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Five Ways Audiovisual Technology Can Help Sports Venues

It's difficult to conceive that a sports fan would want more entertainment than the game itself, yet many stadiums now have elaborate light shows with loud, thumping musical soundtracks to welcome the hometown heroes. The playing court or ice becomes a de facto projection screen, with visuals replicated on hundreds of display panels around the arena, creating a virtual immersive realm disconnected from the outside world.

Stadiums, ballparks, and arenas are used for more than simply sports. Behind these walls, club offices are using cutting-edge AV technology to track yearly player draughts, scout minor league and collegiate teams, and plan trade and contract tactics. With the latest in networked AV technology, hundreds of video channels, player profiles, biographies, and statistical statistics can be accessed at the touch of a screen within these rooms.

Even the locker rooms for the athletes have developed from congested places with wooden benches to elegant suites with several TV screens, gaming consoles, and LED signs. Prominent collegiate schools use facilities like this to help recruit top-tier players. Here are five examples of how teams and venues are utilising cutting-edge AV technology to interact with and thrill their supporters.

#1 Use the Playing Surface as an Imaging Screen

As video projectors' pixel resolution and light output have improved, they are being employed in novel ways. The most cutting-edge of these is projection mapping, in which a wide range of surfaces — flat or not, symmetrical or uneven — become de facto projection screens, lighted by solid-state projectors with tens of thousands of lumens of light energy.

These forecasts give additional value to spectators beyond the cost of entry during pregame, halftime, and intermission. They've been used to get the audience pumped up before the home team hits the court, to encourage patriotic or charitable support for various causes, to honour outstanding players, and to construct virtual places. The reflecting quality of ice, in particular, lends itself well to projection mapping, which has not gone ignored by hockey teams that are making use of it.

The 475,000-square-foot Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, is home to the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League and served as the official ice hockey arena for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Recently, team management opted to improve the fan experience by placing a high-power mapping system on the ice that includes four 30,000-lumen projectors, video servers, and specialised processors to produce and map visuals stretching 200 by 80 feet. To provide height and scale, four 40-foot-tall hanging scrims are placed at each corner of the rink, producing additional vertical projection surfaces.

Canucks supporters are treated to a pregame ritual that combines visuals from national anthems. When the activity on the ice stops, the projectors transfer pictures to specific ice surfaces characteristics such as boundary lines and logos. At the end of each intermission, a large light display enlists the projectors to raise the intensity level of the audience with rock-concert-themed effects. No hockey game would be complete without the typical "three stars" presentation at the end of the game, which is enhanced with special visuals.

#2 Enhance the Fan Experience With Immersive Retail

In the United States and Canada, there are dozens of major league sports clubs, including 62 Major League Baseball and National Football League teams. Each of the clubs has a devoted fan base, with some having a nationwide following. As a result, team-branded goods sales have risen. Hats, jerseys, T-shirts, souvenir bats, balls, keychains, and licence plate holders are all available with the name of your favourite club or player inscribed on them.

Setting up basic kiosks and cash registers was the "old school" way of selling fan items. Nevertheless, this has fallen out of favour as more teams shift to a fan "superstore" that combines purchases with immersive experiences. It's difficult to find more devoted supporters than those of the Chicago Cubs, who play in Wrigley Field, the second-oldest stadium in major league baseball. It has resisted the urge to relocate to a cutting-edge stadium, as have many other clubs.

The Cubs did end a 108-year streak as "loveable losers" when they won the World Series in 2016 – their first championship since 1908. Not unexpectedly, sales of Cubs caps, shirts, jerseys, coats, and other merchandise skyrocketed, and the organisation struggled to keep up with demand. As a result, immediately outside the stadium, a new flagship Cubs shop was built. This 8,400-square-foot retail space includes a 4x4 LCD video wall set on a curved radius wall above the main stairwell, which employs ultra-thin bezels to give the illusion of a single larger-than-life screen.

The Cubs also wanted to provide fans and visitors to the shop a one-of-a-kind, interactive experience, so they added an augmented-reality video green-screen attraction with an 86-inch 4K LCD. This green screen allows fans to create and see high-resolution images of themselves in iconic Wrigley Field settings such as within the manual scoreboard, behind home plate, or among the ivy on the outfield wall. During the first season of operation, almost 20,000 "selfies" were taken at Wrigley Field.

#3 Reimagine the Locker Room

The name "locker room" brings up pictures of crowded, filthy, and stinky facilities where sportsmen change before and after games. Yet that is just another standard that has been discarded. Both collegiate and professional teams now have locker rooms that are as opulent as a hotel suite, complete with plush carpets, Jacuzzi tubs, and lounges with big-screen televisions. Some even supply video game consoles for players to use in between sessions.

In terms of all-time victories, NCAA tournament participation and wins, and all-time winning percentage, the University of Kentucky Wildcats are without a doubt the most successful NCAA Division I basketball programme in history. In 2017, the team lounge and locker rooms were renovated for $5 million, resulting in the new Marksbury Players First Suite and Healy Family Locker Room.

When visitors approach the new suite area, they are met by an interactive media wall made up of three vertically placed 86-inch 4K LCD monitors, the centre of which is a touchscreen. This dynamic media wall serves largely as a recruiting tool, emphasising the programme's historical accomplishments. Viewers may examine Kentucky's national titles as well as the current roster, which includes each player's stats, photos, and video highlights. The media wall also features previous NBA players, displayed graphically through images, bios, and intermixed film of each player's NBA and Kentucky highlights.

The entertainment room of the suite has a 13-by-8-foot narrow-bezel LCD videowall in a 4x4 format. Gamers may link their Xboxes or PlayStations to the video wall via an HDMI cable. An LED video wall with a 1.5 mm pixel pitch was custom constructed into a continuous LED ribbon board and mounted above the squad lockers in the Wildcats' locker room for a 360-degree seamless display that matched the locker room's circular form.

#4 Build Advanced, Flexible AV Networks

Most baseball clubs, except for the Chicago Cubs, have built new stadiums in the last 30 years, adding features such as luxury boxes, cushioned seats, and big concession areas. Unlike traditional single-purpose stadiums, today's ballparks are more akin to shopping malls, with a variety of sights and noises competing for fans' attention.

The Cincinnati Reds, the game's oldest franchise, play at the Great American Ballpark near the Ohio River. This stadium, which opened in 2003, recently underwent extensive renovations to its audio and visual systems, principally due to the need to transition away from old, bulky, and complicated AV signal management systems and toward newer, simpler, more scalable network-based designs. With so many visual inputs (live and recorded video, streaming video, optical disc playback, high-end graphics) and destination displays to select from, the software-controlled network solution made perfect sense.

The "War Room," where Reds executives, coaches, and scouts arrange baseball transactions, watch college baseball games, and do all of their prospecting for draught day, was the first place to be refurbished. This room has three 80-inch LCD panels as well as a videowall with 12 DirecTV set-top boxes that can be routed to any of the displays at the push of a button. Individual channels can be windowed so that personnel can view many games at the same time. The Reds' Super Suite is nearby, and it has 10 interactive monitors with wireless presentation systems, videoconferencing, Blu-ray playback, digital signage, and HD tuners all functioning as sources.

The Handlebar Club has the stadium's second largest videowall, a 3x5 LCD monitor matrix, as well as 20 more TVs around the club. Lastly, there are 42 displays in the Scouts Club, including two interactive 2x2 videowall columns. Each booth in the restaurant has a touchscreen display from which guests may order meals, watch live television, or view the game schedule. All of these rooms are connected to a sophisticated AV network, and all signals are switched in software.

#5 Promote and Sustain Team Brands

Both amateur and professional sports organisations have made significant expenditures in their brands and legacies. These brands and legacies may be utilised as recruitment tools in certain circumstances, and they can also drive fans to follow teams and buy memorabilia from others. Individuals may age and relocate, but they seldom lose enthusiasm for their home team.

Sports teams utilise a variety of audiovisual methods to pique fans' interest, elicit emotional responses, stimulate purchases, and deliver immersive experiences that match game-day action. The Crisler Centre at the University of Michigan is a perfect example of marketing and protecting a brand while building passion among new fans – all while utilising cutting-edge Audiovisual technology.

The Crisler Centre is the home court for the Michigan basketball team. The concourse features seventeen 46-inch LCD touchscreens known as Individual Sports Interactives. These displays allow fans to explore any University of Michigan sport in photographs, video, or text; view stats from a recent game; read about upcoming games; and purchase tickets. Other screens are used to create various Kids' Zone Interactives, where younger fans can personalise a Michigan bobblehead portrait or compare their leaping ability or "wingspan" to that of a Michigan player.

The tale of player Cazzie Russell, who led the Wolverines to three consecutive Big Ten Conference basketball crowns and two NCAA Final Four berths, is told on a 55-inch interactive LCD tablet. Lastly, in Crisler's Hall of Honour, a pair of 5x3 interactive LCD video walls serve as a touch-screen digital "library" of Michigan's illustrious sporting past. Each wall allows five fans to use touch screens at the same time to cheque at player biographies, titles, accolades earned, historic game photographs, and film clips. Fans may even instruct a virtual quarterback in a football game or shoot a simulated shot from the stadium floor.

The University of Michigan, like other AV experiences in sports, transforms a passive activity - watching games — into an engaging one. Before, after, and during events, new and inventive audiovisual solutions pique audience's interest and maintain a connection. A game is now more of a theatrical event that draws people in and fosters deep ties.

In conclusion, the sports industry has evolved into a massive global enterprise, worth billions of dollars. With the increasing popularity of sports coverage, merchandise, and interactive experiences, stadiums, ballparks, and arenas are no longer just about watching the game. The use of cutting-edge audiovisual technology has transformed the fan experience, with elaborate light shows, immersive visuals, and interactive play areas. AV technology is also used behind the scenes, with club offices using it to track yearly player draughts, scout minor league and collegiate teams, and plan trade and contract tactics. From locker rooms to luxury suites, AV technology has become an integral part of the sports world, enhancing the entertainment value for fans and players alike. Do you have an upcoming sporting event soon? Level up the experience with Vision Enhancement! Contact us for more information.

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