When an Olympic-Bound Team Came to Train, This Facility Turned to Digital Signage

When an Olympic-Bound Team Came to Train, This Facility Turned to Digital Signage
  • When the U.S. Field Hockey Team says it wants to make your sports facility its training base, you listen—even if it means shortening by half the construction schedule on the unfinished complex. Serving as the training hub for Olympic-bound field hockey players is just one aspect of Spooky Nook Sports’ unique position. The 700,000-square-foot facility, located outside Lancaster, PA, is also the largest indoor athletic center in the U.S.

At Spooky Nook, a 700,000-square-foot facility, located outside Lancaster, PA, digital signage allows the managers to get information out to a massive number of people at a faster pace.

Under one roof, Spooky Nook houses numerous athletic fields and courts, rock climbing walls, a retail store, a food court, an arcade, orthopedic and physical therapy offices, conference and convention space, a fitness and sports performance center, and more. It sits amid more than 50 acres of outdoor sports fields.

Spooky Nook’s goal is to offer entertainment for the whole family, such as shopping, eating, and playing in the arcade, while children participate in sports. Because Spooky Nook is so large, it needed an efficient way to communicate different types of information with a lot of people across a wide variety of spaces—everything from menu boards in the food court to maps in the main lobby. Digital signage proved to be the most practical solution.

“In Spooky Nook’s 14-acre facility, our printed signs have a way of getting lost,” said Stephanie Jordan, Spooky Nook’s marketing manager. “Spooky Nook Sports can easily host 3,000 to 5,000 people on a normal weekend. The digital signs allow a place for us to get information out to a massive number of people quickly.”

The signs had to be easily programmable so they could rapidly transition from displaying room-specific information to a facility-wide alert. Some of the signs are located in thoroughfares where people walk by in 30 seconds, while others are in gathering places where they might linger for 20 minutes—and those varied uses require content adapted to the specific needs. Since all the staff was new, they needed to be trained in the different modes of signage and their capabilities.

All of this needed to happen fast. Spooky Nook originally secured the integrator ConnectedSign for an 18-month window that shrunk to nine months once the field hockey team signed its contract. “Having an Olympic team in our facility attracts the crowds,” Jordan said. “Thus, we needed to have our signs working to help with wayfinding around our facility.”

Spooky Nook gave ConnectedSign full agency to select the right hardware, install it, and even design the graphics. Though the integrator has tackled projects bigger than Spooky Nook, owner Loren Bucklin said it was the most rapidly deployed installation of this complexity that he’s encountered.

“Spooky Nook is implementing just about every possible use for digital signage, all under one roof,” he said. ConnectedSign, a certified member of the Women’s Enterprise National Council, deals in all major digital signage brands, but Bucklin said he considers only a few truly commercial-grade. “NEC is our go-to,” he said. “The support they provide is the driving force. We have a relationship with them that goes beyond sending business to them.”

The brightness and sharpness of NEC’s V423 and V552 displays are designed to capture an audience’s attention in a variety of settings, including shops, restaurants, conference spaces, and training facilities.

Bucklin also knew its high-end, commercial-grade screens could handle the workload and long hours at Spooky Nook. On top of the reliability, the screens are sleek and professional looking, which enhances the look and feel of the space.

So far, ConnectedSign has installed 35 NEC displays in Spooky Nook’s first phase, with another 60 to come before that side is complete. The products installed include nine 42-inch V423 high-performance LED-backlit displays with integrated speakers; 12 55-inch V552 high-performance LED-backlit displays; one 2X2 video wall bundle, featuring four 55-inch X551UN-TMX4P ultra narrow bezel displays; and 21 OPS-PCAFQ- PH media players.

The brightness and sharpness of the V423 and V552 displays are designed to capture an audience’s attention in a variety of settings, including shops, restaurants, conference spaces, and training facilities—in other words, nearly every venue found at Spooky Nook.

The Open-Pluggable-Specification-compliant expansion slot makes it easy to embed the displays with a PC without worrying about external cables in a public space. They’re also capable of running for extended periods of time while consuming power efficiently, making it a choice that’s good for both the environment and Spooky Nook’s pocketbook.

Ultra-narrow bezels on the X551UN video wall make the four individual displays appear as one seamless screen. The resulting video wall is easy to configure, with a uniform picture that works for both dynamic digital signage and information display. On the wall, Spooky Nook displays both imagery, including pictures of recent events, as well as text, such as a balloon with its Twitter feed. One of the hallmarks of the installation is an interactive kiosk that visitors can use not just to navigate Spooky Nook’s sprawling acreage but also to search shuttle bus schedules or find a nearby pizza joint. Spooky Nook realized it could integrate promotions into the kiosk as well by having local restaurants pay to have coupons or discounts appear, creating a marketing triangle between the sports center, local businesses and visitors. ConnectedSign works on projects across North America but coincidentally is located just a few miles from SpookyNook. That proximity will remain beneficial even after installation is complete. “Customers need a place to look and see and touch,” Bucklin said. “We have a beautiful showroom with NEC products, and now right down the road we have this other great showroom.”

The integrator will also be able to offer Spooky Nook continued content support. It’s easy to put static content on a display, for example, but it’s hard to keep things simple when it’s an interactive kiosk. Luckily, he said, NEC partner Four Winds Interactive’s digital signage software is one of the easiest on the market to use. ConnectedSign set up a process so templates could be re-tasked, and it will continue to help update the graphics and train the Spooky Nook staff so eventually they can refresh the kiosks themselves.

That adaptability has been crucial as Spooky Nook’s audience grows. The owner envisioned most of the guests would be families with children involved in sports and athletes training for high-level competition. But another group has emerged as well: Teenagers who used to loiter at the mall are practicing in the batting cages, playing in the arcade, and shooting hoops on the basketball court. They’re seeking out Spooky Nook as a more constructive after-school hangout—a surprising but rewarding outcome. But whoever the audience, the signs have made Spooky Nook a welcoming environment.

“The digital displays are very helpful for getting important information to the crowds, as well as for cross marketing other areas of our facility,” Jordan said. “We are still learning their capabilities, but there is no telling what we can do with them.”

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