical next step ahead. According to Smrcka, the generational shift to embrace more touchscreen devices like phones and tablets, and the emergence
Clockwise from top: A look at how the wayfinding provides live walking directions; the screen also shows expected travel times; the main directory screen attempts to surface the most-searched topics, like â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;nearest restroomâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;.
Directory stations in the mall are marked by thin but easily identifiable posts
of similar devices in many public places like airports and restaurants has produced a public that is far more comfortable with touching a display. “Five or 10 years ago a touchscreen directory might have been too soon, but now very few people are hesitant [to use touchscreens],” Smrcka said. “Everything is a touchscreen, and people expect it. Everyone feels comfortable [using them].” An important caveat for Mall of America, Smrcka said, was finding a way to make the mall directory experience more personal and private, like using an ATM. “We always knew we wanted the screens to be smaller,” Smrcka said. Some other shopping centers that the Mall of America team had scouted had larger interactive displays, which Smrcka said could produce a “creepy” feeling since personal searches could potentially be viewed by people walking by. “We felt like we wanted the screens to be a size where your body could be a shield,” Smrcka said. “Nobody needs to know what I’m looking for.” 18
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As part of its deployment strategy, the Mall of America followed its agile development ethos and rolled out a small number of test units live in the Mall in late 2016. The displays, about the size of an iMac desktop screen tilted vertically, are from Aopen, and use a Chromebox commercial base for the operating system. A local Minneapolis-area wayfinding solutions firm, Express Image, provided the programming, and without much fanfare, the Mall flipped the switch and let its guests interact with the devices to see what happened. Reducing search times to under a minute
“We didn’t exactly stalk people, but we did watch them [using the directories],” Smrcka said. Though some of the features enabled by the devices – like a search field – were obvious adds, exposing other services like maps and wayfinding weren’t as straightforward. “There is a real problem of how do you logistically show 5 million square feet,” Smrcka said. After watching users interact, the Mall of America has currently settled on a 2D mapping feature that can, if users choose it, show an animated path from where they are to where their desired destination is.
Display stations are located throughout the mall in logical, high traffic places.
Left: A directory near a mall entryway provides a quick way to help find what you’re looking for; Right: An Auburn fan in town for the Final Four takes a spin on the displays.
“The focus is how quickly can we help guests find what they are looking for,” Smrcka said. After pulling the trigger to roll out 100 of the directories in mid-2017, the Mall’s IT team was rewarded with extensive usage analytics, which they put into an immediate feedback loop to improve the directories’ feature list and what was shown to users first. “By far, the number one search was for restrooms,” Smrcka said. The Mall took that information and now has a prominent button on the main screen that will quickly show users the closest restrooms to that spot. “There’s nothing like that immediate need,” Smrcka said. “That was a quick win.”
nalyzing more of the data helps the Mall’s IT team do a better job of predicting what users are looking for when they misspell store names, or if users are having difficulty with directions. According to Smrcka some data analysis showed that one physical location of a set of directories was causing confusion since “people told to take a left turn ended up inside a Cinnabon.” Moving the directories around the nearby corner helped improve the directions feature, she said. 20
VENUE DISPLAY REPORT SPRING 2019
The problem of how to show directions to places on different levels of the mall was solved by having a different screen for each level; the animated directions will even advance the pathways up and down escalators or stairways. Srmcka is also proud of the Mall’s desire to make information as real-time as possible; that effort includes a kind of “mall hack” where cheap power meters feed information into the directory system to let guests know if, say, an escalator is temporarily out of service. “Little things like that make a big difference,” said Smrcka. In a casual mall walkaround, VDR observed many guests taking turns at the numerous directory locations, seeming to find what they need quickly without any obvious confusion. According to Smrcka, the directories have now logged more than 10 million interactions, with the average interaction time at 38.98 seconds. Some features in the directories, like the ability for users to enter their phone number to get information via text message, may take longer to take off, Smrcka said. “There are always going to be some people who don’t have the comfort level to put their number into a public device,” Smrcka said. But overall, the small digital directories have added up to a huge success. VDR
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