One Season Down, Sacramento Kings’ Golden 1 Center Remains Tops in Tech
4K UHD video workflow and displays throughout the facility enhance the fan experience
After a hard-fought battle to keep the team from relocating, Sacramento Kings fans were rewarded with a state-of-the-art Golden 1 Center, which opened last October. With season one in the books, the NBA’s newest arena has certainly lived up to the expectation that it would also be the most technologically advanced.
The 17,608-seat arena, located in the heart of downtown Sacramento, features the NBA’s first-ever 4K UHD center-hung videoboard, a full 4K video workflow, and plenty of fan-facing technological elements to engage and entertain everyone who sets foot in the Kings’ new home.
At the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 30, Kings owner/Chairman Vivek Randivé took to the stage to say to the crowd, “Three years ago, I was able to say the most magical words ever. I stood at Sleep Train Arena, and I was able to say to all of you, ‘This is your team, and it’s here to stay.’ Today, I’ll keep it short: This is your new home.”
Entertaining Fans in Full 4K
Eight months before the ribbon was cut, the arena made headlines for what would be inside: the 4K UHD videoboard. The Kings partnered with Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Group (since rebranded as Panasonic Media Entertainment Co.) to design the one-of-a-kind board, which spans 84 ft. — nearly baseline to baseline.
At seven times larger than its counterpart at Sleep Train Arena, the Kings’ home for nearly 30 years, the videoboard comprises two 44- by 24-ft. sideline displays bookended by two baseline displays measuring approximately 24½ by 27½ ft. and a 6-ft.-tall ribbon board wrapping 252 ft. around the center-hung structure. In total, the giant display features more than 6,100 sq. ft. of LEDs with 3.5-mm pixel pitch.
“As we developed the project, the thought was what we could do to differentiate ourselves,” says Brian Plumb, senior director, A/V and production, Sacramento Kings and Golden 1 Center. “Looking at the LED available on the market at the time, it turned out that we could create a true 4K board with what was on the market. We partnered with Panasonic, they came up with the [design,] we laid that out on paper, [and] it turned out it would fit in the arena. … That led to the development of a 4K control room, which hadn’t been done in an arena before.”
The Kings partnered with Diversified and Grass Valley to convert a large back-of-house area originally designed as retail space into a 4K video-control room (the area that was originally intended to be the control room has become part of the arena’s 6,000-sq.-ft. data center, housing its impressive connectivity infrastructure). The control room features a wealth of technology from Grass Valley, including a 7M/E Karrera K-Frame production switcher, several NVISION routers paired with Kaleido multiviewers, two K2 Dyno replay servers with DynoZoom 4K UHD replay option, and a K2 Summit 3G four-channel HD-SDI server.
Needing cameras that can capture content in 4K UHD, the Kings selected six Grass Valley LDX 86 cameras, four of which are equipped with a 4K license. In addition, the team generally pulls six to eight camera feeds from the broadcast truck and upconverts the signals to play out on the videoboard.
Because of the size of the screen, the Kings position one camera across the bowl from the traditional game-follow camera position to create a reverse-angle feed.
“In a typical arena,” says Plumb, “you have a single view: when [the players] are running left to right and you’re looking at the screen and you’re on that side, they run left to right, but, on the opposite side, they’re running the opposite direction. We actually have it set up so that, when the players are running left to right, we see them run left to right on both sides of the screen.
“When I punch up camera one on the switcher,” he continues, “it [automatically] punches up camera two on the opposite side. It seamlessly cuts in that reverse-angle camera for the people that are on the opposite side of the arena.”
Editing, managing, and storing 4K content is a complex, often challenging endeavor, and the Kings have approached this undertaking with AJA Ki Pro 4K playout gear, Adobe editing suites, and a Quantum digital storage network.
Rounding out the video-control room, the Kings worked with Click Effects — under the Panasonic umbrella — to feed 1,500 ft. of Panasonic LED ribbon board and two Panasonic LED videoboards (each 25 ft. tall) on the plaza. For videoboard graphics, the Kings tapped Ross Video XPression to be the primary character generator and ChyronHego Duet for background CG.
Engaging Fans on Every Screen
In addition to the center-hung videoboard, the Kings have distributed more than 700 HD flat-panel TVs around Golden 1 Center to keep fans engaged and entertained throughout the game wherever they are. At Sleep Train Arena, the team relied on a modulated in-house cable system that required recabling every room in the arena with coax. With Golden 1 Center, the goal was the ability to leverage IP to manage the displays: updating concession options on one, for example, while promoting upcoming events on another and playing a live game feed on yet another.
The Kings selected VITEC’s broadcast-grade EZ TV 8.0 IPTV and digital-signage platform, an end-to-end system that enables the team to control hundreds of displays from a single platform. VITEC’s hardware-based IPTV and signage endpoints, along with its Blade System encoders, provide low-latency 1080p HD playback and precise synchronization from display to display. In total, the system allows the Kings to centrally manage and distribute up to 16 live feeds, 16 unique menu channels, 74 TV channels, and on-demand content on a location-specific basis. In addition, the system extends to mobile devices, engaging fans with live video and other video content on their smartphones and tablets.
“[When] we started working with VITEC,” says Plumb, “we started to ask, ‘Can you do this? Can you do that?’. They were very responsive with respect to looking for what we wanted to see, rather than telling us what they could do or what they couldn’t do. All in all, they were able to accommodate both the digital-signage needs that we had in the building as well as the IPTV requests through one system.”
Most Technologically Advanced Means Most Connected, Too
Kings fans can also stay connected on their mobile devices, thanks to the team’s partnership with Comcast. Comcast Business installed 200 Gb of backend infrastructure in the arena’s data center, which powers the team’s free Wi-Fi network for fans (which also includes 1,000 access points provided by Ruckus), the dual-mode team/venue app, and cloud-based voice and unified communications services for team personnel. Wayfinding technology provided by Cartogram helps fans navigate and interact with Golden 1 Center’s many fan offerings.
As the Downtown Commons, or DOCO, area around Golden 1 Center continues to be developed, the connectivity will expand to the surrounding areas as well.
Says Plumb, “I have worked for the last 31 years literally within 10 blocks of where I currently work, and just to see the transformation of this area since this arena started is unbelievable.”