Teams using flash (and splash) to improve in-game fan experience
If you want to talk about the size of your video board, the Jacksonville Jaguars want in on that conversation, debuting two scoreboards at EverBank Field as the largest of their kind in the world. While the San Francisco 49ers offered up a brand-new Levi’s Stadium this month, five NFL stadiums underwent renovations in time for the 2014 season, projects that included everything from new escalators to new poolside cabanas. But there was a common theme across the upgrades: video boards.
The biggest offseason splash may come at 19-year-old EverBank Field, where not only can you rent new poolside cabanas at the field’s new swimming pools, but you can enjoy the largest scoreboards of their kind, perched at either end zone, as part of a $63 million upgrade.
The Daktronics boards each rise above the seats at the end zones, 60 feet high and 362 feet wide, now the largest single video boards anywhere at over 21,700 square feet of digital brightness.
That wasn’t all for video, though. A 10-foot by 320-foot board falls under the large board on the north end zone and new ribbon displays and four new corner video boards fill EverBank with the ability to show replays, statistics, fantasy football updates, league wide scores, advertisements and anything else the Jaguars dream up. The changes give Jacksonville 55,000 square feet of video boards, a 660 percent increase from last season and the most in the NFL.
There was no need for the 9,500 seats in the north end zone, so the Jaguars ripped them out, instead filling the space with a two-level party deck complete with 16 cabanas surrounding two swimming pools. Fans can rent poolside suites, but a portion of the new space will remain open to all fans in the seating bowl.
The Carolina Panthers want you to see and hear their Bank of America Stadium upgrades. A $65 million project includes the longest 360-degree ribbon boards in the NFL and two new 63-feet by 212-feet Daktronics video boards above the 18-year-old stadium.
To make use of the video capabilities, the Panthers had to upgrade sound throughout the venue. Carolina replaced the sound cluster sitting in the west end, sometimes throwing sound 600 feet, to a distributed system, with every seat within 100 feet from a sound source.
Getting to those seats has also improved, with four new escalator bays to the club and upper deck levels helping fan circulation. The Panthers also added four new party plazas at the top of the stadium.
Want more video? Philadelphia has it. The Eagles wrapped up the second phase of a $125 million project to upgrade the 11-year-old Lincoln Financial Field before the start of the season by spending roughly $90 million to add seats and video boards.
Three of the open corners at Lincoln Financial Field were filled in with seats, adding 1,600 to the total mix, giving the Eagles more than 70,000 for game day. And when fans aren’t watching the action on the field, they can turn their eyes to two new video boards at either end of the stadium, both 27 feet tall with the north end zone board 192 feet wide and the one in the south 160 feet wide. Eleven new ribbon boards nearly encircle the stadium.
Along with club upgrades, some of the 1,300 new televisions throughout the venue went there, and a new escalator, the Eagles built two bridges in the southwest corner to allow fans in the upper concourse and club level to walk from the home side to the visitor side of the stadium.
Last year’s first phase included free Wi-Fi, enhanced concessions and other cosmetic changes to the stadium’s exterior and interior.
New structural components mix with fresh scoreboards to highlight the $130 million upgrades to 41-year-old Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Main entrances on both the north and south sides were completely revamped and a brand-new Bills store in front of the west end of the stadium offers a new look to the area. Inside, concession locations increase from 38 to 43, restrooms were added, a new point of sale system aims to increase ease of buying and a new end zone lounge is open to all fans.
On the video front, the Bills expanded their main west-end scoreboard to handle video throughout the 33 feet height and 165 feet width. Two smaller boards, 33 feet high by 60 feet wide, sit opposite at the east end, one mirroring the main board and the other showing statistics and scores.
A two-phase, $120 million project to upgrade 15-year-old First Energy Stadium includes new seating configurations and new video boards.
The first phase features the Browns tripling the size of their video boards in each end zone and moving them closer to the fans. The new, angled Daktronics boards have nearly 6,900 square feet of display space. The west end zone’s unique configuration equates to a board 40 feet high by 192 feet wide at the top, angling to 178 feet wide in the middle and 132 feet wide along the bottom. In all, 25 new display screens were added in Cleveland to go with a completely new audio system.
To make way for the new video boards, removing upper-deck seating drops overall capacity at First Energy Stadium roughly 4,000 down to 68,000. Cleveland, though, added about 2,000 seats in the corners of the lower bowl, increasing seating closer to the field.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.