Creating an Unprecedented Live Event Experience that Produces Results

A Sports Business Journal podcast conversation with Steve Collins from OVG talks LED trends in live event venues.

“We’re living in a time now where the pixel pitch is so tight and the technology has advanced so much that you’re getting TV-like images, and the ability to have TV-quality images that are being driven by these LED boards.”

These comments were recently made by Steve Collins, Oak View Group‘s president of global venue development and special projects, on a podcast with Sports Business Journal.

Steve’s comment highlights a larger trend coming to large sports venues, such as Climate Pledge Arena (CPA) in Seattle, referenced multiple times in the podcast. It turns out that CPA is a great and recent example of the changes in the live event industry as Steve continued, “So when we talk to Alaska Airlines and we talk about their activation and what we can do for them – and you’ve probably seen this as you’ve walked through – in the lobby, you have a plane that flies through across all of those boards. Whether it’s the column wrap, whether it’s the ceiling, whether it’s the vertical displays and it flies through, it grabs your attention as opposed to static signage – way, way beyond that.”

The trend is covering every imaginable location with LED video display technology to breathe life into a physical building.

Steve continued, “It bleeds over into our ability to story tell with all of our partners … we’re able to weave those stories into the overall programming and you’re not walking in and just being overwhelmed with fixed signage, which you tend to kind of glaze over and just walk through as you’re going to your seat. I mean, this is an ‘aha’ moment as you walk into that atrium, and then it’s really storytelling from there until you get to your seat. And then the story is really whatever matters to you as it relates to that particular event where we’re trying to skew to make sure we’re checking the boxes to make it the best concert environment for you, to make it the best hockey environment for you and to make the best environment for our partners.”

This end goal isn’t easily achieved with just any company or partner. There are many things to consider when purchasing a single video display, let alone an arena full of them – more than any sports arena in the world when it comes to CPA. A quality product is certainly one of the most important things, but what happens at every step of creating that product and what happens after the installation of that product are also very critical.

“Initially, when we were stringing this together, there were a couple of components that really mattered to us,” Steve shared. “One is, whenever you’re working with Daktronics, Daktronics will tell you what they’re good at. You know what business they’re in, you know what business they are not in. They’re not trying to be in other areas and they’re very good at what they do and they handle the project from beginning to end. So, as we were entering in and we were just starting to get into the COVID and the impacts that COVID was having on the overall supply chain or trying to predict eventually what impacts they would have, to be able to work with a partner that was US-based, in this particular case, was very important to us.”

“To have that US presence and to be partnered with somebody that is not outsourcing any portion of the project from beginning to end. So, very transparent … the transparency and the control that they have on their part, which translates into certainty and control on our part and knowing that horsepower exists, knowing the players that are going to be handling the design of the project, the installation of the project and, ultimately, helping the operators with content creation and just the overall operation of the board.”

“Foundationally, to put it together, it really came down to their people, to the transparency, to the US-based assembly and a certainty of supply chain.”

To bring the product together with the activation is something that wasn’t always possible in the way that Steve is mentioning here. But today, venues like CPA are taking full advantage and will continue to look at live events in an innovative way in the future.

Talking about opportunities to activate different locations within an existing facility, Steve commented, “One of the reasons you haven’t activated it in the past is because it’s just been too dang expensive. To try to get to some of the stuff that you’re seeing in Seattle, it would’ve been cost-prohibitive a year ago. But the cost has come down to the point that LED activation now taking a whole wall and activating it for a partner is possible in a way that’s meaningful and impactful and engaging.”

“That really didn’t exist before. That’s been the last three years that we’ve gotten to that place where it’s cost-effective enough and the experience is there to really engage with the patron and the partner.”

The full podcast goes into further detail with commentary from Daktronics Professional Sports Manager Brent Stevens on the CPA project, working with Oak View Group and much more about the digital display activation in sports venues. We highly recommend you find the time to listen to it in full to learn more about these trends and how LED technology can be used in live event venues.

To listen to the full conversation, click here.

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