As the structural steel skeleton of the Bucks’ new arena continues to take shape, along with the parking structure and practice facility in the Park East Corridor, suggesting the exterior size and scope of the $524 million Downtown development project, the team on Tuesday unveiled its cutting-edge plans for the most visible – and visually stimulating – entity that will be inside the building.
The Bucks announced a partnership with Daktronics to outfit the new arena and surrounding entertainment district with a state-of-the-art digital display package highlighted by a massive LED video system, including the largest-of-its-kind center-hung scoreboard in the NBA. Considered the industry leader for such electronic boards, Daktronics will custom-design and manufacture a 52-display "super system" featuring more than 16 million LEDs, while also installing additional outdoor displays on the northwest corner of the arena and the northwest corner of the new parking structure.
During a news conference at Suite 414 in the franchise’s Schlitz Park headquarters, team president Peter Feigin, COO Mike McCarthy and Daktronics Vice President of Live Events Jay Parker happily discussed the agreement, which Feigin said costs around $10 million and is part of the total arena budget.
"Daktronics is the best in the business at creating that ‘wow’ factor for fans in all corners of the building," Feigin said. "Our ownership is committed to providing an absolutely world-class experience for every guest, and we’re beyond excited for what this digital system will do for the fan experience in our building and throughout the surrounding development."
The focal point of the new video system is the arena’s scoreboard, which will be the largest equilateral center-hung display in the NBA. The 24-display configuration featuring 3,922 square feet of video displays – enough to cover more than three-fourths of the basketball court below it – will be "literally almost twice the size" of the current scoreboard at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, Feigin said.
The four main side displays will each measure approximately 25 feet high by 29 feet wide, with 6-millimeter line spacing to provide high-resolution imagery to fans throughout the arena. The center-hung display will also contain underbelly screens to appeal to audiences sitting closer to the action – or to incredulous opponents who need to see an immediate replay of what Giannis Antetokounmpo just did to them.
The scoreboard’s 24-display system will be capable of variable content zoning, which allows each display to show one large image or to be divided into multiple sections to showcase any combination of live video, instant replays, up-to-the-minute statistics, graphics and animations, sponsorship messages, social media or other special announcements. According to the team, the multitude of opportunities offered by the new video system will be "unlike anything Wisconsin sports fans have experienced."
Said Daktronics CEO Reece Kurtenbach in a statement: "We’re proud to partner with the Milwaukee Bucks to bring an integrated LED video system to their new arena. As part of a new construction process such as this, we are able to work with all the parties involved with building the arena to ensure the video system fits into the overall design as intended. This new arena will be an exceptional venue for live events, and we’re looking forward to seeing the completed project."
At the news conference Tuesday, Feigin reiterated the point that the video system would "blend" into the overall design of not only the arena district, but also the city’s surrounding Downtown landscape. Parker said the up-to-the-minute system would put the Bucks on the front lines of arena technology, but Feigin – acknowledging how quickly such advanced technology becomes outdated – emphasized the team will be responsible for all LED maintenance and upgrades expenses, and that such forward-looking expectations were built into the deal.
In addition to the primary scoreboard, Daktronics has worked with the arena designers on a 360-degree LED ribbon display that will be seamlessly incorporated into the seating fascia of the arena "to help immerse audiences in the action with graphics and information to supplement the center-hung, while also providing the opportunity to highlight additional partners throughout events."
Feigin said the Bucks would explore how to utilize such screens "to surprise and delight" fans in new ways. As for sponsorship of the center-hung display, he said the team viewed it instead as "a vehicle on which sponsors can advertise."
Daktronics will also be outfitting the arena with 31 digital displays, which combined with the center-hung total approximately 9,500 square feet of displays. Additional installations will be located throughout the arena bowl and in fan-focused areas, from the entry ways and ticket lobby to the concourses. According to the team, a unique 1.9-millimeter Ultra-High Definition (UHD) display will also be used as "a dynamic press backdrop on the event level near the Bucks locker room."
The arena’s exterior will also be brightened, as fans entering from the north will be greeted by a pair of cutting-edge outdoor displays totaling an additional 2,700 square feet. The northwest corner of the arena will be wrapped in a 15-foot-high by 85-foot-wide see-through display, letting fans inside see out through the glass façade, while those approaching the building will view messaging on upcoming events, community information and social media.
An additional 39.5-foot-high by 37-foot-wide curved display will be installed on the northwest corner of the new parking structure, greeting fans entering the arena district from McKinley Avenue with innovative graphics promoting upcoming events and other special messages.
As part of the new partnership with the Bucks, Daktronics will also provide scoreboards for the new state-of-the-art Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Sports Science Center, which is currently under construction adjacent to the new arena. The company will also partner with the team on a slate of community endeavors, to be announced in the coming weeks, and Feigin said Daktronics’ commitment to invest heavily in Milwaukee and across the state to promote youth basketball initiatives was an important part of the agreement.
The Bucks' new multi-purpose arena, tentatively called the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center, broke ground last June and construction is expected to be completed in September 2018.
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.