TAMPA BAY - As the Tampa Bay Lightning prepare for their 15th anniversary season, the St. Pete Times Forum and HiTech Electronic Displays have completed installation of “Lightning Vision”, the new center-hung video broadcasting center for the arena. The Times Forum’s old scoreboard (which was installed in 1996) has been removed and the new display, along with upper-level end zone amber scoreboard signs and a 360-degree full color video LED ring are in place. This full scoring and fan entertainment system will be tested and utilized to some extent during the Lightning’s preseason games. The full launch will take place on Thursday, October 4, as the Lightning open the 2007-08 regular season against the New Jersey Devils.
The broadcasting system technology is LED (light emitting diodes), which is the current state-of-the-art for large-screen video. The total number of LEDs is 9,465,856, which make up the 2,366,464 individual pixel light points that are capable of delivering limitless colors, patterns and configurations. The center ice broadcasting center totals 2,253 square feet of video capabilities, more than 500 percent of the capabilities of the Times Forum’s old scoreboard (432 square feet).
“This has been an extraordinary project,” said Ron Campbell, President of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the St. Pete Times Forum. “The design and engineering teams have been working to give the guests of the St. Pete Times Forum the very best experience possible.
“It is the most unique video entertainment system of its kind in our industry. The quality and size of the “Lightning Vision” video system will make every seat in the Times Forum feel that much closer to the action during live play and replays, and will allow us to deliver features and entertainment for hockey and all events like never before in an arena setting. Whether you are sitting near the ice or the last row of the building, you will feel the impact and power of the new system.”
The main broadcasting center, the first of its kind in the arena industry, is 15 ½ feet high and 106 feet wide (1,643 square feet) in a continuous 360-degree exposure that encompasses the entire board. An image can circle the video display uninterrupted. When broken apart, each of the four sides boasts a 39-foot 2-inch diagonal picture, as compared to a 14-foot 2-inch diagonal picture on main boards of the arena’s old jumbotron system. The pixel light points on the main video displays are placed 10 millimeters apart, offering Lightning fans a true high-definition feel while watching the video display.
The second component to the center hung display is the video halo which sits directly above the main game broadcasting video. This halo adds 610 square feet of video to the system. It is comprised of four 5-foot by 23 ½ -foot corner videos and four 7-foot by 5-foot corner videos which tie the system together. Each section of the new main broadcasting center can be “mapped” separately, meaning the Times Forum’s production department can send whatever image or video feed it desires to any section of the board at any time from its state of the art master control center, which itself was completely reconfigured to handle the new video systems.
In addition, “permanent” scoreboards have been installed at each end of the arena. The 144-foot amber scoreboard on the upper fascia over each end zone of the ice will continuously present the game clock, penalty clock and other scoreboard needs, including out of town scores.
“We at HiTech are very excited to work as part of the design, development and installation team on this extremely important project of the Lightning,” said Mike Mikurak, Chief Executive Officer of HiTech. “Our approach throughout this project has not only been focused from a business perspective but also from our eyes as fans. We look forward to bringing the fans of the Lightning a world class showcase that we can brag about for years to come.”
The video LED ring is 904 linear feet in length and 2 ½ feet in height, completely encompassing the arena’s lower fascia and offering fans 360 degrees of action, color and messaging. Thirty-two pixels high and 13,776 pixels wide, the video LED ring can be programmed from the master control center in conjunction with the main broadcasting center or completely separately, displaying any graphic or video information desirable.
Additionally, 296 feet of existing ring board signage was relocated from the Times Forum’s lower-level fascia to the upper-level fascia. It will run along the “sidelines” of the upper level. In total, the Times Forum now has more than one-quarter of a mile (1,488 linear feet) of full-color ribbon and amber signage populating the two in-arena fascias complementing the center hung video broadcasting center.
In addition to partnering with HiTech for the production and installation of the video systems, staff at the Times Forum and the Lightning utilized Virtu Consulting, LLC for lead design and development on the project.