SBJ/July 1-7, 2013/Facilities

Video screens to give Jags ‘huge palette’ for stadium content

Don Muret
The Jacksonville Jaguars’ plan to install the NFL’s largest video screens at EverBank Field goes much deeper than taking over bragging rights, according to team President Mark Lamping.

The club announced June 19 that it will replace the stadium’s two end zone boards for the 2014 season with new screens measuring 55 feet tall and 301 feet wide. The width of those screens far surpasses the monster boards at Cowboys Stadium and LP Field, as well as new installations for the coming season at Reliant Stadium and Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

In Jacksonville, both screens will have 16,626 square feet of active video space, more than five times greater than the size of the stadium’s current boards. The expanded screens give the Jaguars a “huge palette” to distribute content, and the challenge for team officials is to program them in the most compelling way possible, Lamping said.

The massive screens will measure 55 feet tall and 301 feet wide.
Image by: Populous
One year out, nothing is definitive, but the new boards will give the Jaguars the capacity to run the NFL’s RedZone channel throughout the game, a key piece of the in-game experience given the makeup of the local market, Lamping said.

“We know this would be welcomed by the large portion of our fans who are transplants to Jacksonville, as well as all fantasy football enthusiasts,” he said.

The NFL encourages teams to broadcast the RedZone channel at their stadiums and many clubs have televisions tuned to the network on their concourses and in premium areas.

To this point, some teams air it upward of 10 times a game on their scoreboards, but nobody runs it continuously, said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. The Houston Texans, for example, plan to show RedZone highlights on their new end zone screens this season but not during the entire game, said team President Jamey Rootes.

In Jacksonville, the new boards will be large enough to program unique content on each screen, keeping in mind the Jaguars’ need to maintain some consistency on both boards with game statistics and sponsor obligations.

“Because the boards are so big we don’t need mirror images at each end because they are in view of most fans,” Lamping said. “Some content will remain the same such as time of game, down and distance and replays.”

Big picture, the Jaguars feel the new boards will go a long way to satisfying NFL fans glued to their smartphones at the games.

“The story is not just who can build the biggest video board but to give them enough content so fans don’t have to be constantly interacting with their handheld device … to increase their enjoyment of what’s happening in the stadium and on the field,” Lamping said.

The new boards are part of $63 million in overall stadium improvements. The project includes the construction of a new fan platform in the north end zone to replace 7,000 seats currently covered by tarps for Jaguars home games.
The platform will have the flexibility to add temporary seats for the Florida-Georgia college football game, said Dennis Wellner, Populous’ senior principal in charge of the project. Wellner designed the stadium’s last renovation in the mid-1990s.

> BREAKING THROUGH: The new Breakaway Music Festival booked for two MLS stadiums on consecutive weekends in September is the direct result of the Soccer Stadium Alliance’s effort to fill more dates at those facilities.
Two years ago, about a half-dozen MLS teams formed the alliance and hired veteran promoter Donnie Frizzell as their point of contact for agents and bands. Together, they routed a few national tours through some of those 18,000- to 27,000-seat venues in 2012.

This year, the alliance’s intent was to develop all-day events customized for their buildings that attract a younger demographic. The result is Breakaway, featuring electronic, indie rock and hip-hop acts set for Crew Stadium and FC Dallas Stadium.

Prime Social Group, the event’s producer, is headed by Adam Lynn and Zach Ruben. The two 20-something promoters live in Columbus and played soccer in their youth. They understood the purpose behind the alliance and contacted Frizzell about creating an event for MLS venues.

“It’s all about laying out the groundwork and getting the right players in, not necessarily the bigger guys,” Frizzell said.

“There’s crossover with some of this music slanted toward soccer. We’re looking to expand this festival into a few more soccer stadiums in 2014.”

Don Muret can be reached at dmuret@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @breakground.

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