The first sports and entertainment “smart city” is taking shape now, and it’s rising firmly in the heart of the Midwest.
Johnson Controls and Hall of Fame Village LLC – a partnership between the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Industrial Realty Group – are working together to create the Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village in Canton, Ohio.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame has long been a fairly sleepy museum. The changes coming to the site, though, will change that. The expansion project comes with a $700 million price tag, and will include 10 major venues. According to press from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the goal here is to create “the most inspiring place on Earth.”
Yes, that is a lofty goal.
The backbone of the project is the creation of what Johnson Controls is calling a “smart city.” This means that all of the building systems throughout the expanded campus will be controlled through advanced data and analytics. For instance, visitors to the new Hall of Fame Village will get wearable technology that tells them when lines might be shorter at different venues. Family members can also use the wearables to monitor the location of one another if they decide to separate into groups.
This is an ambitous project, and isn’t slated for comleted until 2020. That’s an important date; it coincides with the NFL’s 100th anniversary.
The Hall of Fame Village, once done, will include the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, home of the annual Hall of Fame preseason game that unofficially kicks off every NFL season; the National Youth Football & Sports Complex; a Hall of Fame Hotel; the Center for EXCELLENCE, which will host corporate-management programs, coaching clinics and officiating academies; restaurants; retail; and residential facilities.
There’s a bit of whimsy scheduled here, too, with the Hall of Fame Experience, a planned indoor amusement and water park.
Finally, there’s the Player Care Center, a space that will include treatment facilities for former football players suffering from addictions; a surgical center; and Legends Landing, an assisted-living, independent-living and memory-care facility.
Johnson Controls said that Hall of Fame Village is currently the largest project under construction in Ohio. The company predicts that the attraction will bring $15.3 billion in economic impact to the region during its first 25 years.
“This is one of the most outstanding projects with which IRG has ever been involved,” said Stuart Lichter, president and chairman of the board for Industrial Realty Group, in a statement. “We are very excited to join forces with a distinguished and innovative company like Johnson Controls to create the first-ever state-of-the-art and world-class sports and entertainment ‘smart city’ around America’s most passionate sport.”
Officials with Johnson Controls, not surprisingly, are equally excited about the project.
“Our innovative, integrated, technologies will provide the right combination of safety and security in an environment that demonstrates how we connect ‘cities’ that run smartly and reliably,” said Kim Metcalf-Kupres, vice president and chief marketing officer of Johnson Controls, in a statement. “We are proud to celebrate the greats of the game who are enshrined in the Hall of Fame and create a winning experience for visiting fans.”
Creating this “smart city” is no easy task. Crestron, a global provider of enterprise control and automation technology, has been hired by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Johnson Controls as the official A/V automation and digital media distribution partner. The deal will last 15 years.
As part of the deal, Crestron will provide the A/V, controls and lighting for each of the spaces in the Hall of Fame Village.
During an interview, Landon Lovett, vice president of federal business at Crestron, said that this project gives his company the chance to showcase how it can power a host of industries, everything from education and healthcare to government and tourism.
Crestron will provide the lighting systems throughout the village and the digital media content that visitors view and stream at the attraction.
“For us, it’s all about integrating and providing a high-quality experience for the people who attend and visit the hall of fame,” Lovett said.
Crestron has tackled big lighting and A/V projects in the past. The company, for example, is in charge of transforming all the lighting, colors and audio-visual cues at MetLife stadium, a venue shared by the NFL’s New York Jets and New York Giants. Crestron revamps the lighting and A/V systems according to whichever team is playing at the stadium that day.
The Hall of Fame Village project is a bit different, though. Not only does this project include a stadium, it’s also home to an assisted-living facility, an amusement park and a museum. These all require different lighting and automation controls.
“With the Legends Landing facility, we are providing lighting for an assisted-living facility. We are focusing on creating that residential lifestyle that someone living there would expect,” Lovett said. “It’s about the right lights and shading. It has to feel as if you are walking into your own home. That is completely different than what we’ll be doing at the stadium, a large-scale venue that houses thousands of people at a time.”
Crestron will also be providing corporate lighting and automation at the village’s Center for EXCELLENCE. This might include a system that, when a certain person walks into a room, video conferencing automatically starts, without anyone having to press a button.
“The challenge that we have is that in many places in the village the technology has to be extremely simple,” Lovett said. “It has to be easy to operate and understand, and it has to work in the background. It just works without people having to do anything. When someone has to pull out a laptop, phone or other device and then think about how they are going to interact with our systems, than we have already failed.”
The good news? Lovett says that Crestron is on pace to meet this challenge. The company first began working on the Hall of Fame Village’s lighting and automation systems right after the NFL’s Hall of Fame Game last year. The Tom Benson Stadium portion of the village opened this year and hosted this year’s edition of the Hall of Fame Game. Crestron is now working on the presentation rooms and meeting spaces at the Hall of Fame itself.
“The plan is to have this entire village up and running by 2020,” Lovett said. “That is the stake in the ground.”