Don't Mess With Texas: Houston’s Reliant Stadium Unveils Record-Breaking Videoboard

In 2002, Houston welcomed back the NFL after the Oilers decamped to Nashville following the 1996 season. With the Texans’ arrival, the city opened Reliant Stadium, a state-of-the-art venue complete with the league’s first retractable roof and a 2,592-sq.-ft. SD videoboard. Eleven years later, the roof remains; the videoboard, however, was due for an upgrade.

Reliant Stadium now houses the largest in-stadium HD videoboard in the world.

Reliant Stadium houses the largest videoboard in the NFL, the widest in professional sports.

Reliant Stadium houses the largest videoboard in the NFL, the widest in professional sports.

Measuring 52.49 ft. long by an unprecedented 277.17 ft. wide for a total viewing area of 14,549 sq. ft., the videoboard bests previous recordholders for widest videoboard (Safeco Field, 57 ft. x 202 ft., 11,425 sq. ft.), widest end-zone videoboard (LP Field, 54 ft. x 157 ft., 8,478 sq. ft.), and largest NFL videoboard (AT&T Stadium, 72 ft. x 180 ft., 11,520 sq. ft.).

The Texans’ end-zone videoboard falls short of only Charlotte Motor Speedway and Dubai’s Meydan Racecourse for the largest HD videoboard anywhere. (A gargantuan 66- by 560-ft. videoboard is planned for Brazil’s Arena Corinthians, slated to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup opening match.)

“When we saw the real estate available and the value of what we could get for our money, it started to lead us towards something that looked to be in a record-breaking realm,” says Houston Texans President Jamey Rootes. “If you’re going to be right at it, you might as well go ahead and be bigger, right? … It wasn’t our going-in intention [to break records], but if, at the end of the day, we were a couple of feet short, I’m sure we would have stretched ourselves.”

A shot of the videoboard from last week’s home opener

The multiwindow format can be replaced by a single graphic or animation to boost fan engagement.

Manufactured by Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Vision Systems, the 1080i-capable videoboard was installed in time for the team’s two preseason games. A 561% increase in area over the previous display, the new board features a display resolution of 1000×5280 pixels with 4.4 trillion colors and 960-Hz refresh rate for jitter-free HD images, and a viewing area roughly the size of 3,050 40-in. LCD displays.

Because the control room had already been converted to HD, the Texans did not contract a systems integrator or consultant and required only a few technology upgrades, including a Click Effects Blaze system, to power the videoboard, and a Click Effects Crossfire, which will be used as a playback server.

“With the Click Effects gear and how we’ve laid it out, being able to go seamlessly between full-board animations, middle windows, integrated sponsor logos, and stats, there is a ton of flexibility,” says Gavin Gehrt, executive producer/director of video production, Houston Texans. “We’re not really set in hard real estate as far as ‘This is where this has to go all the time.’ There are multiple ways of putting video sources everywhere else.”

The Click Effects gear works in conjunction with an existing Vista Spyder presentation switcher and video-content–management system. To further support the board, the Texans installed a second EVS replay server for eight total channels of replay (up from four) and added network-television replay footage to the in-game presentation.

The multiwindow format can be replaced by a single graphic to boost fan engagement.

A shot of the video board from Sunday’s home opener

Additional fiber strands were laid between the control room, Reliant Stadium, and Reliant Center (an exhibit space adjacent to the stadium).

In addition to live video, which will be shown in the center of the board, the Texans will populate the display with in-game statistics, out-of-town scores, and fantasy-football updates. A digital clock and down-and-distance displays will replace the matrix versions that served the same purpose, and the entire board can be taken over with a single graphic or image if necessary. The Texans found that these elements were what fans wanted most from an in-venue video display, data that was informative yet not overwhelming or distracting.

“We ask our fans regularly [to] tell us about [their] experience: what worked, what didn’t work, how can we do it better?” says Rootes. “As long as we’re listening to what our fans are saying … [we] slowly but surely get to something that fits perfectly what the fans are looking for.”

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