Just in time for the beginning of Centennial Yards’ construction and the Atlanta Hawks’ trek into the NBA postseason, State Farm Arena has lifted the veil on its first exterior marquees and an LED system that officials are hailing as dazzling landmarks visible for blocks.

Located on opposite sides of the arena, the huge displays will include nearly 9,000 square feet of high-def digital signage and 8 million LEDs that audiovisual engineering company Daktronics says will provide “stunningly clear imagery from any distance,” according to an announcement this week.

Expect live video and broadcast streams and various ads—surely to include spots for the Centennial Yards development, like screens inside the arena—on LED boards near Mercedes-Benz Stadium and another facing Centennial Olympic Park.

The former LED project debuted this week for the Hawks’ first NBA Play-In Tournament Game, a 132-103 throttling of the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night.

State Farm Arena's first exterior marquee, standing 42-feet tall and weighing 88 tons, debuted its LED boards in April. Atlanta Hawks/ State Farm Arena; designs, Daktronics

That marquee stands more than 42-feet tall—weighing 88 tons—at the corner of State Farm Drive and Dominique Wilkins Way on Centennial Olympic Park Drive, above the stadiums’ underground MARTA station. It’s 70 percent the size of an NBA full court, with nearly 3 million LEDs/pixels, according to project officials.

But the real “spectacular” showstopper is expected to be flipped on sometime this summer, per team and arena leaders.

Screenshot: Atlanta Hawks/ State Farm Arena; designs, Daktronics

Located at the corner of Marietta Street and Centennial Olympic Park Drive, the new wrap signage will be 138-feet wide and 36-feet tall, topped with a separate circular display more than 20 feet in diameter—collectively almost triple the size of roadway billboards.

It’s being installed above Hudson Grille restaurant and bar—between the Glenn Hotel and CNN Center, diagonal from Centennial Olympic Park—to replace an oversized clock structure and “ATLANTA” signage mirroring that on the side of the arena.

Construction on the former clock structure and "ATLANTA" wall overlooking Centennial Olympic Park in February. Josh Green/Urbanize Atlanta

After debuting in the mid-1990s as part of Philips Arena, the clock had stopped working (plagued with technical issues) before the structure took a direct hit from a tornado that tore through downtown and Cabbagetown in March 2008. The clock and signage were left in shambles for more than four years as arena officials worked with the city on a proper replacement that initially included a new LED timepiece—later used as ad space—standing 24-feet tall off the side of the building.

Hawks and arena CEO Steve Koonin predicts the installations will become “signature landmarks downtown,” and not mere billboards.

“By any metric, State Farm Arena is one of the top arenas in the world, and its new marquee will bring the incredible feel and energy from within the building to the outside in breathtaking fashion,” Koonin said in a media release. “The spectacular board will complement it all with the bright lights and visuals reminiscent of Times Square.”  

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