Author: Tom Gibbons
Date: October 17,2007

Chase Field, Phoenix, home of Major League Baseball’s Arizona
Diamondbacks, will soon be home to the largest TV screen for any
pro sports facility in North America.The Maricopa County Stadium
District, which owns Chase Field, has issued a request-for-proposal
for a 144-foot-wide by 55-foot-tall high definition television
screen. The price tag is expected to be a little more than $12
million, Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall said.The screen will
easily outpace the current leader, Atlanta Braves’ HD screen
at Turner Field, which is 79 feet wide by 71 feet tall, he said.
The distinction won’t last long – the Dallas Cowboys
have announced plans for a screen that is 180-feet-wide by
50-feet-high for the stadium they are building in Irving, Texas
— making it the largest in the world.Chase Field’s
current Sony Jumbotron TV is 52-feet-wide by 31-feet-tall. The
dimensions of the new screen were determined by the combined size
of Chase’s center field video displays, including the
scoreboard, message board and rotating display
advertising.Jumbotron has become the generic term for stadium big
screens, but Sony actually quit making and supporting the product
some time ago, Diamondbacks officials said. The Chase Jumbotron is
one of the last still in use.“They’re not making
replacement parts,’’ Hall said. “So if something
were to break, that’s it. We can’t fix
it.”Although usually that means some problem with the
inner-workings, Richie Sexson famously slugged a homer 503 feet for
the Diamondbacks in 2004 and hit the TV screen. The blast left a
small but clearly visible black spot on the picture for a few days
before a chip was swapped out.Giant TV screens in outdoor stadiums
are a relatively new feature. None existed until 1980 when the Los
Angeles Dodgers unveiled a Mitsubishi DiamondVision for the
All-Star Game. There was no sound system to go with it.The San
Francisco Giants home, AT&T Park, and the Florida Marlins and
the Miami Dolphins home stadium have been retrofitted with new,
larger high definition screens. Hall said the Diamondbacks would
see little revenue upside from the new scoreboard. “Our plate
is pretty much full as far as inside the building,’’ he
said. Hall declined to share advertising revenue figures.Hall said
the team plans to go with a “less is more philosophy.”
“We plan to cut down on some of the clutter,’’ he
said. “We’re more interested in adding elements for the
fans.”The Diamondbacks have in-game hosts who talk to fans
via the big screen between innings pointing out various promotions,
giveaways and contests. The goal is to make the video board an
attraction in itself, said Steve Goldberg, the team’s senior
manager of graphic and signage operations.“You’ll be
able to see things you can’t see at home,’’
Goldberg said. “We want the fan to say, ‘I can see a
lot more at the ballpark. So I want to go there.’”The
enhanced video screen allows for shots from multiple camera angles
to be seen at once. Goldberg said there will be a capability for
more vivid graphics and more in-depth statistics. Chase Field is
used for concerts, motocross and monster truck events. At the
motocross events, the video screen will be able to show more than
one motorcycle at a time. “For monster truck, you might have
a shot of an object that’s been destroyed and a shot of
something that’s about to be destroyed,’’ said
Goldberg, who works some of the off-season events. “Some of
it will just be people thinking outside the box,’’ he
said. The video board will be the latest upgrade in the stadium.
Two years ago the sound system was overhauled. Last season, an LED
message ribbon was added.“This will bring our building up to
state-of-the-art, even though its 10 years old,” Hall said.
Hall said the team hopes to land the Major League Baseball All-Star
Game, which usually goes to new venues but so far has eluded
downtown Phoenix.The bid evaluation process will end as soon as the
Diamondbacks’ season ends, which Hall hopes will be later
rather than sooner. The Diamondbacks made it through the first
round of the National League playoffs.Hall said the RFP is for a
general contractor who will then choose the big screen vendor.
“They’ll decide if it's Daktronics or Mitsubishi or
somebody else,’’ he said.Goldberg said the actual
removal and installation process should take two to three months.
The process will include moving the two editing suites and adding a
room for HD controls.In a separate venture, the team plans to
replace the 200 TVs throughout the ballpark with high definition
TVs, Hall said. — Tom GibbonsInterviewed for this stroy:
Derrick Hall, (602) 462-6500; Steve Goldberg, (602) 462-6500