July 10, 2018 by Brad Grimes

Little Caesars ArenaDid the US Supreme Court, of all organizations, just hand the AV industry a gift? A landmark decision in May basically opened the floodgates to sports betting.

I make no moral judgment on gambling. But here’s what I thought of when the news came out: digital signage. Right? You go see a sports game, there’s a giant videoboard (or several), and lots of smaller displays for keeping score, stats, the current game situation…. Won’t all those venues also need new display solutions (and the backend content processing and routing) to show up-to-the-minute odds on every possible in-game betting scenario — even for out-of-town games? With the right app, infrastructure and information, I could place a wager that the next batter will hit a home run. (Disclosure: At the time of this writing, the court decision had just come down and, although many people were excitedly discussing possibilities — and others were lamenting the potential downsides — nothing had yet taken effect.)

Whatever happens, it’s an exciting time to be a sports-venue operator — or one of the many technology providers that serve them. Stadiums continue to embrace AV solutions to enhance the fan experience, whether it’s sensor technology and digital signage that can guide people to the shortest concession line, or whether it’s projected shows on hockey rinks and basketball courts. That experience is spilling out into the areas outside of stadiums and venues, with multimedia and events that build upon and extend what is happening inside.

And then there’s this thing called eSports, about which my sons had to inform me. As video gaming has become a big-money, competitive spectator sport, sport venues, which only host so many actual games per season, are jockeying to build out solutions that support eSports competitions. Heck, eSports is also leading to a whole new category of venue, such as the one Turner Studios opened in Atlanta GA a couple years ago, or the truly immersive “gaming villages” that companies like architecture and design firm Populous envision.

And, of course, there is sports wagering, which, analysts already speculate, could extend to eSports. I asked one of AVIXA’s newest friends what he thought. Bill Dorsey is Chairman of the Association of Luxury Suite Directors (ALSD), which represents sports teams and venue operators, plus the companies that serve them. AVIXA recently entered into an agreement with ALSD to help raise awareness of how audio, video and control technologies can enhance the fan experience and yield benefits for venue operators, teams, facility developers, partners and others.

“The recent Supreme Court decision legalizing sports gambling will have enormous implications for the facility business and those vendors that supply the business,” Dorsey told me. “This has the potential to eventually create casinos in arenas and stadiums across the country. You will see new designs and build-outs to accommodate this. The AV industry will supply much of the equipment. The food and beverage companies will potentially need to accommodate a seven-day-per-week group, not just game day. No one quite knows where this will go, but we’ve seen the doubling of valuations of franchises already being talked about.”

That sounds like opportunity knocking.

As part of its ongoing effort to raise awareness of AV solutions in a variety of markets, AVIXA took part in the ALSD Design & Build Forum in Atlanta GA. AVIXA’s CEO, David Labuskes, CTS, CAE, RCDD, moderated a pair of panel discussions: “Beyond Venue Walls: Leveraging Audiovisual Technology for New Business Opportunities” and “Fan Experience 2.0: How Audiovisual Technology is Redefining the Future of Engagement.” Joining Dave were executives from various professional teams and venue operators, such as the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and Detroit MI’s Little Caesars Arena. In October, we’ll be working again with ALSD during the organization’s first-ever event in Europe, where venue development and reinvention is really taking off.

Underpinning everything AVIXA does is a commitment to act as a catalyst for market growth, to identify customer communities where your solutions can add value and to demonstrate that value — often, through the voices of early adopters in those communities. AVIXA and our partner groups see that value in sports arenas, and we’re meeting end users eager to use AV to get people out of their houses — out from in front of their big-screen TVs and NFL Sunday Ticket packages — and back into the stadium experience. There are lots of new and evolving ways to accomplish that, and the AV industry is best positioned to help. Bet on it.

About Brad Grimes

Brad Grimes is the Senior Director of Communications for AVIXA and the former editor of Pro AV magazine. He has been writing about technology for more than 25 years.