It might well have been the most beautiful yet underutilized space in all of sports. The AmericanAirlines Arena, home of the Miami HEAT, had an outdoor concrete plaza with a view of Biscayne Bay; but instead of capitalizing on the space’s stunning view and 34,000 square feet of real estate, the area sat vacant and unattended for eighteen years. The Miami HEAT wanted to transform the outdoor plaza and create a space that was an extension of the concourse, one that gave their fans a place to congregate before and after games, as well as for parties, concerts, and other local events. It was meant to be a place where fans could enjoy themselves and beat the traffic, while also creating an immersive experience well worth the investment of game tickets. But the space was uncovered and open to the elements, a difficult environment in Miami where humidity can reach 100%, temperatures regularly hit 95 degrees, and “sun showers” blow in and out with only a moment’s notice.
The Miami HEAT had a vision: transform the space by making it an extension of the arena itself, so that it appeared to be a seamless part of the venue and not an addition. Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer, John Vidalin led the charge. After deciding to cover the plaza in a custom solar canopy from NRG, Vidalin and his team went about the task of making it visually engaging. From the start, the Miami HEAT knew the importance of going digital, and with all the money the team invested in the design of the space and the solar canopy, boring static signage just wouldn’t do. Rather, Vidalin wanted something original – something that would take fans’ breath away. The Miami HEAT’s Dave Vickery, Director of Broadcast Services and owner of all things digital in the stadium, was looking for something iconic, unique and that would be a fit for the new environment. As the only company with patented curve technology and the vision and ability to wrap the plaza’s concrete building columns, NanoLumens brought the vibrancy of fine pitch LED to the space with the industry’s first outdoorrated fine pixel pitch LED technology.
Vickery worked with the NanoLumens design team to custom-build five cylindrical LED displays made on stainless steel frames that could withstand Miami’s weather and high winds. They also built a stage with a 16’ by 18’ rectangular digital display mounted behind it. The digital displays were designed to work with the plaza’s music, lights, and sound, creating a truly immersive experience for fans and visitors.
The transformation of the space has been successful beyond the HEAT’s initial aspirations, and the once-underutilized outdoor area is now a place that fans don’t want to leave. The Xfinity East Plaza is now open two hours before tipoff and stays open post game as well, with music, multiple bars and kiosks for purchasing team gear.
The new and “substantial” revenue stream from the plaza has emerged with the additional help of new sponsorships, such as title sponsor XFINITY, as well as NRG, Bacardi, and a premium naming right extension with AmericanAirlines. The displays are a dynamic advertising tool that, in addition to creating a whole new revenue stream, is used to promote upcoming events and provide information about HEAT players. In order to maintain a level of exclusivity to the plaza, the Miami HEAT only makes the ability to advertise in the space available to eight to ten premium partners.
Five 4.7mm pixel pitch Gallery Series Outdoor displays were wrapped around concrete columns dotting the plaza, with an additional 4.7mm pixel pitch rectangular display installed behind the stage. The six Outdoor Gallery Series solutions that were installed at the arena were built for a “salt fog” environment, where each display can withstand the corrosive ocean air, operate seamlessly in temperatures up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, and in wind speeds exceeding 186 miles per hour.
The Outdoor Gallery Series is the world’s first true curved, outdoor LED solution that can be built in any size, shape or curvature in pixel pitches ranging from 4mm to 9mm; and it is engineered to perform optimally in all types of outdoor environments.