The Seattle Mariners have announced the next round of improvements for Safeco Field to be completed in time for the 2013 season. Along with their previous announcement of bringing in the fences anywhere from 4-17 feet, Safeco Field will now be home to the largest video replay board in the Major Leagues.
The new video board, which replaces the original video and matrix board that was installed in 1999 before the stadium opened, will measure 56.7-ft high by 201.5-ft wide for a total of more than 11,425 square feet of pure 1080p LED HD. The new board will be the same size as the current one, located above the bleachers in center field, however it will encompass the entire area which makes it more than 10 times the size of the old one.
In their official press release the Mariners had the following to say about their new toy, "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."
How does the new video board compare to others around the sports world?
Back in 2008 when Nationals Park opened as the brand new home of the Nats in Washington D.C. we heard a lot about their beautiful, new, huge, HD video board. It measures 47-ft high by 101-ft wide for a total of only 4,747 sq ft. Which makes the new one in Seattle over two and a half times bigger.
In Cincinnati, at Great American Ball Park, their board measures 39-ft by 138-ft or 5,382 sq ft. Even bigger yet are the ones in Philadelphia at Citizens Bank Park (76-ft high by 97-ft wide, 7,372 sq ft), Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium (105-ft high by 84-ft wide, 8,820 sq ft) and at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA (164-ft wide by 41.5-ft high, 6,806 sq ft).
For a while there the Dallas Cowboys had the biggest HD video board in the world (it still holds the distinction of the largest in the NFL) until the Charlotte Motor Speedway unveiled theirs in 2011 at a whopping 200-ft wide by 80-ft high for a grand total of 16,000 square feet. That is over 8.8 times the size of my 1,800 square foot home! That is huge!
According to the Mariners, the new video screen as well as a few smaller production upgrades are part of the $15 million "maintenance & capital improvement" plan for Safeco Field. They also wanted to make sure that everyone knows that this is money that comes from a different fund than that for player payroll.
With the recent 'video board race to see who can have the biggest and best board in the world, I have to wonder, "How big is too big?"
Is there such a thing as a video board that is "too big" for a ballpark or stadium? I personally feel that you can't judge each video board against the others. I feel that for them to be awesome and to enhance the enjoyment of the fans, they have to be tailored to each ballpark or stadium. I have talked with several Mariner fans this morning and each and every one of them are excited about the new HD video board in Seattle. I can't disagree with that sentiment at all. While the Mariners need to spend some money to make their on field product match the greatness of their home ballpark, I can only feel that the new video board will be a great addition to Safeco Field and I for one can not wait to get to see it in action on Opening Night: April 8, 2013.
Photo credit to VanHouten Photography.