In 2011, the Chicago White Sox opened a 12,000 sq ft (1115 sq m) flagship store, the Chicago Sports Depot, which is a one-stop shopping destination for fans of local professional and college sports teams. Fully engaging sports fans young and old with dramatic displays of exclusive gear, abundant memorabilia, and rich visuals, the store incorporates Chicago sports into every design detail, taking the immersive experience to the next level — literally. Covered in 15,000 LED nodes, the store's eye-catching main staircase serves as a digital Chicago sports-centric video screen, providing a step up from the average stair-climbing experience.
"The goal is to be the best sports merchandise and apparel store in the country," Chicago Sports Depot General Manager Joe Nigro explained. "As soon as [customers] walk in the door, we want them to be wowed and to carry that feeling of awe throughout the store." To achieve this goal, the design team had to come up with innovative ways to go beyond the usual recipe of graphics, display pieces, and accent lighting. Working directly with the design firm RGLA and the owner of the flagship store, Delaware North Companies, Philips Color Kinetics provided a lighting solution that would take a purely functional staircase and turn it into a visual centerpiece.
RGLA designed a contemporary metal-and-glass staircase with sporty lines, a monochromatic palette, and glass railings that would allow visitors full view of the stair steps. Philips Color Kinetics, who collaborated on the lighting design, installed rows of closely-spaced Philips Color Kinetics iColor Flex MX LED nodes on each riser of the staircase. Digitally controlled and able to produce millions of colors, the intelligent color-changing LED nodes bring the staircase to life with light shows and baseball-inspired video loops. The state-of-the-art LED system allows the store to create engaging and relevant displays that transform the staircase from an interruption in the store's sports-themed experience into a platform that further enhances it.
The control system features a Pharos TPC controller that sends scheduling signals to a Green Hippo Critter media content server, which then sends the video data to the iColor Flex MX nodes on the staircase. The Pharos and Green Hippo controllers work seamlessly with the LED fixtures, affirming the flexibility of Philips Color Kinetics LED lighting solutions.
"I think this store sets the example and the tone for where we are going to go in the future," said Delaware North Companies Sportservice Vice President of Retail Jeff Hess. "With projects like the Chicago Sports Depot, we are making a mark in the industry."