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Sacramento Kings creating “21st Century Colosseum”

Golden 1 Center

Lines between tech and the sports experience keep falling, as virtually every new major facility opening in recent years or the near future, like Levi’s Stadium or SunTrust Park rely heavily on advanced technology. On the arena side, the Sacramento Kings (NBA) are making a credible effort to define the arena of the future.

Golden 1 Center, set to open this fall, will feature a host of advanced sports tech, including 4K videoboards, advanced fan connectivity and more. In fact, Kings owner and tech mogul Vivek Ranadivé lays out some pretty ambitious goals for Golden 1 Center, saying he and his team are working to create the 21st Century Coliseum:

Unlike the venues of yore, your experience with Golden 1 Center will begin the moment you even think about attending an event. Imagine as you peruse available ticket inventory, you are reminded which of your friends are planning to attend, and where they are sitting. Imagine being intuitively directed to open parking spaces, on a real-time basis, within the downtown corridor. Imagine being virtually prompted to the shortest routes, shortest wait times, or available reservations within the venue itself. Creating an environment where Golden 1 Center checks into you. We are designing a venue ecosystem that will anticipate and respond to your needs, on a hyper-individualized basis. As we detail in a new report released today, Golden 1 Center will truly be the first Colosseum for the Digital Age — the fastest and most connected indoor sports and entertainment venue in the world.

These days, connectivity means infrastructure, and there’s lots of infrastructure involved with Golden 1 Center. The Kings are bringing in some of the biggest names in tech, like Advantel Networks, Brocade and Ruckus Networks to supply essential services, such as a Brocade-designed 160-gigabit backbone that can handle over 500,000 Snapchat posts per second, a Ruckus-designed next-generation Wi-Fi installation with over 1,000 access points, and a 6,000-square-foot command and data center from Advantel. The connectivity will extend to the Downtown Commons area outside the arena as well.

Golden 1 Center

Of course, there’s a practical bonus to pushing tech — the tech companies become prime targets for sponsorships, something the Kings experienced when planning Golden 1 Center. A prime arena sponsor is Comcast Business, supplier of bandwidth to Golden 1 Center, including fully redundant transport facilities and two 100-gigabit Ethernet dedicated Internet circuits. The services will provide the back-end infrastructure enabling the team to provide free Wi-Fi for fans, power the Kings’ mobile app, and supply cloud-based voice and unified communications services for team members at the arena and at the team’s corporate offices. As a result, the Internet connection at Golden 1 Center and associated areas will be over 17,000 times faster than the average home Internet connection, according to the Kings. This is important, as apps like Instagram, WhatsApp, SnapChat and Telegram are emerging as important communication tools for the millennials and Generation Z.

Infrastructure is one thing; eye candy is another, and there will be plenty of high-tech eye candy at Golden 1 Center. The Kings are teaming up with Panasonic on the NBA’s first-ever 4K ultra HD center-hung videoboard. Totaling over 6,100 square feet, the center-hung videoboard will feature the largest screens in the arena world. The four-screen display will include two sideline screens that are over five times larger than the screens currently in use. Utilizing the latest in LED technology, totaling over 32 million pixels across the four screens, fans will have crystal clear views from anywhere in the arena along with immediate replays in 4K ultra HD — four times 1080 HD resolution. Spanning over 84 feet, the total length of the video board will extend nearly baseline to baseline — longer than the average length of an 18-wheeler semi-truck. The ribbon featured atop the video board will be 6 feet 3 inches and the main screens will be over 44 feet wide and over 24 feet tall.

Golden 1 Center

The 4K board won’t the only video fans are exposed to: they’ll be hit with high-tech images before they get close to the arena floor. To wit:

  • Two custom LED screens, standing over 25 feet tall, will welcome fans as they enter through the arena’s main doors, featuring fan-generated content, event information and more.
  • Over 600 HD video displays will be showcased throughout Golden 1 Center concourses, clubs and suites so fans don’t miss a second of the action on the court.
  • Over 1,500 feet of LED ribbon boards will be featured in the arena bowl providing fans with real-time information, including advanced statistics and aggregated social media content.

4K is clearly the future of video; it’s only a matter of time before Best Buy sells cheap Insignia 4K TVs and 4K is the default resolution on a new Direct TV installation. And more and more video in a public space is also clearly a trend. Add to that enough infrastructure to power a small city, tons of different seating options (club, lounge, etc.) and you have a pretty clear vision of what the next generation of arenas — new or renovated — will look like.

The $507 million Golden 1 Center is scheduled to open for the 2016-2017 NBA season. Design is by AECOM; the project manager is Icon Venue Group; and Turner is the lead builder.

Renderings courtesy Sacramento Kings. More information on Golden 1 Center here.

This article first appeared in the weekly Arena Digest newsletter. Are you a subscriber? You can subscribe to the free weekly newsletter here.

Golden 1 Center

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