Home to the New England Patriots football team and the New England Revolution soccer team, Gillette Stadium has hosted hundreds of games and millions of fans since its construction in 2002. While the success of these teams is founded most publicly in the talent of their rosters and coaching staffs, the contributions of their prolific—and profitable—fan bases cannot be overlooked. Home to the New England Patriots football team and the New England Revolution soccer team, Gillette Stadium has hosted hundreds of games and millions of fans since its construction in 2002. While the success of these teams is founded most publicly in the talent of their rosters and coaching staffs, the contributions of their prolific—and profitable—fan bases cannot be overlooked.
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Providing fans with a compelling stadium experience is, therefore, a fundamental imperative for The Kraft Group, the family-owned enterprise that controls Gillette Stadium, the surrounding fan village of Patriot Place, The Hall at Patriot Place, and both of the franchises who call Foxborough, MA their home. Included with a strong AV component for what you see is also what you don’t see—improved connectivity and wireless services, and a robust metrics collection system to inform marketing and executives about how fans are using the network.
Immersing Fans in the Pats’ Past, Present and Future
As part of a sweeping technology upgrade designed to increase fan engagement and replace outdated communication platforms, the Kraft Group drafted NanoLumens to install seven LED display solutions.
Four of these towering features were installed within The Hall at Patriot Place, the Patriots’ living celebration of the most meaningful contributors in team history. Three more displays were installed in the newly opened Optum Field Lounge, an innovative space that brings fans closer to the action than ever before with unprecedented sightlines to the playing field. Each of these solutions were specified and installed by HB Communications.
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“When the Kraft Group first undertook the initiative to redefine the fan experience for the 21st Century, they set out to work with companies that could live up to their imagination. These partners had to provide visualization solutions that set a new standard for interactivity and engagement,” said Dana Michaelis, director of sales, Northeast, NanoLumens. “We are proud to have served on their team. The result is a series of stunning visualization solutions that forge a closer bond between fans and their team.”
The install process itself was streamlined, thanks to the clever engineering of HB Communications. In order limit downtime for the high profile section of the Hall, HB experts adopted an odd schedule: each morning beginning at 6 a.m., they ferried equipment from the parking lot to the indoor space. “It was a bit of a struggle but we were able to do it with a lot of coordination,” said HB’s former account representative Andrew DeCesare, who worked on the project. “They didn’t want any significant down time for this part of the Hall. All the legwork we did on the front end made a huge difference.”
Field Displays Light Up Stadium
Shifting focus to the playing field, Daktronics, a longtime partner of the New England Patriots, contributed their expertise to the fan experience within the stadium. Their total of 10,000 sq. ft. of displays are capable of variable content zoning, allowing them to show one large image or divide the screen into multiple zones filled with any combination of live video, instant replays, scoring information, statistics, sponsor highlights, and animations.
The Daktronics displays at Gillette Stadium include their main end zone displays, existing fascia displays and freeform elements covering the stadium identification at each end of the field. The largest end zone display measures 41-ft. by 94-ft. The stadium improvements were phased in over a number of years beginning in 2010.
Daktronics’ indoor high-resolution product line features rapid processing technology, making it an ideal solution for the Patriots’ extremely close, fast-moving video content. Using the latest innovations in display system design, this series operates at half of the power consumption of an industry standard solution and is designed to effortlessly manage heat, creating a reliability advantage that offers superior performance and long lifetime, according to the company.
The Software Side of Football
The ultimate fan experience would not be complete without a robust wireless network to support social media connectivity, messaging, and network control. Extreme Networks provided a range of solutions to meet the networking needs of the improved stadium.
Gillette Stadium now has more than 1,100 Wave 2 access points (APs) provided by Extreme Networks. Nearly 650 of those APs were installed underneath the seats, with several wireless controllers managing the stadium's Wi-Fi. The vast majority of the APs inside the stadium are Extreme Networks’ 3800 and 3900 series of 802.11ac access points.
One critical real-time data point being monitored is social media. Networking partners monitor the social bandwidth being used from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, WordPress, and YouTube. The data allows marketing to make decisions about what platforms to use for promotions or specials on the fly—even during a game. These analytics provide an enhanced and customized fan experience.
The robust system also allows for tracking the wireless bandwidth and clients on the network. This is a fundamental and critical aspect to making sure fans get the most flawless Wi-Fi experience possible before, during, and after a game. The real-time data allows IT teams to discover, find, and locate network issues that must be fixed immediately.
The Patriots are using Extreme Networks' ExtremeManagement offering to provide end-to-end centralized visibility and granular control of network resources. The single-pane-of-glass management system offers wired and wireless control from the data center to the mobile edge aimed at optimizing network operations efficiency, while reducing total cost of ownership.
Interacting With Fans
The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon is a one-of-a-kind interactive attraction adjacent to Gillette Stadium. Throughout its exhibit galleries, the Hall showcases the tradition of the New England Patriots, explores the history of football in New England, and promotes math and science (and football!) education for the thousands of fans who visit each season.
To upgrade the display technology within The Hall, HB Communications installed four double-sided NanoLumens Engage solutions that attract visitors into the venue … and keep them engaged. The interactive displays, referred to as pylons, showcase short videos highlighting the Patriots’ enduring success. This content was tailored by Cortina Productions and is sent to the pylon displays by extenders from Gefen.
Each display stands 22-ft. tall by 4.5-ft. wide and sends eye-catching, visual elements that attract visitors into the 30,000-sq. ft. modern museum exhibit space. From the outside, 9MM pixel pitch solutions showcase the Patriots’ best players, past and present. Once inside, visitors can interact with the pylons by entering the name of their favorite Patriots player and then instantly view videos, photos, and statistics about the athlete’s career.
“LED technology has improved so much since we opened this building in 2008, it really pops for our visitors,” said Bryan Morry, the executive director of the Hall. “It’s such a dramatic improvement over what we had.”
To further engage with their season ticket members, the Patriots created Gillette Stadium’s first ever field-level space, also offering an array of video technology, including a 30-ft. by 9-ft. 2.5MM pixel pitch NanoLumens Engage product, and two 5MM 35-foot-long ribbon displays. Working with global design architecture firm Populous and Henderson Engineers, the 20,000-sq. ft. Optum Field Lounge offers unparalleled views and an event experience like no other that extends to private events like corporate receptions, holiday parties, galas, meetings, fundraisers, and more.
Telling the Whole Story
The new technology extends to other areas: a large rectangular display behind the podium in the press conference space, ribbon displays throughout the team’s locker room, and even some upgrades within some of the coaching facilities. All of these visualization experiences provide a continuity of experience.
The Patriots’ football legacy and its incredible brand narrative cannot be denied. Now, technology brings the history and story to life for their many fans—both on and off the field. No matter what their football record, guests will undoubtedly enjoy their enhanced fan experience thanks to the magic of LED.