by Katie Parrish
Challenge: In a shortened time frame, design and install an audio-visual system that allows 8,000 audience members to see and hear presentations and live entertainment in a 12,000-seat arena.
Solution: Incorporate six screens 150 feet apart and implement time-saving measures, including moving lights, pre-programmed and pre-built equipment, and rigging the site ahead of schedule.
With nearly 6,000 retail locations, Walgreens Co., is one of the fastest growing drugstore chains in the nation. Every other year, the Deerfield, Ill.–based company flies thousands of its top managers to a central location for corporate meetings. As the company steadily continues to grow — it added more than 500 stores in fiscal 2007 — the number of Walgreens Show attendees also increases, requiring the company to implement a new strategy to stage its biennial event.
This year, the Walgreens Show took place from July 29 to August 2 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and was the company’s largest ever. Its sheer size required the company to forego its traditional ballroom venue for something much bigger — a 30,218-square-foot, 12,000-seat arena at the Mandalay Bay. But creating a warm, engaging, and motivating environment for nearly 8,000 managers inside the cavernous center was no simple task.
Chicago-based Show Department — a show staging company that provides temporary staging services to production companies, producers, meeting planners, corporations, and associations — worked in conjunction with Walgreens’ production department. “Our involvement started before final venue selection had been made, which was about a year and a half out,” says Richard Sullivan, project manager and technical director for Show Department.
While Walgreens worked with Show Department’s production arm, Resolution Digital Studios, to develop and produce all the video content, Show Department staged the event and supplied the technology, such as sound, lights, video, and communications. In total, it brought $11 million worth of equipment to Las Vegas for the event.
Show Department’s biggest challenge was designing the audio-visual portion of Corporate Day — the largest portion of the event and the only meeting that all attendees are together in one room — in such a way that each audience member could clearly see and hear the corporate presentations during the day and the live entertainment in the evening. Show Department also faced a scheduling conflict in the arena that shortened the already tight agenda.
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