October 16, 2017 by Kirsten Nelson
Wells Fargo CenterThere are 10,500 new square feet of LED display at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, and you don’t have to be in the bowl to feel the burst of energy delivered by all those pixels. All I did was walk in off the sidewalk through the 11th Street Fan Zone gift shop and I was immersed. I was engaged. I was fan experienced. 

Walking in to a multi-story glass and concrete atrium, with boundless visual action greeting me from every surface — even bouncing off the mosaic tile floors — it was easy to imagine the giddiness a fan would feel upon entering this glimmering welcome sequence of “You are HERE.” 

The concourse was mostly empty when I arrived for a special pre-season media preview of the massive new concourse-redefining displays that were designed, implemented, content-curated and now dazzlingly activated by ANC, but even in the quiet, the effect was exceedingly energetic. 

When the venue opens its doors to fans of sporting events and rock shows and everything else that keeps the tickets selling year-round, there will be live video, social media, and stats welcoming those who enter here, or via the Broad Street entrance, which was also outfitted with stunning new 10mm LED arrays covering every available surface and bending to wrap the upper-most fascia. 

Walking into the arena, fans will immediately get caught up with what’s going on in the venue. The massive visuals will be an extension of what you were listening to in the car or monitoring on your smartphone as you traveled to the arena. You’ll walk in to a canvas of action. And you’ll be glad you got off your sofa.

This revitalization of this venue in particular is interesting, because my hosts for the evening, ANC, have been working with its owners, management, and tenants since the place opened more than 20 years ago. Since Comcast Spectator bought the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers and the arena itself more than a decade ago, the latter has been a playground for video technology experimentation. Pioneering the concept of 360-degree LED ribbon fascia surrounds with a scoreboard upgrade in 2006, and now redefining the concourses with this big and bold new installation, ANC’s design and content development teams work closely with Comcast Spectator to realize next-level visions of engagement.

Wells Fargo Center Elevators With  work complete on the immersive concourse displays and the addition of two new 16mm LED in-bowl displays on the upper and lower fascia, ANC and venue management were ready to party with the press and social media influencers.
And there among the crowd, with a smile on his face as enthusiastic as any sports fan who is going to walk in and be amazed by several stories of video height, was ANC co-founder, president and CEO Jerry Cifarelli. He’d been a part of the earliest additions of video technology at Wells Fargo Center, and this latest redevelopment project set a new precedent. 

“This is the beginning of a whole new thing,” Cifarelli enthused, noting that in converting all static signage to digital in the concourses, Comcast Spectacor was eager to maximize all its video and digital assets, integrating the displays with the IPTV setup for live video and social feeds — the works — both indoors and outside on the exterior video board. 

While milling around the space, riding the escalators up and down in the atrium to get a better view of the displays, I talked with Cifarelli about the evolution of video engagement throughout the venue’s history. Even though these new displays replace static advertising, they’re much more than just that, he said. “LED is becoming more like art. People want it everywhere.” 

We glanced up and saw some footage of the venue’s other major tenant, the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, and Cifarelli added, “With the live video during the games, fans aren’t going to miss anything — they won’t even miss a moment.” 

And just then, one of the displays flashed a message very pertinent to the Wells Fargo Center brand and experience: “Welcome to the moment.”

About Kirsten Nelson

Kirsten Nelson has written about audio, video and experience design in all its permutations for more than 20 years. As a writer and content developer for AVIXA, Kirsten connects stories, people and technology through a variety of media. She also directs program content for the TIDE Conference and Technology Innovation Stage at InfoComm. For three years, she also created conversations around emerging media and experiential design at InfoComm's Center Stage. Prior to that, Kirsten was the editor of SCN magazine for 17 years.