Downtown Las Vegas will lay claim to the world’s largest and brightest high-def video display when workers complete a $32-million overhaul of the Fremont Street Experience late this year.
Construction began last week to upgrade the 1,377-foot-long Viva Vision canopy that arches 90 feet above five blocks of Fremont Street. The new technology replaces the existing lacy, white light panels with a dark black mesh grid embedded with more than 66,000 custom-made LED modules.
The new display will be four-times sharper and shine seven-times brighter than the existing canopy, which was installed in 1995. The high-contrast background and brilliant lights create images that appear vivid in daylight, allowing operators to program the video screen to run 24 hours a day rather than dusk to 1 a.m.
Patrick Hughes, president of the Fremont Street Experience, said new street-level video columns will be integrated with the canopy and hundreds of audio speakers to deliver “a fully immersive audiovisual experience to downtown.”
Hughes said developers are creating programming synchronized to each hour of the day. As examples, visitors at sunrise might see and hear a crowing rooster walk from one end of the display to the other. Later in the day, the display may dissolve into ocean waves lapping the shore or fireworks at night.
“We’ll program the entire display as one large video screen rather than smaller individual blocks so that it feels like a single, cohesive artist’s palette,” Hughes said. “It’ll be artistic and fun but won’t be full of advertising like Times Square” in New York City.
“Visitors will be able to control certain aspects of the display with an app on their phones.” said Hughes. “And we can add position-aware visuals, so when you fly over the space in SlotZilla [zip line], we can program the screen to display ‘lucky charms’ sparks flying off your shoes. This will be like nothing you’ve ever seen.”
The renovation will take place mostly during the wee hours of the night, with workers replacing small segments of the display canopy each night. The panels will be activated in a low-resolution mode to match the existing display until the new technology and programming are revealed during a big gala on New Year’s Eve.
Downtown Las Vegas draws more than 19 million visitors a year, according to data from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority; more than half of those visitors cited the Fremont Street Experience as downtown’s main draw.
Hughes said the completed project and a new 40-story hotel under construction at the north end of the canopy, Circa, are expected to more than double the number of daytime visitors to the famous stretch of downtown, adding that the new Experience – along with the planned opening of the Circa hotel and casino the following Dec. 31 – “will make this the center of New Year’s Eve celebrations in the West.”