Elevating the Fan Experience at Allentown’s New PPL Center
As soon as Jim and Rob Brooks purchased the Phantoms, an AHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers, they began scouting locations for a new arena, quickly settling on Allentown in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley. Since then, the team’s co-owners—who also happen to be brothers—have worked hard to support the local community.
That’s meant supporting a variety of events to boost the local economy, and of course, creating a first-rate arena experience for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms' fans.
To accomplish their goals, the brothers engaged Panasonic in 2014 to support the brand-new, multipurpose PPL Center with best-in-class video boards and entertainment solutions. The results have astounded and impressed visitors ever since, including the young Phantoms hosting the most recent AHL all-star game and gliding into the 2017 playoff race.
As the Brooks brothers prepared to open the PPL Center in downtown Allentown, they already had a clear vision in mind. They wanted the new arena to be innovative, with state-of-the-art technologies—a crown jewel in the burgeoning area. The two brothers were familiar with Panasonic’s work and intrigued by the possibilities of a potential partnership.
“We were at an AHL all-star game and actually met folks from Panasonic,” says Rob. “[We] started talking about their products. We saw different screens that we liked, and together we built a unique board that fit our arena perfectly.”
In fact, the completed PPL Center features several stunning Panasonic video displays. Before fans even enter the arena, they’re greeted by two sharp, vibrant LED marquee boards. Once inside, the action is supplemented by a 267-ft long LED fascia display, a lower ring display, and—most eye-catching of all—a 17-ft high, four-sided center-hung display boasting a stunningly sharp 6mm pixel pitch.
The variety and quality of the video boards make for an unforgettable fan experience at both Phantoms games and other PPL Center events. Best of all, Panasonic was able to engineer a fully customized solution that met the owners’ requirements for both technological innovations and budget.
Top-Notch Fan Experiences
When the Brooks brothers first engaged Panasonic, their number one priority was to bolster fan engagement inside the arena. Fortunately, Panasonic has a stellar reputation for leveraging technology to elevate the fan experience in sports stadiums and entertainment centers—and the brothers took note.
“Here at the PPL Center, we try to be on the cutting edge of entertainment and fan engagement,” says Jim Brooks. “And Panasonic delivers that.”
Panasonic’s team has spent years building meaningful relationships with minor league teams, developing expertise in the specific needs, goals, and concerns of both owners and fans.
“The minor leagues are very different from the major leagues,” says David Frost, Director of Minor League Sports at Panasonic. “There’s a lot of eyeballs on the board. As soon as there’s a stoppage, you’re working in sponsorships and fan engagement.”
At the PPL Center, that’s included everything from sponsored contests to bongo drums to kiss cams, all of which have delighted fans—especially when they spot a familiar face on the breathtaking boards.
“The fan experience is wonderful,” said one fan at a recent game. “Everywhere we’re going… on that big board, we get to see ourselves and our friends and our families.”
Fostering a Long-Term Partnership
With every new project, Panasonic aims to create a lasting, support-driven relationship, and its project at the PPL Center was no exception.
“The relationship that Panasonic has with the PPL Center and the ownership group is very unique,” says Matt Ritter, VP of Sales and Marketing for Panasonic. “It’s more of a friendship and a family-like atmosphere—that’s the way we do business.”
That close partnership means that Panasonic isn’t just on hand for the solution and install—or even for the first season. According to Ritter, the team’s goal is to support the PPL Center—and other arenas like it—for life. And the proof is in the pudding, as the arena appeared as dynamic and technologically splendid as ever when the Lehigh Valley Phantoms hosted the 2017 AHL All-Star game in January.
Teams and owners from around the league were awed by the technology, a fact that wasn’t lost on AHL Commissioner David Andrews.
“The relationship between Panasonic and the AHL is one that we really value,” says David. “It’s unbelievable technology.”
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