SBJ/Sept. 20-26, 2010/Facilities

Trading places: From Giants to Jets

Main photoPatrick E. McCarthy
The heaviest lifting during the changeover occurs in the stadium's end zones.
One hour after the New York Giants won their regular-season opener on a rainy Sunday at New Meadowlands Stadium, a building employee struggled with a diagram for fastening a Jets-branded field wall wrap.

Cameron Smith, creative director and a principal at Infinite Scale, the firm hired by stadium officials to develop the changeover system at the NFL’s only two-team stadium, was walking by and offered assistance. Smith, who designed the wall wraps, helped the worker sort through key codes for correctly installing the Jets banners.

Infinite Scale partners with teams, leagues and events to create branded displays for sports facilities. New Meadowlands Stadium presented the perfect blend of the permanent and temporary themes in which the firm specializes, company principals said.

The company counted the Jets, the Giants and the joint venture operating the stadium each as a client, helping ensure a consistent program for converting the building from Giants blue to Jets green, said Molly Mazzolini, a partner in the firm.

The joint venture hired Infinite Scale to coordinate the stadium’s universal signage system and hardware containing those signs. The Giants, meanwhile, developed their own displays in-house and used the company for production only, Mazzolini said. The Jets went one step further, trusting Infinite Scale to come up a new design theme for the club. The resulting image, contrails of smoke similar to a commercial airliner streaking across the sky, is used on all Jets banners, video screens and the huge tri-vision board greeting fans at the stadium’s west gate.

All told, the stadium changeover took about 12 hours to complete, with 46 people involved in the conversion, stadium officials said.

The physical piece of the changeover ranges from pushing a button to change 2,607 electronic signs for ticket windows, wayfinding displays and team store lighting, to operating heavy machinery for removing 40 trays of FieldTurf in the end zones featuring Giants and Jets marks.

New Meadowlands Stadium is the first NFL venue to take apart its end zones in such a manner, officials said. Each tray measures 112 square feet and weighs 1,500 pounds, said Mark Lamping, the joint venture’s president and CEO.

The stadium has a third, neutral-color end zone system for college football games that can be painted to match the colors of Rutgers and Syracuse, two schools contracted to play games at the venue.

Infinite Scale also developed a flexible system with removable panels to accommodate a ring of honor high up in both end zones for both teams to recognize their greatest players. The Jets had their ring of honor in place for their Monday night debut game. The Giants should have theirs ready sometime in October, after they make a final decision on design, Smith said.

Those displays change depending on which team is playing, and for special events, the stadium can go with a blank face or install panels with the facility’s name, said Smith, whose work is now done at New Meadowlands Stadium.

The stadium’s conversion process can perhaps best be seen in the team store, operated by Delaware North Sportservice. Overnight between the Giants’ game Sept. 12 and the Jets’ game the next evening, the store changed from all Giants to all Jets retail thanks in large part to clothing racks that can flip around with the press of a foot pedal. Additional panels installed on the sides cover apparel tied to the team not playing that day, said Donna Genesky, Sportservice’s director of retail.

Those racks, developed by Opto International, are an upgrade over a similar display Sportservice uses to sell Bruins and Celtics merchandise at TD Garden in Boston, an arena owned and operated by Delaware North Cos., the concessionaire’s parent firm, Genesky said.

It took just a few hours to turn the store over after the Giants game, she said.

“You can’t believe how many customers came up in line and talked about flipping the store, [asking] is this really going to be 100 percent Jets tomorrow?” Genesky said.
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