No doubt. American football – college and professional — is one of the MOST watched sports in the United States and around the world.
Imagine a spectator watching the 1st NFL Super Bowl back in 1967 live at the Los Angeles Coliseum: the stadium was an “Olympic style” setting with running tracks and equipped with only the basic amenities. But it was likely one of the most exciting events at the time. No flashy oversized scoreboards, no spectacular lighting, no digital experience, but fans had tremendous enthusiasm and love for their favorite sport. Giant viewing screens were unheard of and just simply unimaginable.
Put that same spectator at Super Bowl LII (52) in 2018 and it’s a different ball game. Fans are greeted by the legacy ship featuring a sail-shaped display when they arrive at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Inside the arena, senses are heightened by the beautifully designed indoor Minneapolis Skyway tunnels connecting to hotels, restaurants, incredible lighting effects, heated seating (fitting for a chilly 5-degree day), favorite concession snacks and beverages, team swag, and fabulous half-time performances.
The entire spectator experience is an amazing visual impact journey: a 55-foot-tall curved LED screen that spans a more than 31,000 square feet video board that’s comprised of a total of 23 displays featuring a 13HD pixel layout. Fans feel the intense and ultimate exhilaration of the live action each time a team scores.
Enhancing the digital experience at Super Bowl 52: Virtual Reality. Fans were able to put on a VR headset to submerge themselves in the close-up action without risking physical injury. It gives fans the chance to see the field the same way as their favorite players and coaches do. NBC Sports introduced its use of augmented reality and virtual graphics to allow animations of players in 3D motion to be inserted in the telecast process.
When the Dallas Cowboys unveiled the world’s first largest high-definition LED display scoreboard at AT&T Stadium in 2009, the football-watching experience was transformed as fans could get a field level view while never leaving the comfort of their own seats. Fans now get information about parking, ticketing, restroom wait times, concession stands, and of course, the must-haves – instant replays and gameplay.
The college football fan experience has also become more digitally enhanced through giant video screens and advanced technology. The Auburn Tigers Jordan Hare Stadium, one of the most legendary venues in the SEC, boasts the largest video screen at any college football stadium in the country measuring a whopping 10,830 square feet;190 feet wide X 57 feet tall. From an overall technologically advanced experience for college football spectators, Baylor’s McLane Stadium offers fans free WiFi through its partnership with Extreme Networks and AT&T and has a stadium app that allows fans to access live video in addition to a large video screen that ranks in the top 15 biggest screens (5,029 square feet; 107 feet wide X 47 feet tall) in college football.
The entire football experience in the 21st century is simply epic and no longer just a spectator sport. Fans can now participate on endless levels with exposure to multiple choices of entertainment at championship sporting events. One can only imagine what virtual and digital surprises Super Bowl LIII will have to mesmerize and involve fans from all over the world.