Anyone familiar with Lyman High School in Longwood, Florida, will know they think big and plan big. So, when it was time to build a brand new stadium, they pulled out all the stops. One of the stars at the new facility is the creative use of windscreen in multiple ways, successfully joining all the visual aesthetics and culminating in one stunning piece that less bold thinkers would never have attempted.
“We wanted something dramatic,” said Robert Drake, Lyman’s athletic field project director. “Our goal was, right at the entrance, to visually establish our new look with something that said visiting our facility will be extraordinary in every way. It took a lot of work, a lot of stops and starts. But Tony Mann, our Ball Fabrics sales rep, was with us every step of the way offering many helpful suggestions and what we ultimately achieved is even better than we ever imagined.”
Working with the professionals at Ball Fabrics, Inc., Drake and his team initially chose PrivacyPlus to cover the fencing around and beneath the bleachers. With a 95% opacity, PrivacyPlus successfully blocks unsightly areas, establishes a secure boundary, and visually joins various parts of the facility for a smooth, seamless, finished look.
The versatility of printed windscreen enabled the field project team to brand their logo and team slogans at every opportunity. Ball Fabrics customer service representatives helped select various windscreen products that work together beautifully but which, taken individually, perform different jobs. The Lyman project utilized the visual blockage of PrivacyPlus, the extraordinary ink-adherence of VCP for printing logos and slogans, and fence mural fabric for the top of the stadium…showcasing what can be done when working with an experienced company that understands how to maximize the particular strengths and qualities of each kind of windscreen.
But all of that was just warm up to the main event – a 12’ x 38’ fence mural depicting past and present Lyman athletes performing their specific event – stretched across the back of the bleachers. It is the first thing people see when they park and head toward the stadium. The challenges of designing and printing the extra-large mural were numerous, and some of them seemed overwhelming.
“Our Booster Club built that amazing front entrance,” Drake explained. “Once we saw what they had done we realized we wanted to finish it off with something fantastic. We had an idea what we wanted, but could never have accomplished it without all the hands-on, dedicated help and expertise from Ball Fabrics. In spite of all the challenges no one over there ever said it couldn’t be done.”
The mural started out as a much smaller project designed for inside the gym. Photos were taken of various school athletes and layout began. As it took shape the stadium was also coming together. So the project design team decided to take it outdoors, super-size it, and make a powerful branding statement.
At that point they knew what they wanted but weren’t sure it could actually be done. They approached Ball Fabrics, already working on the other fence murals and graphics, and showed them the plans.
“Our digital arts guy got with the Ball Fabric print specialists and they worked hard to get the colors right,” Drake said. “Our colors had to be spot on. We were very exacting. They did quite a few print runs before we got it right. We printed several small samples and hung them on the fence at the site. When the first printings didn’t quite match those guys were always willing to go back to the drawing board and try again.”
“Once every element had been figured out and finessed…the right colors, the final design, the backing, how to visually frame it for maximum effect…they had to figure out how to giant size it.”
The primary issue was the sheer size and graphic complexity. Fence mural fabric, and the giant machines that print on it, top out at 10’. So the mural design had to be split in half lengthwise, printed, then sewn together in a way that matched perfectly. This isn’t so difficult with a simple logo or large block letters where a slight mismatch would not be apparent.
But the mural is a finely detailed graphic. Even a quarter-inch discrepancy along the entire 38 foot length would be glaring. An unusual level of precision printing was necessary to print the two halves so they could be joined into one huge mural and match up perfectly.
“The entrance to our new stadium,” Drake summarized, “is something you would expect to see at any college or major athletic team. We couldn’t be more pleased with the way it has turned out. People are blown away when they see it and their number one question is, how can they get something like that for themselves.”