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A memorable on-ice opening sequence at Seattle’s technology-advanced Climate Pledge Arena

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A memorable on-ice opening sequence at Seattle’s technology-advanced Climate Pledge Arena
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Welcome to the deep where the Kraken rules! At Climate Pledge Arena, the National Hockey League’s newest team, the Seattle Kraken, concluded its introductory season, leaving fans with lasting memories thanks to a powerful, immersive fan experience. 

The multi-purpose, technology-advanced arena is located north of downtown in the 74-acre entertainment complex known as Seattle Center, which was the site of the 1962 World's Fair. The arena received a $1.15 billion renovation and expansion, including the addition of a new 800,000-square-foot, below-ground venue that seats more than 17,000 fans for hockey, basketball, concerts and other events. The team management group headed by Tod Leiweke wanted to deliver a thrilling in-game entertainment experience to fans and ice projection was a must-have technology in the renovated arena.

“Most new arenas want to have ice projection in their building if they’re doing hockey. Climate Pledge is a beautiful arena with lots of new technology and we wanted to include ice projection to create another sensory touch point for fans,” said Lamont Buford, VP, Entertainment Experience & Production, who alongside Jonny Greco, SVP, Entertainment, led the Kraken Hockey’s creative team.

Home to one of the most spectacular ice projection shows in NHL

In addition to the Kraken’s creative team, Diversified, who delivered the design, installation and integration of the arena’s control room and AV systems, teamed with Barco on the prominent, high-quality ice-projection system. To create forever moments for Seattle Kraken games that get fans hyped up and the adrenaline flowing, twelve Barco 45,000 lumens and 40,000 lumens projectors are deployed for an incredible pre-game show titled Fear the Deep, as well as during intermission periods to keep fans engaged. Barco UDX-U45LC projectors are located in four zones, double stacked and project in 4:3 onto the ice, while UDX-W40 Flex units project in 16:9 onto the North Wall.

“Our goal was to create a pre-game on-ice production that helps set the tone for the fans and showcased our region, as well as bringing out different emotions from individuals. Hockey is unique in the players go away after warmups, so we have these chunks of time where you can set the mood and the tone before the team comes out,” said Buford. “Our building is subterranean and we use that as a narrative within the show that our arena descends into the deep. We wanted to create an on-ice projection experience that pull fans in and made everyone feel like they’re part of that underwater experience. It further emphasized the legend of the Kraken, a legendary sea monster of enormous size, living in the deep.”

During the 15-minute intermissions between periods, the lights come down and the Barco projectors are used for on-ice fan entertainment. The Barco projectors are used in a multitude of fan entertainment activities, from a game where the projectors display a race course on ice as contestants weave their way through on tricycles, to an “impossible shot” game where a fan is given the opportunity to win $500,000 by shooting the puck from one blue line into a small hole in the goal on the other side, and for a fans’ favorite game, Bingo, where the projectors are used to divided the ice into four sections as bingo cards. “The fans get really excited as the cards fill up on the ice and the winning card lights up on the ice,” said Buford.

For the future, the Kraken is investigating utilizing the projectors for more events.

A collaboration of creatives

After an extensive evaluation period as well as from valuable input from Ayron Sequira, Sr. Director Entertainment Experience, the Barco projectors were selected for the Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena on-ice projection show.

“Prior relationships and experience with Barco coming through on other projects made teaming up with them again an easy choice,” said Jonny Greco. “The Barco team wanted the Kraken to have the tools to tell our story and they were advocates for us through the entire process. The customer service from the Barco crew was more like a collaboration of creatives who wanted to see your vision come to life than a seller/buyer relationship.”

Still the arena posed some challenges for projection. Dean Roberts, technical operations manager for Diversified, said, “It was a great challenge to project onto the shining ice as ice isn’t the best projection surface. The quality of video for the opening sequence is excellent as the Barco DLP projectors have everything we need – 4K resolution, 3D mapping, excellent color spectrum and color mapping, low latency and a wide range of lensing options.”

“The Barco projectors have many advantages for arena installations, from versatile rigging options with motorized pitch/roll/yaw adjustments to excellent warping and blending functionality,” Roberts added. 

“This was the first year for the team and first year for the arena, so everything was so time compressed, especially at the beginning. It was amazing, even with the construction delays, that we pulled it off and got everything installed and operational before the opening of the season,” said Roberts.

A powerful immersive Seattle Sports Fan experience

Jonny Greco said, “We were aspirational on many elements of our show and trying to come out with the show we envisioned was important. We wanted these projectors to look great, help carry the narrative and tie together with the abundant technology we had in our building in a unified signal flow to create something memorable.”

“Once we had projection installed and available to us for the show, it created an impactful additive element. When we had all systems go with our tentacle and wall and ice projection connected to our full light kit with our incredible sound, we had a really powerful, immersive Seattle sports fan experience.”

Greco concluded it would be hard not to go with Barco next time a big project shapes up on the horizon. “When you have a successful dance, you want to keep dancing with the people who got you there the first time. Barco delivered after setting realistic expectations, and when we had questions or concerns, always made themselves available as partners to help us all find success.”

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