Owners and operators of many sports stadiums already see the value in digital display technology and have deployed it widely, particularly as digital signage. While this is effective, especially relative to traditional static signage, display technology is quickly evolving such that it is capable of playing a richer and more comprehensive role, one that further engages fans and creates experiences that draw them back to the venue time and time again.
This is the case at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, new home of the Minnesota Vikings football team. Thanks to visionary leadership within the Vikings organization, and the extensive capability and creativity (notably in design of the interactive spaces) of its design-build partner, Dimensional Innovations (DI), U.S. Bank Stadium fans are the beneficiaries of extraordinary digital display technology.
Owners and operators of many sports stadiums already see the value in digital display technology and have deployed it widely, particularly as digital signage. While this is effective, especially relative to traditional static signage, display technology is quickly evolving such that it is capable of playing a richer and more comprehensive role, one that further engages fans and creates experiences that draw them back to the venue time and time again. This is the case at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, new home of the Minnesota Vikings football team. Thanks to visionary leadership within the Vikings organization, and the extensive capability and creativity (notably in design of the interactive spaces) of its systems integration partner, Dimensional Innovations (DI), U.S. Bank Stadium fans are the beneficiaries of extraordinary digital display technology.
It is a technology deployment – that includes many products from Planar, a Leyard Company – that interactively connects the Vikings to these fans in a way like no other, allowing them to feel part of the team – literally – and also to experience the Vikings’ path to greatness from day one to today.
This unique experience – called the Vikings Voyage – unfolds in an area of the stadium that is specifically dedicated to fans. It blends the traditional hall of fame and an ultra-modern experiential space. Here, along with traditional franchise artifacts, dozens of Planar displays form “interactives” that encourage ardent supporters, young and old, allowing them to enjoy game days in truly unique ways. “In Vikings Voyage, fans can feel like they actually are on the field catching passes, they can virtually run through warm-up drills, they can get a high-tech look at Vikings uniforms and gear and see how it has evolved technologically through the seasons.
The Planar-based interactive displays make all of this and more uniquely possible,” says Jenny Haag, Senior Manager, Stadium Partnerships for Minnesota Vikings Football.
“Vikings Voyage also works so well because of all that Dimensional Innovations brought to the project,” says Haag. This, she adds ranged from conception and design, to construction of the museum space, to selection and deployment of the many Planar displays. “It’s important to note that a feature available on nearly all the Planar displays – and an important selection factor for our company – is multitouch technology,” says Curtis Walker, Technology Director of Dimensional Innovations. “The integration and operation of this feature is important for our users to engage with the various interactives, as this is what they are familiar with their smart phones and tablets.”
DI specified displays for seven interactive areas in Vikings Voyage. A centerpiece area, called “Battle Armor”, features two 55-inch Planar® LookThru™ OLED Transparent OLED displays. These breakthrough displays utilize cuttingedge Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) technology to eliminate the need for a backlight or enclosure. Users can view content on the glass display and are also able to see through it. In this case, they are looking at mannequins behind the display, each of which is wearing a different Vikings uniform, one from the 1960’s, one from the 1990’s and one the Vikings wear today. The interactive experience enables a fan to touch the display to see graphics and text about the helmet or other parts of the uniform in order to learn more about how these items have changed over time. “It’s a unique way to educate people about the different gear football players have been using through the years and the ways technology has been integrated into helmets and shoulder pads, for example, to keep players safe,” DI’s Walker says.
“Speed Prevails” is one of five interactives that make use of another display, the Planar® PS Series. These products were chosen by DI as a result of their durable commercial design, 24x7 operating capability, reliable LED backlight, thin profile, built-in interactivity and exceptional brightness. Upon starting Speed Prevails (a fan’s RFID wristband activates the game), one or two players enter a floor-lit area where they take part in a 10-yard shuttle run as the Vikings would do in practice. A 46-inch Planar PS Touch display shows each player’s speed during the drill and compares it to that of a Viking player shown running it on the Planar PS Touch display. A 70-inch Planar PS Series display acts as a scoreboard, allowing each player to see how they performed in comparison to other fans who took part in Speed Prevails that day.
Two Planar PS Series displays are also used in an interactive called “Prove Your Honor”, in conjunction with virtual reality (VR) technology. Here, a VR helmet puts a fan on the field where he or she attempts to catch passes thrown to them by the Viking quarterback. “The Planar PS Series display lets the crowd in the area see what you are experiencing in the VR helmet and how you perform in the drill. It builds interest, creates excitement, and makes the game more inviting,” Walker says. Other Planar PS Series displays activate games in which fans can experience Vikings’ tackling sled exercises, and jump height drills. On another, they can have their Vikings Voyage interactive performances tagged to appear on their favorite social media sites.
In the “Lore of the North” section, three of the 43-inch Planar® Simplicity Series LCD displays help bring to life historical Vikings football in the form of high definition videos, motion graphics and stunning photography. The displayed content coexists with real artifacts – such as pieces of the goalposts from the Vikings previous stadium home – creating a unique historical experience. “This experience far exceeds a typical sports museum,” says DI’s Curtis Walker. “It was a great collaboration with the Vikings team, which is what makes this project so effective. The choice to go with Planar was an easy one on our part. The displays have to be reliable and look great, which Planar has a proven track record of providing.”
“For our part, Vikings Voyage is our way of giving back to the many, many loyal Minnesota Vikings fans,” says Jenny Haag. “It is a celebration of the team’s new home, and the work by DI and Planar is allowing us to say thank you to fans who stood with us through the years, and to connect to new and younger fans in a way that creates a bond with the team that we hope will continue to sustain and grow.”