AAA Flag and Banner produces superwide graphics for the NHL All Star Game.
By Paula Yoho
Hockey fever was in the air in Raleigh, North Carolina, as the city geared up to host the National Hockey League’s All-Star Game in late January. The NHL pulled out all the stops for the event, peppering inside and outside the Convention Center, its surrounding hotels, and even the airport with larger-than-life depictions of some of its most famous players and teams. With Salt Lake City-based Infinite Scale Design Group spearheading the creative efforts, it wasn’t long before local organizers got caught up in the action.
“Infinite Scale did all of the NHL's city décor, branding, and look and feel for All-Star Weekend, and they did a superb job,” says Scott Dupree, vice president for sports marketing at the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau. “They were a first-class group that was very easy to work with, and when we – the Local Organizing Committee for All-Star Weekend – decided we wanted to do something large and memorable with our remaining funds, we obviously went to Infinite Scale.”
The result of the partnership was a 16 x 20-foot wallscape of Carolina Hurricanes’ team captain Eric Staal mounted above the Convention Center’s Carrabus Street entrance. Though the brainchild of Infinite Scale, the imposing graphic -- as well as all the other signage and graphics for the week’s events -- would have been impossible without the efforts of the company’s print provider and installation partner, AAA Flag and Banner (aaaflag.com) in Los Angeles.
Jay Jacoby at AAA Flag oversaw the monumental project from concept to completion.
“The Eric Staal piece was just one piece out of a much bigger scope of work,” says Jacoby. “The whole scope of the project was huge. We did five or six hotels, plus the whole outside and inside of the arena. I would say that we probably did about 70,000 or 80,000 square feet in all, and that includes fabric, the decals, and the mesh. At the arena itself, there was a graphic that was probably five or six times the size of the Eric Staal graphic – maybe 30-feet tall x 100-feet wide.”
While it was no small undertaking, Jacoby’s print crew was up to the challenge, having tackled similar projects for the NBA and the Super Bowl, among others. For the Raleigh event, Infinite Scale provided Jacoby with “ready-to-go” vector files for all elements of the job, including the city-commissioned Eric Staal wall mural. AAA Flag used its flatbed EFI Vutek 3200 with Colorburst RIP to output onto 3M IJ-3555 Scotchcal changeable graphic film using EFI Vutek inks.
“The Staal image measured 16-feet wide x 20-feet tall, and we printed it in panels that have to overlap by a half-inch to an inch when you seam pieces together,” says Jacoby.
No laminate was necessary for the project because it was only up for about a week. Jacoby and his eight-person crew from sunny Southern California struggled against the elements in North Carolina in January, but all in all, he says the installation went off without a hitch.
“The whole install for all the parts took a little under a week,” he says. “For that particular Eric Staal piece, it took about two good long days. We used a 90-foot crane that allows us to get up there to get the piece affixed to the outside of the windows.”
The most unique thing, he says, about that particular element of the project, is that the whole thing was cut out. “We didn’t just take a two x two-foot piece of glass and fill it with a two x two-foot graphic,” he says. “Some windows had just a little bit of the guy’s shoulder on it or something. We cut out all of the individual pieces at our factory and then, when we put them up, they are tiled together and all the pieces are numbered so that they fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. It takes a lot of prep-work in the shop so that we are then organized and efficient onsite.”