The winter weather in Boston is the least of ANC Sports Enterprises’ worries as it spends the Red Sox off-season installing three high-definition video screens in Fenway Park. The bigger concern is that high-tech additions don’t mess with the park’s historic charm.
Like all Fenway Park renovations since the John Henry-led ownership group took over in 2002, the goal is to enhance the Fenway experience without detracting from its character.
It’s hard to imagine three Mitsubishi Diamond Vision video screens - the largest of which is 38 feet high by 100 feet wide - being subtle, but ANC CEO Jerry Cifarelli is up for the challenge.
Fenway Park, he says, provides a good example of what ANC is best at: creating custom solutions for sports venues’ unique fan experiences. “You’re in a historical venue with a team that has a specific philosophy and a conservative fan base. You’re not going to see crazy graphics; it’s not the way the Red Sox want their team presented.”
Cifarelli doesn’t mean politically conservative. He means that Red Sox fans take the games more seriously than most. The flying images and “Get Loud!” graphics that may be popular at other ballparks aren’t likely to resonate with the Fenway Faithful.
ANC is in the process of figuring out how to deliver the right graphical information to Fenway fans, Cifarelli says, in part through “a lot of input” from Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino.
“They want to give their fans a lot of information and statistical data,” Cifarelli says. “Larry wants a lot of data such as pitch counts. We’re figuring out the proper template for giving the fan the most important information at specific moments throughout the game. That’s what’s going to be important to the Red Sox fan.”
It’s certain that the center field scoreboard area will look a lot different. The largest screen will be the main video board and replace many long-standing elements of the green wall above the center field bleachers, including the 23 feet high by 30 feet wide scoreboard familiar to fans since 1999 season.
The new screens will be able to provide approximately 3,800 square feet of dynamic video capabilities in a variety of formats, according to ANC.
There’s still room for subtly. Cifarelli says that driven by ANC’s VisionSOFT operating system, the new main video screen “will be able to mimic the look of the old rotational sponsor signs or dissolve into various formats such as full-screen live video, game action accompanied by real-time statistics, sponsor graphics partnered with box scores or any combination of visuals and game information.”
Flanking the main screen will be two additional displays. The existing Bank of America hitters and pitchers board in left center field will turn into a 17 feet high by 100 feet wide video screen with a new illuminated Bank of America sign atop the board. A third video screen, 16 feet high by 30 feet wide, will connect the Ford and Dunkin Donuts sponsor signs above the bleachers in right field. Both will prominently feature real-time information such as batter and pitcher stats, pitch speed and type, box scores, promotions, announcements, upcoming schedules and other messaging, according to ANC.
ANC’s Fenway project is among the first to leverage its new relationship with software firm ScorePad and its STADIUMnet scoring interface. What that means, ANC’s Director Communications & Marketing Michael Hopkins says, is it will allow ANC to provide Fenway fans with more of the same real-time statistical information and graphics they would see while watching the game on TV at home.
What the Red Sox and ANC determine to be the “proper game presentation” is likely to evolve, Cifarelli says. “We’re in the middle of the installation now and we’re working on the style guide. It’s no different than running a TV show. We’re scripting the show for opening night, but ownership might say, ‘We like this but not that.’ We’ll evolve with the team to create the presentation that gives the fans what they want.”