SBJ/Sept. 30-Oct. 7, 2013/NFL Stadium Experience

Angry sky and quiet boards

NFL executives undoubtedly hoped for an electrifying start to the season, but this probably wasn’t what they had in mind.

Minutes before kickoff to the season-opening Broncos-Ravens game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, storm clouds gathered overhead. Soon after pregame festivities, lightning crashed in the distance. The Broncos’ PA announcer quickly told the 77,000-strong crowd that they would be advised to seek shelter inside the concourses.

A storm’s approach didn’t budge many Denver fans from their seats.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
The kickoff, the announcer said, would be pushed back 15 minutes. The delay then grew to half an hour. Typical of a late-summer storm in Colorado, it hit with intensity for 30 minutes, then surrendered to clear skies. Maybe it’s a Western mentality, but the majority of fans stayed in their seats the entire time.

The moment seemed perfect for some sort of branding — if not advertising, then at least information or additional content for the fans stuck out in the rain.

But during the break the Broncos’ enormous video boards ran minimal advertising — and no content whatsoever in terms of entertainment or even updates related to the storm. The team has a local television partner, NBC affiliate KUSA, and The Weather Channel is owned by NBC, which was broadcasting the game; could there have been an opportunity to show radar of the storm?

Instead, a simple lightning warning flashed across the main LED board. Branding for Buick and Bud Light scrolled on the top parts of the adjacent boards, along with the Broncos’ “United in Orange” branding. “United in Orange” also scrolled along the fascia boards for 30 minutes. On TV, NBC’s broadcast cut to an on-field discussion with the umbrella-wielding Tony Dungy, Dan Patrick and Rodney Harrison, and at one point even showed footage of Broncos coach John Fox trying to keep the mood light with his team underneath the stadium.

But none of it was shown on the video board, though NBC was shown on the monitors in the concourses. The Broncos did not respond for comment, and I’m sure the safety of the fans was their primary concern.

I appreciate the need for safety, but having the same messages on the boards stagnant for 33 minutes seemed like a missed opportunity for the team and the league.
— Fred Dreier


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