May 20 2013

Houston Rockets' HD Scoreboard Brings Fans Closer to the Game

The huge display, which offers fans instant-replay footage and close-ups of players, is one of several new technologies available to fans.

During the 2012 offseason, the Houston Rockets spent big money on new players to improve the team. Then it invested more dollars on new technology to improve the fan experience at its basketball arena. The highlight: a new, indoor high-definition video scoreboard that’s the largest in the country.

During games, the team shows a live feed on the new video board, so fans sitting at the club level and upper deck of the Toyota Center can get a clear view of the play, says Joe Abercrombie, the team’s senior production manager and producer.

“It brings fans closer to the game,” Abercrombie says. “We cut shots that are close-ups of players, so people can really see what is going down in the paint. We show replays, so fans can see if the ball did go out of bounds.”

The new center-hung video board, which debuted in early November, has four screens: two 25-by-58-foot screens facing the west and east seating areas and two 25-by-25-foot screens facing the north and south ends of the arena, says Doug Swan, director of scoreboard operations.

To take advantage of the new video scoreboard, the team also upgraded all the technology in its video control room, including new networking equipment, new switches, video decks and clip servers, Swan says.

Besides the video board, the team also replaced its old CRT TVs with more than 400 new HDTVs in the arena’s suites, lower and upper concourses and in the lounge areas.

The Rockets, which made the playoffs this year for the first time in three seasons, also installed a new point-of-sale system to speed transactions at the concession stands, as well as a new Wi-Fi network for fans to surf from their smartphones and tablets. “Overall, it’s a better experience for fans,” Abercrombie says.

Learn more about the technology the Houston Rockets just deployed to boost its networking capabilities at the Toyota Center in our feature story, "Houston Rockets’ Network Upgrade Is a Slam Dunk."

Phoebe Rourke-Ghabriel