Millennium Stadium invests Â£3m in video and audio upgrade
by Annie Byrne
Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium has taken the wrappers off a £3m video and audio upgrade which it claims will improve its standing as a world-class sporting, music and conference events venue. The Welsh arena struck a deal with US-based IT infrastructure provider, Cisco, to rollout StadiumVision management technology and high-definition displays throughout the site. Millennium Stadium is the first European venue to invest in the new technology platform. StadiumVision allows the venue to deliver and edit bespoke content on any of its onsite screens in real-time through its IT network. As well as the base media content platform, the rollout included over 400 new high-definition screens (40- to 52-inch) implemented throughout the main arena, conference and hospitality suites. The stadium also purchased two 90sqm Daktronics LED displays to provide high-definition viewing during main arena events, and overhauled and networked its audio capabilities. According to Millennium Stadium, the digital revamp is the largest investment made since it opened in 1999 and took three months to complete. The rollout was subsidised by the Welsh Assembly Government as part of its LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games) funding for 2012. The venue will host several Olympic football matches in 2012. At the official press conference, Welsh Rugby Union Group CEO, Roger Lewis, said StadiumVision would help its venue provide world-class imagery and audio to visitors, while opening up new commercial sponsorship opportunities. The new capabilities were launched at the Investco Autumn International series Wales match against Australia on November 6. “Having this relationship with such a global player at the cutting-edge of technology is extremely important as we want to take Wales to the world,” he said. “What we can do with this system is breathtaking and the relationship we can develop with fans is unique indeed.” Millennium Stadium is developing its own content to deliver before, during and after events through two new in-venue TV channels. StadiumVision will also be used to update menu boards and other screens in real-time, as well as promote sponsors in different areas or levels. “We will provide behind the scenes coverage, access to the changing rooms, talk to the fans and provide pre-recorded content to make sure an individual’s stadium experience is a memorable one,” Lewis said. The centralised but individually customisable nature of StadiumVision meant each screen could also portray different content to conference delegates or corporate hospitality guests, he said, while offering more targeted and flexible branding and messaging options for sponsors and partners. Lewis also highlighted sustainability benefits including lower power requirements per screen and the ability to switch displays on and off remotely. First Minister of Wales, the Right Honourable Carwyn Jones, said Millennium Stadium’s upgrade was important not just to Cardiff, but to Wales as a nation. The venue contributes 100 million pounds annually to the national economy. “A stadium of this magnitude and modernity, in the middle of the city, is a tremendous economic asset,” he said at the press conference. “We want to be seen as a country that has ambitions, has the latest technology and can manufacture as well as demonstrate that technology.” Cisco UK and Ireland CEO, Phil Smith, pointed out technology was playing an increasing role in the match-day experience for sports fans, as well as in-venue experiences. “Cisco is putting video right at the heart of the stadium, enabling the Welsh Rugby Union to provide a highly personalised and tailored experience for all of its visitors, making it one of the most technologically advanced arenas in the world,” he said. Although it’s early days for StadiumVision, Cisco told EN several conference and exhibition venues globally were expressing interest in the technology to better manage onsite digital signage and media options. Twelve venues already use StadiumVision worldwide including the New York Yankees baseball ground and Dallas Cowboys football stadium.