Case study: NHL 2014 Winter Classic

Having partnered with Moss Sports for over twenty years, we have manufactured fabric elements for over 12 Super Bowl games, 6 Winter Classic games, over 4 NFL Pro Bowl games and countless other games over the years.

These orders require lots of organization and within short time lines. Spreadsheets (there are often over 150 different pieces) are updated regularly and sent to the customer and all internal key members. Everyone knows where each piece is in production and can prioritize specific areas to align with the installation.

While each game is in a different location for different sporting events, the flow of each project remains consistent. Flags Unlimited has always supplied the following:

  • Colour matched Pantone swatches on each required fabric.
  • Main design elements of the event are preprinted for approval by both our customers and their end user.
  • Finished to exact size to accommodate installation.
  • Adhered to customer stipulations for production; environmental, labeling, logistics.
  • delivered successfully under short time restraints.

Every box is labelled and a printed directory of where it’s going and what banners are enclosed is included both on the outside and inside of each box. A copy is also sent to the customer prior to shipping so that they can organize the receiving and installation.

SCOPE

2014 was a rather unique year as the NHL started off their special series with the NHL 2014 Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Michigan and then hosted an additional six NHL 2014 Stadium Series events. These elements consisted of over 65 unique pieces produced on DuraMesh and DuraMatte fabric. The elements usually include, but are not limited to:

  • All Stadium Flags
  • Fancing
  • Entry Banners/Trusses
  • Stage Wings
  • Team Bench Banners
  • Penalty Box Banners
  • Rink Perimeter Banners
  • Announcer Platform Banners

Artwork

In this case artwork is submitted to us from the customer. An evaluation is done of this artwork internally to make sure there are no concerns when it comes to printing. This evaluation also helps determine the length of time required to produce each piece.

All of the artwork is translated into mock-ups with unique docket identification numbers. The mock-up gives production clear directions on finishing while the number is used in tracking and filing. The mock-up is also the computer file (PDF usually) that is sent for customer approval. Once this is approved by the customer, alongside the colour and design pre-pro art, we then proceed into production.

Each banner is printed with the customers banner description to aide in the installation process. The banners are then individually packaged and labelled with the same description.

COLOUR MANAGEMENT

Colour samples are produced and shipped prior to the actual job being produced. These samples are produced on various fabrics required and matched so that no matter what fabric or process created each piece, they will match when placed side by side. Where necessary, colours are custom formulated to meet the needs of the specific event look.

Our colour department has a keen eye for matching to physical elements. These samples are usually shipped to the customer’s office and to any site meetings they may be attending so that our customer can get approval from their customer as well.

OBSTACLES

We have the same obstacles each year with Winter Classic, dates and scheduling. Winter Classic games always take place on January 1. Obviously this is a holiday and comes on the tail of Christmas vacations. While that presents its own set of internal scheduling obstacles, it also creates some interesting shipping issues due to holiday closures and inclement weather. To solve this, we completed and shipped the project before Christmas even while we were receiving artwork well into mid-December.

Our aim is to make our customer look good and to deliver on time.

Quality

The fabrics typically used for these events is DuraMatte and DuraMesh. DuraMatte is a display fabric intended for one side printing. It provides an opaque print and vibrant sharp images and colour. It’s the best solution for televised events because there no reflection and you can’t see through it. A must when covering up boards and unsightly areas. DuraMesh is designed to be see through as it is mostly used as fencing and needs to let wind blow through it easily. We reinforce the open weave with webbing along the edges to give it more strength.

Flags Unlimited washes it’s fabrics after printing, a process that no one else does and we are a big believer in. This washing process rids the fabric of excess dye that may run or rub off otherwise.

Since each piece is made specifically for a premeasured part of a venue, size and finishing is strictly adhered to by our exact size policy. If it isn’t finished properly, in can’t be installed correctly. By adding extra printed yardage to the end of each print, we can accommodate for any shrinkage which not only comes from the washing of the fabric, but the sewing too.