The drive for Michigan’s Grand Valley State University (GVSU) to evolve stemmed from a simple thought the school’s leadership had back in 2016: Technology and sports are now inseparable.

“Fans have high expectations for venue technology because they use technology in their daily lives,” says Doug Lipinski, deputy director of athletics at GVSU. “It’s important to have the best fan experience possible at your events — and that starts with the digital technology you offer.”

That year, the school tackled the first order of business: upgrading the stadium’s outdated digital display. “We were looking for a partner that could deliver on all of our needs and wants to make the best impact on our game day experience within our budget,” says Lipinski. Samsung stepped up to the plate, with a clear understanding of what today’s fan is looking for — and how to make it happen for the right price.

“When it comes to your game day experience, your display is in competition with TVs and cellphones,” said a Samsung sales manager. “People want to see the instant replays, to feel the excitement through that screen. And if your display is too small, you can’t deliver. People want to see for themselves — was he really over the line or not? That’s part of what makes the game memorable.”

Matching size and strength

With a clear vision and agreeable numbers, it was time to craft a custom display package — which resulted in GVSU upgrading to a 16-millimeter display with 720×1080 resolution. The new display gives them true HD on screen, along with additional real estate for ads, scoring and stats.

“The sheer size of the display board makes an immediate impact on the experience,” says Lipinski. “Plus, the capabilities of the board have increased our opportunities to engage our partners and sponsors that we did not have before at the stadium.”

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Better instant replay, more camera angles and a superior graphics package are helping GVSU score more points across the board. “The screen looks great, and the fans love it,” says Lipinski. “Not only can they support their sponsors better, but they’re putting on a show like you’d see at a professional game.”

According to Lipinski, the upgrade has allowed GVSU to defend its national reputation for excellence — and elevate it. “Lubbers Stadium has always had one of the best game day environments in the country,” he says. “This new display board creates an experience unlike others.”

Changing the game

One of the most common questions that comes up when a sports program is looking to upgrade its stadium display is the question of return on investment (ROI) — how can the school offset the cost? In the case of GVSU, one of the ideas the Samsung team brought to the table was a mobile control room. With a production facility on wheels, not only could the school cover more live events on campus, but it could also sell that content to networks like ESPN for further revenue. Since media networks need content, they’re typically happy to pay schools for their games.

Not only that, but the trailer opened a whole new world of education for the school’s media students. “Now our students get an opportunity to learn the business by using state-of-the-art equipment and the best technology in a real-world setting,” says Lipinski. “We believe in high-impact learning environments and high-engagement teaching — the new board and control room allow for both.”

Bringing home the victory — unexpectedly

A riveting game day experience, greater channels for revenue and elevated educational programming were all part of the strategy that GVSU and Samsung crafted together. But neither realized that there was another benefit awaiting post-launch: a stronger recruiting program.

“This wasn’t part of the plan, but with all the new broadcasting opportunities, the school was able to reach a lot more kids than they could previously,” says Lipinski. “So their recruiting numbers went way up because students could now see them on TV, along with GVSU’s gorgeous campus. That was a huge win for our school.”

It all comes back to the champion mindset — which extends to top-notch equipment. “Having excellent facilities is important in the recruiting process,” says Lipinski. “The ability to use this mobile control room technology at multiple venues has increased our exposure and continues to elevate our brand. It’s something that is at the core of GVSU as we create championship excellence in all we do.”

Schools of all sizes and locales now have access to stadium-worthy, large-scale displays. Learn more how they transform campuses in this free complete guide. And get more live events signage inspiration from Samsung’s full lineup of outdoor-ready displays.

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