By John Boyle
The Mariners may not be the best team in baseball, but they’re about to have the best video display system.
And while the above sentence isn’t likely to appear on promotional material for next season, it will be pretty interesting to see in person baseball’s biggest HD video board when the 2013 season kicks off. The picture you see is an artist’s rendering of what the new board will look like, and as advertised, it’s really freaking big.
Ever wonder what a hydro race would look like in HD on a 11,425 square-foot screen? We’re about to find out. Also, Mariners fans should be thankful this technology did not exist int he days of Randy Johnson and his mullet. And finally, this should provide a nice distraction to drivers who are stuck in traffic on the reconfigured Alaskan Way Viaduct. Just be sure to keep one eye on the road.
Here is the release from the team:
The Seattle Mariners today announced that a high definition video display system will be installed at Safeco Field for the 2013 baseball season, replacing the main scoreboard in centerfield with what will be the largest in Major League Baseball and among the largest in all of sports.
The new video screen replaces the scoreboard that was built in 1999, the inaugural season of Safeco Field. Measuring 56.7-feet high by 201.5-feet wide and covering 11,425 square feet, the new video screen fills the same location and space as the old scoreboard, but because the entire thing is a high definition screen, the video space itself is nearly 10 times the size of the current video screen. The viewing area will be equal to about 2,182 42-inch flat screen TVs.
“Northwest sports fans have never seen anything like this. From the high-resolution imagery to the dynamic presentation, this new video screen provides the flexibility to present real-time game information in a way we’ve never been able to do until now,” said Kevin Martinez, Seattle Mariners Vice President of Marketing.
“The Mariners are committed to building a winner on the field and providing fans with a great experience at the ballpark. After 13-plus seasons, fans have been asking, ‘When are we going to replace the scoreboard?’ It’s time,” said Martinez.
The new Panasonic HD video screen will combine 1080p x 3840 screen resolution and Surface Mount LED technology, which uses more pixels and therefore produces higher quality images. Paired with the latest ANC Sports VisionSOFT operating system, Safeco Field’s new video screen will have image quality that is superior to broadcast HD signals. VisionSOFT is the first 64-bit operating system in large format live event display. ANC Sports is a long-time Mariners partner for signage operations and integration at Safeco Field.
“1080p live sports is an experience unavailable in ballparks or to home viewers until now. It’s like the difference between normal HD programming and a Blu-ray disc, except displayed on an enormous scale. You’ll be able to see details like blades of grass and the texture of the infield dirt. Fans will be amazed when they see it,” said Dave Curry, Seattle Mariners Vice President of Technology.
The entire board can be programmed for live action or video replays or split into sectors for graphics, animation and statistical data. “There is a growing desire among fans to delve more deeply into individual player statistics and the new board will let us present the stats, along with everything else, in a way that we think will improve the game experience,” said Martinez.
Although the new video screen will be state-of-the-art, “We’ve made a conscious effort to design the graphics to fit the overall design and architecture of Safeco Field. The presentation will be crisp and clean and will even incorporate some classic ballpark elements seen not only at Safeco Field, but in some of the game’s classic ballparks,” said Martinez.
This is the third of three steps to replace the old scoreboard system at Safeco Field. The LED Out-of-Town scoreboard was installed in left field before the 2010 season, and in 2011, LED ribbon boards were installed on the Terrace Club fascia. The in-house production, broadcast and entertainment systems are also being upgraded to high definition.
The video screen and production upgrades are part of an estimated $15 million maintenance and capital improvement plan for Safeco Field to be completed before the 2013 season. The Mariners, who are responsible for maintenance, capital improvements and operations of Safeco Field, have invested over $80 million in the ballpark since 1999. All current improvements to Safeco Field are scheduled to be completed in time for the home opener on April 8 vs. the Houston Astros.