LITITZ, Pa. — Cross Hammer Creek and drive down Erbs Bridge Road, take a few more turns past grazing cows and you come to the 96-acre Rock Lititz campus — a high-tech-looking corporate complex with a new hotel.
Here in Lancaster County last week, the live-events-staging firm Tait, which counts Beyoncé and Phish among its clients, was putting the new $15 million Wells Fargo Center scoreboard, with more than 19 million lighting pixels, through it paces inside a tall studio.
So far the going was slow — the different parts of the scoreboard opening and contracting — because it was early in the process. But Tait employees were excited. They see more than a work of design and manufacturing coming to fruition.
“Nobody has done this before. Nothing like it exists in the world,” Tyler Kicera, head of the Tait Kinetix division producing the scoreboard, said last week as he walked under the monster board with many moving parts.
Tait designed and installed a dynamic, or kinetic, scoreboard for the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in Texas. But the Cowboys scoreboard is affixed to a wall and does not hang in the center of an arena like the one for Wells Fargo, Tait officials say.
Kicera compared the new Wells Fargo Center scoreboard’s moving effects to that of the staging for the Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, with a light-beating chandelier above the dance floor, or the Red Hot Chili Peppers for its Getaway World Tour, set with lights that floated over the thousands of fans.
The scoreboard’s installation in South Philadelphia — expected by mid-September — is part of a $265 million renovation that Comcast Spectacor announced in early 2018. As part of the project, Comcast Spectacor said in February that it would install the new scoreboard with almost three times the screen footage of the current one. It comes with high-resolution 4K screens for replays and flashing-light crowns that sweep over the main part of the center-hung scoreboard, adding glitz to Flyers goals and Sixers swishes.
"The old board was like a dial-up modem; the new board is like Xfinity WiFi,” Valerie Camillo, president of business operations for the Philadelphia Flyers and Wells Fargo Center, quipped last week. She added that “there is no way on Earth that fans would not notice the difference. And it will have elements of motion, pyrotechnics, lighting, and smoke.”
Planning began in mid-2018 in Lititz.
Tait, with about 400 employees in Pennsylvania and 300 more around the globe, designs and manufactures concert sets for such artists as Beyoncé and Lady Gaga, and staging for events such as the recent Fortnite tournament at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City.
Its manufacturing plant — which is separate from the Rock Lititz campus — is a former ball-bearing plant on West Lincoln Avenue in an industrial part of Lititz, next to a Cargill cocoa-processing plant and across the street from a Johnson & Johnson consumer products plant.
Props from Tait’s sets decorate the building. There are couches from Lady Gaga’s Artpop Ball tour in 2014 and the Jemp truck that the band Phish drove into Madison Square Garden for its New Year’s Eve 2013 concert in the Tait employee cafeteria.
In July, the Wells Fargo Center scoreboard parts were shipped about a mile away to the Rock Lititz campus, which includes a studio and hotel, to be assembled and tested.
Scott Levine, senior project manager at Tait, said that about 40 workers fabricated the new Wells Fargo scoreboard at the plant in May and June. While substantially larger, the new scoreboard will hang from the roof at the Wells Fargo Center. Tait manufactured it from aluminum to keep it under 90,000 pounds. It also will partly collapse and retract on the ceiling of the Wells Fargo Center.
Around Aug. 20, Tait will ship the scoreboard parts to Philadelphia, about 75 miles away, in 16 tractor trailers and three flatbed trucks. Its workers will then assemble and hang it from the Wells Fargo roof, fitting the installation between the Jonas Brothers’ and Shawn Mendes’ concerts at the Wells Fargo Center.
After the Mendes concert, Tait has a deadline to complete the scoreboard installation by the Flyers’ first preseason game against the New York Islanders on Sept. 16.