Massive Array of Cutting-Edge Display Technologies Heighten the Fan Experience at Providence Park
In the Pacific Northwest, professional soccer has a passionate following marked by avid fans and diehard, authentic support for local teams. The excitement for soccer is especially rampant in Portland, home to the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer and the Portland Thorns FC of the National Women's Soccer League.
These teams play their home matches at Providence Park, a historic sports venue that was built in 1926 in the downtown area of the city. In May 2019, following an extensive expansion and remodel, the Portland Timbers and Thorns FC unveiled the results of an $85 million stadium transformation. The renovation includes a new three-tiered seating structure with over 4,000 new seats and a modern edge-to-edge roof on the eastern portion of the stadium. Additionally, both team locker rooms were renovated, new concession stands built, the turf field upgraded, and a new team store added. Highlighting Providence Park's transformation is a versatile array of high-tech LED video screens and LCD displays that are integrated throughout the stadium in a variety of ways to engage fans and drive excitement.
From Planar, the technology integrations include:
• LED video scoreboards
• Portrait-orientated LED video walls
• LED ribbon boards
• Commercial-grade LCD displays
"The display technologies really heighten the fan experience," said Jack Jewsbury, director of business development at the Portland Timbers and Thorns FC. "Going from static to digital signage changes the stadium dynamic on game days, allowing better communication with fans and creating more opportunities to generate revenue through sponsorship placements. We also see a lot of potential for events and for content creators to be creative—they continue to think of ways to take advantage of the digital displays to foster engagement and energize the crowd."
LED scoreboards expand digital opportunities
Behind the south goal, a new 76-foot-wide, 25-foot-tall signature LED scoreboard composed of Lighthouse 10mm pixel pitch LED video screens provides more than 150 percent additional display area compared to the previous scoreboard. Originally, eight corporate partners shared fixed signage on the scoreboard. The new solution now allows those partners to be included in the digital experience, according to Todd Spear, senior vice president of corporate partnerships at the Portland Timbers and Thorns FC.
"When they were positioned next to one another on the previous scoreboard, those partners could sometimes get lost in the clutter, but once it became completely digital, it became a better story for them to tell," Spear said.
"During matches, we cycle through all our partners and they each get a certain amount of time with their logo displayed during the run of play. Fans are constantly looking at the scoreboard to watch replays and live action, which drives engagement and exposure around their brand. It's a great way to dynamically integrate our partners into the game experience."
The new LED scoreboard also gives the Timbers and Thorns FC greater control and customization with content. "It allows us to be nimble with replays, partner integration, live game action, community messaging, ticketing, merchandise, or concession specials," Spear said. "The ability to touch every department within our organization is fantastic and because the board is dynamic, we can change out content at a moment's notice."
With a larger digital footprint, multi-source viewing is also now possible, according to Jewsbury. "To show a replay on the old board we had to break away from live action, but now we can show replays and live footage concurrently," he said. "We can even have a replay sponsor to drive additional revenue."
A secondary 46-foot-wide, 16-foot-tall LED scoreboard also designed with Lighthouse 10mm pixel pitch LED video screens replaces a static sponsor signage in the stadium's northwest quadrant that previously would mimic the score on the primary scoreboard. Installed to provide viewing for the audience in the new three-tiered section, the second scoreboard mimics the content shown on the primary scoreboard
Exterior elevator shafts provide ideal video wall placements
What was once the blank exterior of the stadium's south elevator shaft is now a giant Lighthouse LED video wall in portrait orientation. During the design phase, the Timbers and Thorns FC considered different options for the blank surface, such as a rock wall or mural, but upon Planar's suggestion, elected to go with an 18-foot-wide, 42-foot-tall LED video wall installation with a 10mm pixel pitch.
With a grand vertical presentation, the LED video wall is the perfect canvas for player introductions, showing each athlete from the waist up, or to display a huge waiving flag during the national anthem. The LED video wall is also used to show stats and live footage during matches. "We are very impressed with the installation—it provides a cool, dramatic experience and has been a huge hit with fans," Jewsbury said.
On the lower portion of the northeast elevator shaft exterior, former static signage of a Tillamook Cheese block was replaced with a portrait-orientated 8-foot-wide, 20-foot-tall Planar CarbonLight™ CLO Series LED video wall with a 7.8mm pixel pitch (CLO7.8). "During matches, the Tillamook product on the video wall will subtly change based on what happens during the contest," Jewsbury said. "For example, content begins as mild cheddar but will switch to extra sharp cheddar if a goal is scored and fans notice."
LED ribbon boards and LCD displays contribute to stadium's modernization
The display technology improvements also feature three Lighthouse LED video arrays with a 16mm pixel pitch that are designed as continuous LED ribbon boards. The LED ribbon installations include a 307-foot-wide ribbon in the grandstand and a 97-foot-wide curved ribbon in the grandstand club, both in the stadium's east end. The third is a 128-foot-wide ribbon in Providence Park's Sunset Porsche Audi Suites, located in the stadium's northwest corner.
Additionally, a total of 87 Planar LCD displays are integrated throughout Providence Park in the stadium's concourse, concession areas, premium seating sections, team store and locker rooms. In each concession stand, two Planar LCD displays broadcast the game to ensure that fans visiting the concessions won't miss a play, which encourages more sales. The LCD displays are also used to advertise special merchandise and communicate other messages and information.
Full stadium takeovers electrify the crowd
The versatility and programming control that is available with the new display solutions allow what's called 'full stadium takeovers'—when a goal is scored, all digital displays turn either green and gold or red and black (the Timbers and Thorns FC colors, respectively), ushering in a very powerful moment across Providence Park. "The stadium comes to life," Jewsbury said.
"Overall, we are very happy with how the stadium integration turned out," Jewsbury said. "Every display offers the perfect resolution at their viewing distance. Planar being a local brand made this project very special. The digital technologies have elevated the video experience for fans in a massive way."