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Volume 23 No. 28
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Populous Activate delivers new arena activation zone for FedEx

Don Muret
The Memphis Grizzlies have revamped a large section of concourse space at FedEx Forum connected to the overnight shipper’s activation zone.

The newly remodeled FedEx Hub, the result of a $1.3 million renovation, replaces the old FedEx Timecenter, a feature on the arena’s main concourse that took patrons on an interactive journey tracking a package around the world from any destination.

Now 11 years since the arena’s opening (2004), the old FedEx activation was outdated. Jason Wexler, the Grizzlies’ president of business operations, said the huge advances in technology, with social media at the forefront of the fan experience, drove the need for a total refresh of the space.

The new FedEx Hub in Memphis
FedEx, with the Grizzlies, took the lead for the project and hired Populous Activate last spring to redevelop the more than 8,000 square feet of concourse real estate. Activate, a division of Kansas City firm Populous specializing in branded destinations, spent the next seven months redesigning the zone, said Brian Mirakian, a principal with Populous and Activate’s director of the Americas.

“It was time for them to modernize and create an overall experiential space to connect with the next generation of fans,” Mirakian said.

The upgrades include a social media lounge revolving around real-time feeds from Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and FedEx, and live broadcasts of Grizzlies and Memphis Tigers college hoops games. An overhead projector displays those images on a backlit table themed as a “social island.”

A mix of bar stools, lounge chairs, benches and drink rails, plus charging stations for mobile phones, will all be in place by next month, forming a gathering place for fans, Mirakian said.

In addition, the FedEx Hub showcases a scale model of a cargo plane made by Boeing, the company’s exclusive fleet provider. The interactive display, a cutaway version of the 767-300’s shell, shows visitors how it’s filled with freight.

“It’s kind of a ‘pulling back the curtain’ moment for showing how the process works,” Wexler said.

Separately, an element called the Possibilities Wall displays images making the connection between key moments in the city’s history and the shipper, such as the opening of St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in 1962 and FedEx taking over as title sponsor of the St. Jude Classic golf tournament in 1986.

Another media wall is programmed as a FedEx global flight tracker with touch-screen technology that pinpoints aircraft in real time.

The final piece is a flexible space for FedEx to program for multiple exhibits. It’s filled now by the No. 11 car driven by Denny Hamlin in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and sponsored by FedEx, an offering that provides a photo opportunity for arena patrons, Mirakian said.

South end zone upgrades were part of the first phase of work at Sun Devil Stadium.
> THE DEVIL(S) INSIDE: Arizona State University officials are starting to market Founders Suites as part of the second phase of Sun Devil Stadium’s $256 million renovation.

Modeled after the ultra-high-end suites built at new and renovated college stadiums in Texas, the Founders Suites cost $10 million, a sum to be paid over five to 10 years, said Rocky Harris, chief of staff for the ASU athletic department. In exchange, those buyers receive midlevel inventory between the 20-yard lines on the stadium’s west side, outfitted with 12 outdoor seats plus four seats along a drink rail, access to the exclusive Founders Lounge, and four parking spaces, among other amenities.

To date, ASU has commitments for five of the 10 Founders Suites after talks started with donors about a year ago, Harris said. One of three smaller suites priced at $2 million also has been sold.

Construction on the second phase, a $107 million project, starts this week. The third and final phase, covering improvements to the stadium’s east side and technology upgrades, including a new video board, will be completed in 2017.

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