Case Study: VITEC EZ TV IPTV, Digital Signage Raises Fan Experience at Northwestern University’s Welsh-Ryan Arena
Northwestern University (NU) is revving up the game-day experience for Wildcat fans at its newly renovated Welsh-Ryan Arena. The arena in Evanston, Illinois, was renovated in 1983 and serves as home court for its basketball, volleyball, and wrestling teams. The venue had been largely untouched since its opening and to make way for the $110 million renovation, the school completely gutted the existing structure. The mission was to create an environment that would feel both intimate for fans and intimidating to visiting teams. Seating capacity was adjusted to just over 7,000 seats to create one of the world’s most accessible arenas, while giving every spectator a great view of the court and allowing room for the new Wilson Club premium seating area. The other priority for transforming the fan experience was focused on replacing the CATV system and implementing the best video technology available. NU improved the fan visual experience by installing a four-sided center court videoboard and LED ribbon displays around the arena. To carry the on-court action outside, more than 75 displays were installed around the concourse, at the concessions, and within the Wilson Club.
With the goal of delivering a state-of-the-art fan experience at the forefront of the planning process, the organization required an IPTV and digital signage system that could do more than just display video and concession signs. NU needed a solution that would distribute live content as high-quality IPTV streams in low latency to every screen and would offer a selection of IPTV channels from multiple service providers. Additionally, the digital signage solution needed to easily allow the school to create sharp, dazzling video content, compelling digital signage campaigns, and point-of-sale menu boards at the arena’s concession stands. The final item on the checklist was a centralized, user-friendly interface that the school’s small broadcast operations staff and sponsorship team could easily manage from the broadcast control building, adjacent to the arena.
Wanting the best-in-class fan experience, Brian Baptiste, the school’s deputy director of athletics for capital projects and operations, spent time researching the IPTV setups of many leading collegiate and professional sports teams. During this process, Baptiste and the NU team were made aware of VITEC’s EZ TV IPTV & Digital Signage Solution for Sports Venues by the digital integration group within Mortensen, the GC for the renovation. The NU team learned that VITEC was the premier platform for some of the nation’s most state-of-the-art sports and entertainment venues, including the Sacramento Kings’ Golden 1 Arena and the Green Bay Packers’ Lambeau Field.
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