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At least two NBA clubs and one NHL franchise are spending $1 million this year to implement a 3-D court projection system at their arenas, another example of how teams across sports are seeking ways to improve the in-arena fan experience.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils will use the technology, from Herndon, Va.-based Quince Imaging, in their coming seasons. Plans call for using the program for player introductions and potentially at select timeouts during games.
The Cleveland Cavaliers tested Quince Imaging’s system for Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ retirement ceremony last season.
Photo by:QUINCE IMAGING (2)
“We work hard on the ‘wow’ factor, and the floor looks like it is flipping all over the place,” said Tracy Marek, senior vice president of marketing for the Cavaliers. “Being able to project on the floor isn’t totally new, but the evolution is the quality.”
Other NBA teams have used the Quince Imaging system in the past as well, but only on a single-use basis. The Miami Heat, for example, used the system for their 2013 championship ring presentation ceremony. The program also was used at the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets, for the Jordan Brand Classic high school basketball tournament it hosted in April.
In the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens featured a similar system created by two vendors (Barco and Solotech) during their playoff run last season. This type of 3-D projection imaging also has been used at big events such as the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics.
The Cavs and Sixers will be using the technology throughout their coming seasons at Quicken Loans Arena and Wells Fargo Center, respectively. The Devils, under the same ownership as the Sixers, will use the technology for their games at the Prudential Center.
Other teams may soon follow.
“We are in conversations with a number of other locations,” said Scott Williams, Quince Imaging chief operating officer. In addition to its use in sports facilities, the company sells its imaging services to a variety of corporations and other organizations that hold large events.
Along with the entertainment value for the fans comes a potential revenue component for the clubs. Teams could look to use the system as a new piece of sponsorship inventory.
The Cavs are still working on specific ways to use the system other than for player introductions and have yet to integrate sponsors into the new technology.
Scott O’Neil, chief executive officer of the Sixers and the Devils, said the NBA club aims to use the system during the national anthem and game opening and then at halftime. The Devils similarly plan to use it for the anthem and game opening as well as between periods and then for the postgame “three stars” presentation.
“I haven’t seen anything this impactful in years,” O’Neil said.
There are challenges that come with using the system in the middle of games as opposed to introductions. Teams will need to dim the lights during the game to project the images on the playing floor, which can become problematic for fans in the venue.
“We are still talking about how we will use it,” Marek said. “It requires a dark building, but if you can put [content] on the scoreboard, you can put it on the court.”
The Detroit Pistons plan to roll out a series of initiatives inside the Palace of Auburn Hills for the coming season in hopes of reviving interest in a club that ranked near the bottom of the NBA in attendance last year.
Among the new offerings, the Pistons are adding iBeacon technology inside the arena to let fans who have the team’s smartphone app receive specific merchandise and concessions offers when they attend games. Detroit joins Golden State and Orlando as NBA teams featuring the technology.
The Pistons also are upgrading their Wi-Fi system to customize fan communication inside the arena. Once fans access the system, they will receive offers based on where they are sitting.
“We can customize offers or ads,” said Charlie Metzger, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for the Pistons. “The messaging in the courtside club is different to guests than in other areas.”
The Pistons are revamping their fan-loyalty program, as well. That program, launched last season, will now give fans who have downloaded the team app on their smartphones the opportunity to upgrade their seats and buy arena-experience packages, such as postgame shots on the court, from their seats during games.
The enhancements are all part of a digital overhaul throughout the arena, team officials said. The effort follows a season in which Detroit’s attendance averaged 15,025, up 1.6 percent from 2012-13 but still ranked 26th in the 30-team NBA and well below the league average of 17,408.
The Pistons also made an executive change this offseason, hiring Stan Van Gundy as their coach and president of basketball operations.
Detroit last year sold 5,000 full-season-equivalent ticket packages. Metzger would not disclose how many new ticket packages the team has sold so far this year, but he did say the team is “trending above where we were a year go.”
“We have an 80 percent renewal rate,” Metzger said, “and we are optimistic with the changes we made with Stan Van Gundy and the [recent] schedule release.”