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  • Video boards bring Times Square flair to BankAtlantic Center

    Sunrise Sports & Entertainment is adding a touch of Times Square to promote the Florida Panthers and give the NHL club’s sponsors more high-tech exposure inside and outside BankAtlantic Center.

    The team debuts “lobby vision” for the coming NHL season, a term officials use to describe two new 400-square-foot LED boards on the arena’s main concourse. The big boards have permanent signs on the top and bottom for advertisers. The Panthers plan to use the video screen in the middle to air their games live tied into the team’s local radio broadcast.

    “We can also create unique messaging opportunities as our fans exit the building with our sponsors, game promotions, ticket sales and ‘drive home safely’ reminders from our players,” said Michael Yormark, president and chief operating officer.

    The Panthers invested $1 million in lobby vision, working with Ad Systems of Fort Myers, Fla.

    “The concept is the same as Times Square,” Yormark said, “where you see video boards all over the place.”

    It’s also another example of how teams continue the push to improve the fan experience beyond the inner bowl and into the hallways.

    The University of Virginia’s John Paul Jones Arena opened in 2006, and its twin 144-square-foot screens inside the main entrance show sponsor commercials, provide food and retail information, and one board shows live game action, said Kris Seale, producer for the athletic department’s video services.

    Outside BankAtlantic Center, the Panthers spent $2.5 million for two other video projects, including one that doubles the size of a billboard behind the facility that faces Sawgrass Expressway, where 75,000 vehicles pass by in each direction every day.

    The 53-foot-tall billboard is a two-sided LED screen containing four permanent ad panels and the arena’s name on top of the board. A new 37-foot marquee in front of the arena has the same capabilities on a smaller scale.

    Yormark predicts a one-year to 18-month payback for the video upgrades inside and outside the arena, which turns 10 years old in October.

    CANADIAN CLUBS: Maple Leaf Square has expanded in scope and increased in cost by $141 million, but the mixed-use development project next to Air Canada Centre in Toronto continues to move full speed ahead and is set to open in March 2010.

    The condo towers of Maple Leaf Square next to
    Air Canada Centre are set to open in 2010.

    The two condominium towers have grown in size to 54 and 56 floors, respectively, after plans originally called for building 40- and 44-story skyscrapers when the project was announced in 2005.

    The demand for more condos and rising construction costs due to the large volume of development in Toronto pushed the cost to $471 million, said Bob Hunter, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment executive vice president. He said the three development partners, Lanterra Developments, Cadillac Fairview, and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment also decided to increase the quality of finishes in the 800 units.

    So far, the down economy in the United States has not affected MLSE’s large-scale projects, including a $23 million arena expansion, Hunter said.

    “We can see it coming,” he said. “A lot of our clients are U.S.-based organizations like Citibank and Unilever, and they are being told in Canada to get ready for it. We are working harder than normal to maintain our corporate sponsors and suite renewals.”

    Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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