Stadiums Put Digital Signage on the Big Stage

by Jeff Hastings, CEO of BrightSign, LLC

Digital signage in stadiums and other event facilities is not new. For the better part of the past decade, venues have been swapping out aging, legacy static signage and CRTs in favor of sleek new digital signage to enhance the fan experience. But even more interesting to me is to see how digital signage is being used in new venues. We’re talking about much more than digital menu boards here – we’re seeing digital signage as an integral component of the stadium’s conceptual design, long before construction begins.

Our players are working hard behind the scenes at many new major sports complexes – powering menus, scoreboards, luxury suite signage, parking lots and even displays located in the restrooms. Digital signage is EVERYWHERE in these new venues. Late-model LED displays are an increasingly popular option utilized in stadiums, from individual displays to massive installations like the stunning 9,000-square-foot LED video mesh on the exterior facade of T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Having worked through several of these monumental projects, I’d like to share some key learnings about how best to approach sporting venue projects. First and foremost, become engaged as early as possible in the design process. The earlier digital signage is part of the conversation as designers are envisioning the scope of the venue, the better. As a player manufacturer, we don’t often have a seat at the table for these early brainstorming sessions, but many of our integrator and creative partners do. It’s essential that these individuals know what the latest digital signage hardware is capable of so they can inject ideas that are both impactful as well as achievable.

Second – and this one is critical for team ownership groups to be aware of – emphasize all the various ways to monetize content via digital signage. And this goes far beyond simply serving up ads on the displays. Sophisticated software now makes it possible to deliver ads in a highly targeted way, in different zones within the facility, at specific times when the ads are likely to be most visible. And beyond ad monetization, there’s also a big advantage to having in place a signage network that’s capable of fully “rebranding” the facility. This is especially helpful when renting out the building for large corporate events, or when two teams share a single facility. The more signage that’s in place, the more easily the stadium can be rebranded with the flip of a switch.

Lastly, be aware that new builds of this scale can be very challenging. On the one hand, there’s an advantage in not needing to retrofit an existing building. But on the other hand, new stadium builds are a massive undertaking, and the team responsible for installing signage will be working in parallel with many other trades. This means heavy workplace traffic with many tradespeople working in close proximity. It also means you may show up ready to run cabling, only to find the walls aren’t in place yet. These delays are par for the course and should be expected.

Digital signage is increasingly becoming an integral part of the fan experience. These large projects are a great opportunity for those of us in the AV trades to showcase all the great things our products and technologies are capable of. Make the most of the opportunity and…knock it out of the park!


About the Author

BrightSign CEO Jeff Hastings joined BrightSign in August 2009 while it was still a division of Roku Inc. In late 2010 with digital signage activities growing so rapidly, BrightSign became a separate firm. The holder of eight U.S. patents, he also has a history of tech industry leadership, including as president of mp3 pioneer Rio.