Feature Article - October 2019
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Game Day Connections

Entertain & Communicate With Lighting, Scoreboards & Sound

By Dave Ramont


More facilities of all sizes are installing video boards to increase fan entertainment and provide more game stats, according to Huntimer. "Video boards allow the facility to share more game data than most scoreboards allow, thereby keeping fans' attention on the game and not looking elsewhere for statistics." She explained how consoles and software can capture in-depth stats such as assists, shooting percentages, average rushing yards, etc., and easily push them to the video display.

Hammack agreed that adding video displays is a trend, whether "pairing video display with scoreboards or using video display as a scoreboard utilizing virtual scoreboard technology."

Ribbon displays—whether 360-degree or curved linear models—might encircle a stadium or concourse, or be used in end zones, outfields or on sidelines.

Larger professional stadiums are pushing the envelope with their scoreboards and video systems, leading to new innovations that trickle down to the smaller venues. Huntimer's company has worked on custom projects for many professional teams, including Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, home to the Atlanta Falcons and host of last year's Super bowl. They boast the world's largest video scoreboard—the elliptical-shaped Halo—measuring 58-feet high and 1,075-feet round.

The influx of scoreboard/video board combinations is making it easier than ever for venues of all sizes to generate revenue with their systems. "Schools are beginning to understand the advertising opportunities available to them with video displays," said Hammack. "The initial cost of the display and operating system seems pretty steep on the surface, but as schools realize the earning potential available through the sale of advertising, the cost can easily be recouped within a year or two."

Huntimer agreed that more facilities are seeing the benefit of selling sponsorships to fund new video scoring systems. "Digital and static advertisements often included in these packages offer the facility a way to minimize the clutter of many banners."

Back at UMBC, Mandato said their new scoreboard is wall-mounted, hanging in the open end of their facility's bowl. "Our bowl is a horseshoe, and it faces 95% of the crowd." It's utilized for both basketball and volleyball, controlled from their video game production room, where a technician works with a producer for the game feeds, following a script. "We play with the windows for stats, live feed and promotions. We don't have replay capability on the board, however we do show live video of the stands and in-game promotions."

The new ribbon board displays the shot clock, score, fouls, etc., according to Mandato. "Mostly game stats, but also any promotions for the campus, events, coming attractions, etc." He added that an outside company operates the Event Center, so they're in control of advertising and sponsorships.

There is also new LED lighting at the facility, which Mandato said is a big improvement. "Far superior, with great sight lines. The court really pops on TV."

In fact, lighting is another key area that's evolved significantly in recent years, due in large part to LED technology. Manufacturers work to concentrate light where it's most needed while also reducing glare and spill and lowering energy consumption and operating costs.

Jeff Rogers, vice president at an Iowa-based company specializing in the design and manufacture of sports, transportation and infrastructure lighting solutions, explained how LED technology and output have advanced to the point where it's cost-effective, so park and rec fields and high schools are able to install lighting systems that utilize the same LED technology that they've installed at professional stadiums and arenas.

According to Rogers, more high school stadiums and smaller fields are installing their special effects packages with new systems. "This is economical and reliable technology that delivers professional-level light shows, some of which have light-to-sound synchronization and colored lights using RGBW (an LCD display technology) fixtures. It's easy to control with a simple touch screen interface and they have a series of light shows to choose from for player introductions, celebrating touchdowns, halftime and post-game shows."

Rogers gets into some of the science involved with their patented lighting systems, which are effective at directing the light being emitted while also reducing source glare. Additionally, they've developed a system that "enables players and spectators to see the field and track the entire flight of the ball like never before." This is achieved with light pole positioning and precisely targeted vertical light paired with highly controlled downward light from other LED fixtures, creating greater contrast between the ball and dark sky. "It also results in a fraction of skyglow compared to poorly designed LED sports lighting that spills light at a more horizontal angle."

Utilizing the advanced LED light source is also environmentally responsible, according to Rogers. "We're able to reduce energy consumption by as much as 80% compared to metal halide equipment, and at the same time increase light levels on the field of play."

Another benefit is the ability to turn lights on and off instantly, and they offer useful dimming capabilities. "So when something is happening at a field or stadium where the lights aren't needed at full power, they can run at 25% or 50% as a way to conserve energy and save costs."

More and more facilities of all sizes are undergoing LED retrofits, according to Rogers, but he cautioned that LED isn't a solution unto itself, it's just the latest light source technology, which presents a whole new set of challenges when it comes to effectively reducing glare and spill, mitigating heat and servicing the drivers. Therefore it's important to make sure your supplier and project manager have experience designing systems for a sports setting, and that they offer a long-term warranty covering parts and labor. "These things are every bit as important as what light source technology is being used. Just having LED fixtures isn't a magic bullet."