Located on the site of the Houston Astro’s 41,000-capacity Minute Maid Park stadium, the new center field Astros Team Store is part of a major upgrade and expansion of the retail footprint, with shop floor space quadrupling in size to approximately 8,000 square feet compared to last season.
Open six days a week, and a central destination for tens of thousands of fans before, during and after games, plus other special events, the owners wanted to introduce new sales, branding, and marketing opportunities, while creating a more immersive visitor experience through a variety of informative and entertainment content.
The Astros teamed up with Illinois-based Watchfire – responsible for some of the world’s most iconic installations, including the 1,320-foot, 49 million-plus LED canopy for Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas – to manufacture the double-sided LED ‘halo ring’ for Minute Maid Park.
With an outer surface of 9984 pixels wide x 624 pixels high and an inner surface of 9152 x 624, this structure provides 360-degree views from all areas of the shop floor. The Halo Ring requires four customized zones to display a variety of ever-changing and adaptable content to meet the various needs and requirements of the occasion.
The wall is driven by the ultra-quiet and compact Datapath VSNMicro 600 wall controller together with Datapath’s advanced WallControl 10 management software. The VSNMicro 600 is used to receive content from a Brightsign media player, which is then processed and distributed onto the inner and outer walls of the innovative canvas, that takes advantage of capabilities more often seen in high-end government control rooms.
With multiple sources required, Datapath used four of the six available PCI slots available on the VSNMicro 600 (allowing for further expansion), installing audio, video, graphics, and capture card drivers. These included a highly scalable Image2K graphics card, used to deliver 4K at 60fps with two outputs to the Halo Ring’s surface. Two Datapath VisionSC-HD4 audio video capture cards were also included, providing 8 x HD inputs, with a single VisionSC-UHD2 input card – offering the highest resolution video, detail and color accuracy – adding two HDMI 2.0 capture channels with HDCP2.2 support at 4K/60fps.
Combining with Wallboard’s cloud-based drag-and-drop digital signage CMS, the VSNMicro 600 has been able to achieve the owners’ detailed fourzone objectives. Scheduled or ad-hoc content from a variety of sources can be presented in fully customized layout designs that utilize combinations of digital signage and TVs, and can work separately, or together as a takeover.
Fans entering the new store are greeted with a hive of digital activity, with content including exclusive in-house media such as club information, live interviews, and team news, plus live sports feeds, highlight reels, and of course, the latest in-store offers and promotions.
Datapath, together with Watchfire, BrightSign, and Wallboard were able to work in partnership to overcome several challenges and obstacles, including changes around design, to ensure completion of this unique project on time. The Datapath team also provided detailed training to Houston Astro’s AV/IT management team.