The MCG and Etihad Stadium will be the first grounds in Australia to have full LED digital signage across two levels and they are expected to be in use for round one of the AFL season.
While the majority of rectangular stadiums hosting NRL, Super Rugby and A-League matches have had the technology installed for a number of years, the uptake has been much slower for the larger oval AFL grounds. AAMI Stadium and Domain Stadium were among the first in the AFL to use digital signage.
However, Melbourne’s two major stadiums are going all-out, installing the digital signage around the entire circumference on both the ground level and level one. Most venues have the signage only on the non-broadcast side, satisfying the television coverage.
It’s part of a push by the AFL to improve fan engagement at both venues following meagre attendances in 2014 and on the back of the huge success of the opening season at Adelaide Oval. Both the Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide were able to theme the redeveloped stadium in their colours through its two levels of digital signage, three video screens and external LED lighting.
The addition at the MCG and Etihad Stadium will allow Melbourne teams to do the same in 2015, giving them ownership of the venue on match day. Clubs will be granted access to the signage two hours before the first bounce and at key moments throughout the game such as when a goal is kicked.
While the work at Etihad Stadium is on track, the MCG faces a battle to have the LED signage in place for round one of the 2015 AFL season. It is having to work around the Cricket World Cup which is currently being held at the venue. The LED signage on level one has already been installed but no doubt further work is required to make them active, while the ground signage hasn’t been installed as yet, with temporary LED signage being used for the Cricket World Cup.
The MCG is also currently in the middle of a $45 million technology upgrade which includes 800 new IPTV screens and external LED signage around the entire ground which clubs will also have access to in 2015. Installation is in the final stages although it’s unknown when these will first be in action.
Across town, Etihad Stadium is also currently undergoing a similar project, with a multimillion dollar technology partnership with Telstra delivering an IPTV solution powering 1,600 HD screens throughout the venue. There are currently no plans to install external LED lighting at the Docklands venue.
Etihad previously had some digital signage, with two sections on level one behind each goal installed in August 2013, while both venues had scrolling advertising at ground level.
Meanwhile, new coaches boxes are being installed at Etihad Stadium in time for the 2015 AFL season. The original boxes, which were forgotten during construction of the Docklands venue and built at the last-minute, were removed after the last game of 2014 with larger boxes being constructed over the off-season.