Venue Display Report: An in-depth look at SoFi Stadium’s amazing videoboard

STADIUM TECH REPORT is pleased to welcome you to the latest issue of our VENUE DISPLAY REPORT series, with an in-depth report on perhaps the most innovative main stadium video board ever, the new Samsung dual-sided, 4K oval videoboard at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.

These long-form reports are designed to give stadium and large public venue owners and operators, and digital sports business executives a way to dig deep into the topic of digital display technology, via exclusive research and profiles of successful stadium and large public venue display technology deployments, as well as news and analysis of topics important to this growing market.

As venues seek to improve fan engagement and increase sponsor activation, display technology offers powerful new ways to improve the in-stadium fan experience while also increasing the bottom line for stadium business operations. Read on as we examine not just new display technology and successful deployments, but also study how display technologies can support successful marketing and advertising campaigns!

A special thanks is due here to sponsor Samsung, whose support allows us to make this content free to readers. We’d also like to extend a special thanks to the Samsung staff and the folks at SoFi Stadium for all their help in arranging remote interviews and to provide pictures and video so you can get at least a virtual sense of the amazing new technology that awaits visitors to SoFi Stadium. Looking forward to future visits!

Pac-12, Mountain West move to resume football seasons; Notre Dame, Tennessee Titans see outbreaks

Citing the availability of better, more rapid testing for Covid-19 infections as a main changing point, the Pac-12 conference last week announced it would “resume its football, basketball and winter sport seasons,” with football games possibly taking place starting Nov. 6.

While the announcement on the conference website noted that “the football season may now commence for those teams that have the necessary state and local health approvals,” the reversal of the conference’s original decision to suspend sports was somewhat expected, after the Big Ten also reversed its earlier suspension and when a new deal to provide more comprehensive testing for athletes was signed.

The Mountain West conference also announced its plans to resume football, after also suspending play earlier this year. However, the virus may yet have the last say in all sporting plans, with Notre Dame recently postpoing a game with Wake Forest due to a Covid-19 outbreak among the Notre Dame team. As of Tuesday, Notre Dame was reporting 25 active cases.

Also on Tuesday, the NFL reported an outbreak of the virus among the Tennessee Titans, which may or may not lead to games being suspended this weekend.

Big Ten votes to start football season in late October

In a somewhat stunning reversal, the Big Ten conference Wednesday had a unanimous vote from chancellors and presidents to start its football season the weekend of Oct. 23, after first suspending the season on Aug. 11, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While the Big Ten cited improved medical testing and screening as part of the reason why it reversed its earlier decision, reporting from Sportico notes that both political and economic pressure may have played a role in the decision, which comes even as Covid-19 cases continue to occur nationwide.

The start of other Power 5 conference seasons this past weekend may also have played a role in the Big Ten’s decision, even as those schools had poor compliance by fans to Covid-19 safety protocols for stadium attendance. So far, there have been no reports on whether or not Big Ten schools will allow fans to attend games, but most likely some will have limited-attendance plans to try to recoup some of the lost game-day revenue.

The Pac-12, which suspended its season the day after the Big Ten did, recently signed a deal for improved Covid-19 testing, which in recent reports suggest that at the very least the conference should be able to start basketball season sooner rather than later.

Weekend update: Some college football fans seem to ignore Covid-19 precautions

Well, the first “real” weekend of limited-audience experiments in college and pro football is now in the books, and from a fan-compliance standpoint, it is still very much a work in progress. While Mobile Sports Report wasn’t able to be at any of the games live, we did try to keep a finger on the pulse of what was happening via news reports and Twitter posts, the latter of course are always subject to the caveat that sometimes we simply can’t verify the validity of the posts.

But from corroborations on social media and from news reports, it was pretty obvious that at certain venues — especially Florida State and Oklahoma — fans, especially college students, were simply not adhering to the Covid-19 precautions put in place by the venues that were allowing fans to attend.

Since the Florida State game (a 16-13 loss to Georgia Tech) was on national TV on ABC, it was pretty easy for anyone to see that many in the limited-attendance crowd were not paying any attention to rules about masks and social distancing. The Tallahassee Democrat ran a story about the national reaction to the fans, and got this quote from FSU athletic director David Coburn:

“We were disappointed with some fans, particularly some student fans, at the Georgia Tech football game who did not comply with our policies regarding social distancing and wearing masks while in their seats,” FSU Athletic Director David Coburn said Sunday in a statement to the Democrat. “There was ample room for all fans to remain safely distanced. We have three weeks until our next home game, and we will re-double our efforts to both inform our patrons and improve compliance with the new rules.”

The bigger question that goes unanswered, of course, is why there was no attempt to enforce the Covid-19 rules.

Some similar behavior was on display at Oklahoma, where students also seemed to ignore Covid-19 precautions once inside the stadium. A story in the OU Daily has a photograph showing students massing close together, with minimal mask wearing. Though OU had protocols in place — like distance markers at concession stands — an attendee at the game noted that while “many followed the protocols a significant number [of fans] did not.”

Socially distanced fans (and band) at Notre Dame’s home opener. (Screen shot from NBC broadcast)

Notre Dame, on the other hand, seemed to have a better amount of buy-in from students on Covid-19 safety procedures. From what we could tell by watching the NBC broadcast of the Irish’s win over Duke, students (and the band) seemed to be complying well with social distancing in the stands and the wearing of masks.

Were the pro games better?

Two of the NFL games this weekend, including the Thursday night season opener in Kansas City, also allowed a limited number of fans, and as far as we can tell (from tracking Twitter and news reports) fans at those games largely followed the extensive procedures put in place ahead of the games. The Jacksonville Jaguars, who beat the Indianapolis Colts 27-20 in their home opener, had a full web page that described what fans needed to do to help keep everyone safe. With no reports of bad fan behavior in Jacksonville we are assuming most of the fans in attendance complied with the rules.

And while fans at the Kansas City Chiefs’ home opener may have earned some national derision for booing the players’ pregame solidarity moment, from what we could tell it looked like fans in the seats were staying apart and masked. Thanks to the Twitter feed of Tom Proebstle for his posts from Arrowhead.

Pac-12 suspends all sports through end of 2020

Following closely on the heels of the Big Ten, the Pac-12 conference Tuesday suspended all sports through the end of 2020, due to the ongoing complications of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“All of the Pac-12 presidents and chancellors understand the importance of this decision, and the disappointment it will create for our student-athletes, the coaches, support staff and all of our fans,” said Michael H. Schill, president of the University of Oregon, in a statement on the conference website. “Ultimately, our decision was guided by science and a deep commitment to the health and welfare of student-athletes. We certainly hope that the Pac-12 will be able to return to competition in the New Year.”

Big Ten postpones fall sports, including football, due to Covid-19 pandemic

The seemingly inevitable became fact Tuesday, when the Big Ten conference announced it was postponing all fall sports, including football, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren in the statement posted on the conference website. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”

The next question is whether or not other college conferences and schools will follow suit; rumors had surfaced Monday that the Pac-12 was set to make a similar announcement.