With the college football season about to wrap up and the National Football League now beginning its playoff round, the sports scene is slowly shifting toward basketball at all levels. Consider Daktronics ready for the action.
The Brookings, South Dakota-based company provided 431 video displays totaling more than 64,000 square feet for 87 venues ranging from high schools all the way to the professional level for the 2016 season. Of those displays, 81 are for professional, 302 are for college and 48 are for high school basketball.
“This year is much like any other year as teams and venues started preparing for the 2016 basketball season months in advance, and we’ve worked along with their timelines to provide hundreds of LED solutions to enhance the fan experience at their events,” said Will Ellerbruch, Daktronics national sales manager for the live events market. “We’re proud to have the manufacturing capability and capacity right here in the United States to provide such a large number of customers with the digital solutions they need to make their events successful.”
Of the 87 venues, 19 received centerhung configurations featuring multiple displays hanging above the basketball court. Stanchion displays mounted to the supports of the basketball hoops is becoming increasingly popular around the country as venues and sponsors are capitalizing on their value. In total, Daktronics has installed 30 stanchion displays across seven venues in 2016.
Locations such as Littlejohn Coliseum at Clemson University are pushing the envelope by incorporating unique curved displays inspired by installations at the professional basketball level into their facilities to bring unique experiences to their fans.
At the high school level, incorporating LED video displays brings an impact that has coaches, student-athletes and fans feeling like they’re at a professional game.
“We’re excited for all of our schools that have installed our video displays,” said Tom Coughlin, Daktronics national sales manager for the high school market. “In addition to enhancing facilities and the game-day experience, these video displays are a providing a huge source of revenue for schools through sponsorship sales. We’re also changing the game for students who are operating the displays by providing educational opportunities in all facets of game-day operations.”
Claude Molinari, general manager of SMG/Cobo Center, announced the completion of a $2 million technology upgrade for Cobo Center. The work includes an upgraded Nortel core switch that distributes the Wi-Fi signal and along with several new Nortel edge switches located throughout the center.
“For the visitors that use our Wi-Fi network, these upgrades will be like moving from a one lane highway to a three lane super-speedway,” Molinari said.
System improvements also include upgrading Wi-Fi access points to 802.11ac Aruba APs and increasing the number of APs to 400 throughout the facility. The network location of APs and configuration will be remapped based on events’ anticipated high use of Wi-Fi in specific areas. This pre-planning creates design cost-effective networks that support uninterrupted digital services while minimizing cross-channel interference that can result from excessive and disorganized access points. The organic design smooths out the user’s experience and gives them “more on ramps” to the network.
These Wi-Fi upgrades will allow 32,000 simultaneous users on the network. With device/client counts increasing every year for Cobo, the wireless continues to process ever increasing amounts of bandwidth per device/client and the upgrades will assure a fluid user experience. Some Cobo event Wi-Fi traffic examples include:
2016 SEIU: 6,516 unique clients, 1.8TB of data traffic
2016 NAIAS Press Week: 14,640 unique clients, 3.06TB of data traffic
2015 NAIAS Press Week: 9000 unique clients, 1.3TB of data traffic
Discovery during pre-event planning for a show in Cobo Center may reveal estimated high usage, in which case, the Technology Services department is prepared to add more APs to smooth out the user’s experience and allow for a greater number of guests and their wireless devices to access the Internet at ever-increasing speeds. Visitor use of WiFi service has always been free throughout Cobo Center.
To create a more flexible WiFi network, the ClearPass Access Management System was installed to create an integrated platform, allow coherence of private networks and create a WiFi splash page for the facility-wide “CoboFree” WiFi network, that will require users to click through a splash page designed to highlight sponsors or include advertisers, thus generating event revenue.
The biography for Peter Sagal, the keynote speaker at this year’s Performing Arts Managers Conference (PAMC) from February 26-March 1, lists him as an acclaimed radio host, author and humorist. You might want to add salesman to the plaudits as the Chicago resident readily shares what will make this year’s 25th annual PAMC a special and memorable one in the Windy City.
“I’ve been pretty much everywhere in America, but I think Chicago is the finest city in the country,” the host of National Public Radio’s Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! unabashedly confides during a telephone interview. “If the weather wasn’t so awful, everyone else would think so, too.”
See, we told you he is a humorist.
“In terms of one of the reasons that people live in the city, Chicago has got it all,” he continued. “It is a huge ethnic melting pot. There are so many communities to be a part of that makes it incredibly rich as a civic body. I have never been in another city with a better arts scene. We have created outstanding civic support.”
As a New Jersey native who also spent time living in Los Angeles, Sagal is at home in Chicago and is the host of a radio show heard by more than three million people every week, broadcast on 450 public radio stations nationwide and via a popular webcast. The show received the prestigious Peabody Award in 2008, the same year it celebrated its 10th anniversary.
“The main thing about Chicago in terms of its performing arts scene is you have a tremendous pool of talent and there is enough work here to support them,” he said. “It has a great economic balance between actors and artists to perform and live and work here, but mainly it has an audience.
“For example, I lived in Los Angeles for a while. There are a lot of very talented performers there. You might think why aren’t they doing more theater? The answer is nobody (hardly) goes to the theater in LA. There’s just not an audience unless you are famous at something.
“In Chicago, there is a vibrant and interested and excited audience of people who are not necessarily in the business but just like going out to see things. They support a whole bunch of theaters, large ones, small ones, medium ones. It’s wonderful to be in the city where performers are performing not just for their friends or for professional affiliations but for an actual engaged civilian audience.”
While Sagal sells Chicago, attendees at this year’s PAMC will be sold on Sagal. The interview continues next week with a look at his theater background and lifelong love for the arts.
Oak View Group (OVG) announced the acquisition of Venues Today, a leading live entertainment and venue trade publication and media company. In addition to the acquisition, award-winning live entertainment journalist Ray Waddell has joined OVG as senior vice president of media and conferences.
In his new role, Waddell will oversee the Venues Today print publication, venuestoday.com, the e-newsletter, VTPulse, as well as the company’s directories and conferences. Venues Today founder, publisher and editor Linda Deckard will remain with the publication and continue to lead the newsroom as publisher.
“Venues Today is the voice of record for our industry and a key acquisition for OVG in bolstering our media portfolio,” said OVG CEO Tim Leiweke. “Linda is an icon in this business and has built an incredible brand, and with Ray now at the helm the potential to grow that brand and its reach is unlimited.”
“I’ll always be grateful to Billboard for providing me the opportunity to cover this dynamic industry, and I wish nothing but the best for the brand going forward,” added Waddell. “If I’ve learned anything in covering this business, it’s that change is to be embraced, and I am thrilled to play a role in the game-changing vision of Tim Leiweke and the incredible OVG team. Stay tuned!”
During his three decade run with Billboard, Waddell spearheaded the trade’s successful touring conference in addition to leading its coverage of the industry. With OVG, Waddell will oversee OVG’s move into the media and event sector and look to build out a robust conference program under the Venues Today brand.
“This is a tremendous opportunity not only for us to work with visionaries such as Tim and Ray, but to experience powerful growth for the Venues Today brand by tapping into OVG’s resources and expertise,” said Deckard.
The news of OVG acquiring Venues Today follows the company’s recent investment in sports technology media company SportTechie in November.
The Saratoga Springs (NY) City Center Authority Board announced the appointment of Ryan McMahon as the new executive director of the Saratoga Springs City Center. McMahon begins his new position on January 1 and replaces Mark Baker, the venue’s only executive director since it opened in 1984.
McMahon has been with the venue since 2011 as operations manager and in fact will spend a busy New Year’s Eve as some regional bands will perform in three different rooms at the venue before being ushered outside at midnight for a fireworks gala. Even that event bears some familiarity for McMahon as prior to coming to Saratoga Springs he was the director of the Times Center, the New York Times’ premier performance, events and convention venue in Times Square.
“It will be a busy night, that’s for sure,” McMahon said. “We will have several thousand people coming through during the course of the night. It’s a big city celebration and quite a way for me to transition.”
After working at the venue for better than five years, McMahon has a strong sense of the challenges and opportunities before him.
“Our website needs an overhaul,” he said in talking about challenges. “We are going to look at technology. We know we need to establish a greater social media presence. We are very fortunate that our bookings are strong going forward. While we are working on a marketing campaign, it is not really going to be for the immediate future, but more for 2018 and 2019.
“We know that we are facing some other challenges. New York state has a bunch of new casinos coming online and one is about 30 minutes up the road in Albany. There is also a new convention center opening up in downtown Albany. So we have some new competition. I think our position is really strong, though. We can offer something that really no one else can which is a safe, walkable city with a robust business downtown.”
As for the City Center’s business activity, McMahon cited the strength of several state associations and conferences that choose to meet at his venue.
“We are close enough to Albany and kind of central in the state itself, so a lot of state associations come here,” he said. “That has been the lynchpin of this business. As with every convention center, it’s about driving hotel rooms.”
McMahon noted that when the City Center opened in 1984, Saratoga was primarily known as a summer tourist town with a big race track presence. “The legend was you could shoot a cannonball down Broadway and not hit anyone,” he said.
Baker and the venue proceeded to turn tourism into a year-round happening, thanks in large part to Baker’s many civic involvements to help drum business for the venue.
“Mark’s contributions to the community have just been outstanding,” McMahon said. “He has always been at the forefront when something needs to be done in town.”
McMahon plans to continue the proud legacy. His wife, Colleen Parker McMahon, is a Saratoga native.
“I said to my wife that I loved what I was doing in New York City, but there are so many people there,” McMahon said. “I wanted to be some place where what I am doing matters to the community, not that it didn’t matter in New York, of course. But it’s hard to find a better position than working at the Saratoga City Center and the town of Saratoga.
“We said that there are three variables in life: what you do, what you make and where you live. Most people average those out but we decided to spike where you live as high as we could and work the rest out from there. It’s the best recipe for success I can think of.”