The Challenge

Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros, aiming to digitally enhance fan engagement and elevate the iconic Minute Maid Park experience, faced the task of upgrading its outdated digital videoboards. Seeking innovation, they partnered with Samsung for a cutting-edge display solution. The unique ballpark design and a retractable roof added complexity, requiring a delicate balance between modern technology and preserving the stadium’s timeless charm. The Astros envisioned a transformation not only for baseball games but also dynamic content for concerts and other events. The team’s requirements for the state-of-the-art visual overhaul would need to take advantage of the very latest technology to future-proof the multi-purpose venue.  

The Solution

"The technology that Samsung put forward has more than met the expectations of a vibrant display in all circumstances."

– Marcel Braithwaite, Senior Vice President of Business Operations for the Houston Astros

The Results

About The Houston Astros

The year 2000 saw something the grand old game of baseball had not experienced since 1964 – a Major League team in Houston playing on natural grass outdoors. While clear skies and real grass were welcome additions for fans, Bayou City hardball faithfuls also enjoyed another first in Minute Maid Park’s 242-foot high, retractable roof. Fans approved the new ballpark overwhelmingly, resulting in a record of more than 3,000,000 fans through the Minute Maid Park turnstiles in the 2000 season.

A jewel in the crown of the majestic downtown Houston skyline, Minute Maid Park has become a welcome home for the Houston Astros and has ushered in a new era of Major League sports in the city. The downtown ballpark continues the proud tradition of visionary innovation in stadium construction, beginning with the club’s previous home – the Astrodome. Minute Maid Park’s retractable roof technology brought open-air baseball to Houston for the first time in 35 years, and the natural grass surface and classic architecture provided Minute Maid Park the atmosphere of the great ballparks of baseball’s Golden age.

The Challenge

Houston, we need a display upgrade

Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros have wowed fans with out-of-this-world experiences since it opened its one-of-a-kind Minute Maid Park. Yet, with an increasing focus on the fans and providing world-class entertainment, the organization challenged itself to think of innovative ways to improve fan engagement. To do this, the Astros decided to upgrade the outdated digital videoboards throughout the ballpark to elevate the experience at the home of the World Champions.

“Our previous videoboards were at the end of life, so we wanted to upgrade the quality and ensure a sustainable system that allowed us to utilize current technologies and enhance the fan experience,” explained Marcel Braithwaite, senior vice president of business operations at the Houston Astros.

To achieve this goal, the Astros sought a trusted technology partner in Samsung to provide a future-proofed display solution of the highest-quality product from design, construction, installation and post-sales support. The result would not only meet but exceed the team’s expectations.

“We were looking for a partner that could provide cutting-edge solutions not only with the videoboard display but also look to the future with other stadium enhancements and opportunities,” added Braithwaite. 

The award-winning Minute Maid Park is one of the most unique and iconic sports venues.

To enhance fan experiences and modernize the iconic venue with a complete digital overhaul, they would need to strike a delicate balance between embracing cutting-edge technology and preserving the timeless charm of the stadium. “Due to our building design, it was critical that Samsung could replace like-for-like in video display size while bringing us into the future with further state-of-the-art technology,” said Braithwaite.

A challenge would come from the ballpark’s standout feature — a unique retractable roof offering the largest open area of any retractable roofed baseball stadium of its kind. The result is a sunlight-flooded venue that enables the team to play on natural grass and provide fans with unrivaled views of the downtown Houston skyline. Therefore, a videoboard display that could still be visible and vibrant in the Texas sunlight was essential.

With Minute Maid Park being a multi-purpose venue in constant use throughout the year, the owners wanted the video display transformation to not only elevate ball games but a wide variety of non-sporting events.

The Solution

All-star technology delivers a fan experience home run

Samsung, a global leader in display technology, is an expert in delivering elite fan experiences at world-class stadiums. They worked closely with the Houston Astros to take the live event at Minute Maid Park to the next level. To ensure no curveballs came their way during the project, the Astros and Samsung teams worked together on a detailed venue assessment. From there, a full suite of display solutions was specified, designed and delivered.

“The effort on the front end in scoping the project properly and identifying what is included or owner-provided was critical in the clean execution of a project of this nature. Samsung was methodical, and the partnership was evident throughout this journey,” revealed Braithwaite.

At the heart of this transformation was the Astros’ primary scoreboard. Choosing Samsung’s XHB Series outdoor LED signage, the team installed a colossal 55 x 124-foot display designed to withstand the elements when the stadium’s retractable roof is open. With a dazzling 8,000 nits of brightness, the panel technology ensured exceptionally clear and stunning picture quality no matter the lighting conditions.

“As part of our bid, we wanted to understand how each brand would approach multiple environments for us with open- and closed-roof scenarios and various lighting levels. The technology that Samsung put forward has more than met the expectations of a vibrant display in all circumstances,” said Braithwaite.

The 6,875-square-foot scoreboard features an impressive 5.3 million LEDs for exceptional resolution and image clarity. It forms part of a larger state-of-the-art videoboard spanning eight stories to offer a perfect view from every seat, digitally enhancing the action with replays and fun fan interactive content.

The slim profile of Samsung’s new XHB Series, being twice as thin as older generation models, contributed to an aesthetically pleasing design and reduced sightline obstructions to ensure an unimpeded field view from spectators’ seats.

Other key display installations included the replacement of a 25 x 40-foot left-field scoreboard for enhanced visibility across the bowl and updated screens in center-field elevators. To further deliver dynamic digital content, the Astros decided on over 45,000 square feet of updated ribbon boards in the CC Smile, suite-level fascia and center-field mezzanine fascia zones. The bright ribbon boards banding the field provide hard-to-miss digital real estate for promoting team branding, game information and commercial opportunities to drive revenue.

In total, the all-star display lineup installed at Minute Maid Park combined for over 54,000 square feet of dynamic displays and 9.8 million LEDs. The installation process was seamlessly executed thanks to concise planning and the easy-to-fit XHB Series, which helped cut installation time in half and minimize disruptions to ongoing events.

“Our building is used year-round, so it created a smaller window to remove existing infrastructure and install the new display. The project management team for Samsung was closely aligned with us and helped develop a thorough plan to navigate our changing needs and schedule,” explained Braithwaite.

The Technology

XHB-S 10mm

Experience exceptionally clear and stunning picture quality, even in the sun, with the XHB Series. The displays are also designed to reduce power consumption for more sustainable business operations.

XHB Fascia

With consistently high brightness, XHB is the ideal solution to deliver clear and brilliant visuals day and night. IP66 waterproof design protects against the elements, while Samsung’s proprietary S-box ensures crisp images and immersive content.

The Results

Maintaining a winning record with the right partner

When Minute Maid Park opened its gates for the season opener in March 2023, fans could experience the championship-worthy additions to its technology roster. The new LED scoreboards and video displays gave the venue a heightened atmosphere and an incredible game day experience featuring new ways to engage with fans.

The dazzling new LED primary scoreboard is a step-change in resolution and clarity to provide pin-sharp live-action and replays. The size and sharpness of the display, along with the wraparound ribbon boards, deliver an immersive experience that is pitch-perfect for the unforgettable visit the Houston Astros want every fan to enjoy.

The Astros’ commitment to delivering a top-notch fan experience extends to their state-of-the-art Control Center, fully powered by Samsung. This centralized hub is where the Astros’ entertainment teams create all in-game, pre-game, and post-game shows. With a dedicated focus on fans, the content creation teams can push engagement creativity to new heights and create lifelong memories for fans that keep them returning.

“Due to our building design, it was critical that Samsung could replace like-for-like in video display size while bringing us into the future with further state-of-the-art technology.”
— Marcel Braithwaite, Senior Vice President of Business Operations for the Houston Astros

“From the fan experience perspective, we always strive to deliver on three primary components to entertain and engage fans: family-friendly content, flawless execution, and fun and interactive entertainment such as fan cams and sing-along songs,” Braithwaite emphasized. “A crisp, clear, functional videoboard is key for the content and production teams to utilize to showcase the various campaign looks and creative elements of the organization.”

Key to achieving the game-changing upgrade at Minute Maid Park and ensuring long-term success is working with a technology partner that provides a dedicated service from start to finish and beyond.

“Large-scale venues such as Minute Maid Park need to work with clients that offer competitive pricing at scale on the front end and support on the back end once the job is complete,” Braithwaite stressed. “As Samsung offers stability and strong brand foundation, these benefits can be passed along to not only the primary partnership with the venue but also multiple layers of venue partners such as menu boards for catering partners and video walls for concerts.”

Through Samsung’s suite of high-quality display solutions deployed at Minute Maid Park, the Houston Astros hit a home run and now have bases loaded with future-proofed stadium technology that will continue to lead the league in sports and entertainment.

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