- 70,000-square-foot videoboard developed by Samsung is largest of its type in the sports industry
- Double-sided oval design aims to engage every part of the facility
- Technology constructed to not interfere with distinctive translucent roof
The National Football League’s Los Angeles Rams, set to move this summer into the new $5bn SoFi Stadium with fellow team the Los Angeles Chargers, recently detailed plans to have attendance limited during the 2020 season to about 15,000 people for each game in the 70,000-seat venue because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Chargers have similarly told their season ticket holders to plan on reduced attendance this season.
But even amid those safety-driven plans, one of the largest and technologically advanced fan engagement tools in sports industry history now stands ready.
SoFi Stadium construction personnel recently completed the installation and testing of a 70,000-square-foot videoboard. A mammoth, ring-shaped structure, the SoFi Stadium videoboard is roughly triple the combined video display area of the Dallas Cowboys’ center-hung scoreboards at AT&T Stadium that a decade ago helped open up a bold new era in sports facility videoboards.
Developed by Samsung, the double-sided videoboard in the Inglewood, California-based facility features the sports industry’s first fully native 4K video production in a stadium and 80 million pixels, weighs more than 2m pounds, stretches to 120 yards in length, and is both longer and wider than the field of play. For now, it also carries the mantle of the largest videoboard in sports.
“The videoboard is unlike anything else in live sports, particularly from a venue perspective,” says Jason Gannon, managing director of SoFi Stadium and the Hollywood Park mixed-use development. “This is really the very best videoboard in live sports. And besides the size, it was really important to create the dual-sized nature of the board in order to really engage the entire seating bowl.”
The SoFi Stadium scoreboard in particular shows some design influences from another NFL facility, Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Georgia, home of the Atlanta Falcons. That venue is known in part for its 63,000-square-foot “Halo Board” developed by Daktronics that also sits as a ring above the field, and prior to the arrival of SoFi Stadium was the prior standard bearer for the largest video display in pro sports.
But just three years after that facility opened, the SoFi Stadium videoboard has more total video display area, is the only two-sided oval centerhung videoboard in a sports venue, and also features 56 5G mobile antennas.
“We are proud to outfit the stadium with an iconic, first-of-its-kind, double-sided 4K LEd display to ensure that each fan has a unique experience every time they visit Hollywood Park,” says Harry Patz, Samsung Electronics America senior vice president and general manager. “SoFi Stadium will instantly become one of the NFL’s most-talked-about stadiums.”
The development of the SoFi Stadium videoboard arrived with a pair of key aspirations that guided its overall development and design.
First, and much like the inherent challenges at every other NFL venue, was to find a way to engage every fan in the seating bowl and give them a compelling reason to leave the comforts of home to attend a live game.
That meant developing a videoboard that fully reaches every part of the venue, differing many other stadiums that have dead spots where fans can’t see the primary videoboard, and take full advantage of SoFi Stadium’s total footprint of more than 3m total square feet.
“Every building is unique and every videoboard is unique. The mandate from [Rams owner and lead developer of SoFi Stadium] Stan Kroenke to the design team and construction team was to build a board that engaged 100 per cent of the seating bowl, fans sitting in every seat of the building,” Gannon says.
“You’ll have incredible sightlines to the board if you’re up high, and incredible sightlines if you’re sitting down low. And when you think about designing something this size, you have to look at the building itself. It’s more than 3m square feet. That size gave us a unique opportunity to do something really special inside of the seating bowl,” he says.
The second main goal for the scoreboard development was to offer that level of immersion and fan engagement without getting in the way of perhaps SoFi Stadium’s most notable design feature: the translucent, ethlylene tetraflouroethylene (ETFE) roof that is aimed to be a lightweight alternative to glass and provide abundant natural light and an indoor-outdoor feel to the facility. That ETFE roof covers both the stadium and adjacent pedestrian plaza, and the videoboard hangs from it.
“The center-hung nature of the videoboard itself is really a design feature that allows for the sightlines not only inside the building but also to outside the building,” Gannon says. “One of the great things about Los Angeles, and something this building really embraces, is the indoor-outdoor lifestyle that people have come to enjoy here. Having the board as it is really allows us to have sightlines to outside the building. It is something that really takes advantage of where we are in Los Angeles, too, looking out into the Santa Monica Mountains and out toward Palos Verdes.”
Prior to the arrival of the pandemic, stadiums officials planned on more than 80 personnel staffing the videoboard and creating content for the platform during events. Plans are still being finalized with the Rams and Chargers as to the exact programming plans for the upcoming 2020 NFL season given the reduced attendance plans. SoFi Stadium itself is more than 97 per cent complete, with Gannon’s construction team now running through final tests and inspections.
But if other US pro leagues that have recently resumed play with no fans in attendance are any indication, the scoreboard will still be actively in use this fall.
“We’ll work with each team,” Gannon says. “Each team will have a unique experience on gameday, whether there are fans in the building or there are no fans. Inside the bowl, there is more than 90,000 square feet of LED displays, 70,000 square feet of that being the scoreboard itself. So having that amount of digital display affords us a tremendous amount of flexibility to navigate between the teams and non-NFL events, both in the near-term with perhaps a fanless environment, and over the long term when the building is fully occupied.”