LED Concourse Fascia: Lights, Motion and New Dimension in Signage
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LED Concourse Fascia: Lights, Motion and New Dimension in Signage

Take one sports stadium, a high-tech LED video display board complete with flashy programming displays, the stadium concourse frontage, a creative advertising program and carefully mix them all together. When the dust settles you have a totally blended, completely enclosed electronic display format that is half advertising and half entertainment and fully engaging to the audiences that watch it during game breaks.

By Louis M. Brill

Advertisers like it because it's a new way for them to communicate with the 'Internet' generation. Stadium owners like it because it has greatly increased their advertising revenues and fans like it for the added entertainment it provides. When was the last time you heard that about a new sign system?

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  • Traditionally in a stadium, one promotional opportunity is concourse advertising which offers a fixed number of flex face banner displays that advertisers can buy for the season and are then hung on the front edge of the upper concourse (inner ring) deck. All this has been transformed via LED digital display formats, where electronic sign companies are developing a new electronic signage platform that brings sports promotions and advertising into the 21st century.

    YESCO (Las Vegas, Nevada) and Daktronics (Brookings, South Dakota), both companies involved with the manufacturing, sales and operations of electronic display boards and systems, have begun to develop digital concourse fascia displays for sport stadiums as a high-tech increase in stadium advertising capabilities.

    YESCO's SurroundVision at Pepsi Center Arena. Audiences can't help but notice it as its message and advertising chase sequences race around concourse fascia in between game plays. photo credit: YESCO

    Whereas billboards, banners and painted signs have forever had a sport stadium presence, Surround Vision, which is developed by YESCO, is a new electronic sports stadium sign format, designed as a letterbox shaped LED video display panel as described by YESCO electronic sales manager, Neil Whitaker. Whitaker says, "Our Surround Vision system exists exclusively as an advertising revenue source to the sports arena marketplace.

    In the arena industry, there is always a need for additional advertising and from that owner/operators are always looking for new opportunities to create more revenue from arenas. Sport arenas are becoming more expensive all the time between the costs of new construction and team salary situations, their expenses are forever increasing and Surround Vision is a perfect solution to that need to increase revenue"

    YESCO's Surround Vision is composed of a full color, LED message board which presents moving, changing dynamic graphic images that the sports arena or stadium uses as a continuous display for general and specific advertising or visual entertainments for the audiences. Here the promoter can "own" the entire display board in 30 to 60 second increments where only their product or brand is seen by the audience. Additional uses include creating arena special promotions or other relevant sport news.

    The creation of Surround Vision is an extension of an already existing LED video display technology that is used in creating large digital video billboards. Its creation for sports stadiums and arenas is merely a reconfiguration of that digital process and is applied to a specific market niche. Mounted on a stadium concourse, this 'digital fascia' eliminates the annual cost and time associated with vinyl change-outs on banner signage. Now through Surround Vision, all concourse sign inventory is digital and can be changed out at a moment's notice via the computer which manages the Surround Vision board.

    Currently YESCO has three Surround Systems installed including the Denver Pepsi Center (Denver, Colorado), Nation Wide Arena (Columbus, Ohio), and PNC Par, (Pittsburg, PA). Each host stadium has expressed delight with their system. For the Denver Pepsi Center, it was a chance to get into super graphics and experiential design elements. "It is the single most recognizable piece of inventory that we have in the building," says Todd Goldstein, Director of the Denver Pepsi Center's sales and Marketing efforts. "This system can deliver value that creates special opportunities for those advertisers that use it. When you see that entire LED board change as its going around the stadium, and you remember it, that's very visually impactful for both customers and advertisers."

    SurroundVision by YESCO is a full color, LED message reader board that presents many messages with changing dynamic graphic images for advertising, PSAs scoreboard and game information. photo credit: YESCO

    After one year's use, the Denver Pepsi Center was so impressed, that although they started with a horseshoe shaped display board partially surrounding their stadium, the following year they removed some nearby fixed signage and replaced it with an additional 150 feet of Surround Vision.

    As to cost, inevitably a Surround Vision system is based on the amount of surface area of the concourse edge that is covered. So far stadium configurations have either been a complete 360-degree display or a partial surround in the form of a horseshoe. As for the linear cost of a YESCO LED display panel, the company did not disclose that. Installation time is based on the final display board acreage utilized and that in turn is merely a straightforward placement of display boards in a sign cabinet frame that is hung from the concourse front edge.

    YESCO Surround Vision is defined by its location, which is the front edge of the upper concourse seating area. The system is composed of full color, nine inches square LED boards that are tiled together into more complete concourse fascia display. In turn the LED panels are managed by an on-site computer system that supply the messages and the frequency of their displays to the Surround Vision system. As to how Surround Vision graphics and text are supplied, Whitaker explained that the host stadium sets the advertising rates, collects the artwork and forwards that to YESCO Media Services who transform it into its final ready-to-use graphic files that are then sent back to the host stadium.

    Because Surround Vision's moving messages of advertisements and stadium promotions circling around a stadium has the potential of competing for the audience's attention during game time, it is designed to be used as a display format only in between game actions. "During game play, whether it's basketball or hockey, and the clock is running," says Whitaker, "Surround Vision just shows off a static advertising imagery. It's when the game play stops, that Surround Vision picks up and the board comes alive with its animated advertising."

    Stadium owners are seeing concourse fascia as a new advertising location for their facilities. This ProAd advertising display was installed at Staples Center in Las Angeles and measures 2 feet (H) by 5,040 feet long (almost a mile in circumference). photo credit: Daktronics

    Daktronics, (Brookings, South Dakota), another company involved in electronic LED message and video billboards also produces a cycloramic concourse electronic display known as ProAd which is focused on sport facilities such as stadiums and arenas. "ProAd is used to display text messages, graphic imaging, limited video use and advertising," says Mark Steinkamp, Daktronics Director of Marketing. Currently, we have a number of sport stadium installations for this including the Paul Brown Stadium (Cincinnati. Ohio), Xcel Energy Center Arena (St. Paul, Minnesota) and the Denver Broncos, (Denver, Colorado).

    Steinkamp observed how ProAd is essentially a new medium of advertising. "We're just beginning to realize all of its capabilities," Steinkamp said. "Many of our customers are still learning about using this technology to its full potential." One ProAd stadium owner noted how its integrated display system takes a conventional game and creates more of a memorable event combining its live action with its multimedia signage to turn it into a larger-than-life entertainment experience.

    "ProAd is more than just advertising, it also displays 'various entertainment moments. Here the scoreboard and display operators work closely with advertisers on how to best utilize the full capabilities of a ProAd display system for their events," said Steinkamp. "For example, it's used before a game starts to keep fans entertained, sometimes with out-of-town game scores, player information and trivia questions, as well as advertising. It's also used to add drama while the national anthem is being sung. The ProAd system will display the stars and stripes and they'll also run a clipped video out take of the person singing the anthem. It's quite a presentation when it's all synchronized together. The fans are completely surrounded in a multi-media environment." (see companion article: http://WWW.SIGNINDUSTRY.com/led/articles/2003-04-29-LB-LED-Scoreboards.php3)

    Utilizing a ProAd concourse fascia board at full capacity with advertising and half time entertainment creates a more memorable sporting event for the fans. photo credit: Daktronics

    Classically, the transformation of these cycloramic digital fascias is a great example of a display medium adapting to form and function. Here, its function remains the same as its big brother counterpart of LED video billboards that are seen all along Times Square and the Strip in Las Vegas. Repetitive advertisements cycling across video screens - that's already happening. What's exciting about this digital concourse fascia display is its use of form as it adapts to existing sport stadium/arena architecture.

    This merger of architecture and signage provides a level of signage that expands its typical rooftop and building side placements to more of an integrated corporate public communicating system. In this case, a sports facility where the display system not only outputs advertising, but entertainment and related sports information. In some ways this is similar to many of the recent integrated building sign placements in Times Square (NASDAQ, ABC News and Morgan Stanley) where the signs are more than advertising in as much a media extension of how each of those companies does business with the public.

    A Daktronics ProAd message reader board installed on Invesco Field in Denver, Colorado. The board is 32 inches high and 368 feet long. photo credit: Daktronics

    Speaking of Times Square, Whitaker reflected back to the early 20th century (1928) when the ancient cousin of this high-tech message ribbon system appeared around the perimeter of One Times Square. Known originally as a 'zipper' and made of incandescent bulbs, it was fairly primitive by today's standards of full color and animated graphic presentations. (see /led/articles/2003-02-28-LB-LED-Zippers.php3) Nevertheless, it was the first effort at presenting an electronic message board that people looked to for news and sports information. It stopped people in their tracks then as they watched the moving messages and flashing lights and it still does the trick 80 years later.

    ----------------------------------------------------

    Louis M. Brill is a journalist and consultant for high-tech entertainment and media communications. He can reached at (415)664-0694 or lmbrill@earthlink.net

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