ANC Sports has done many video board installations over the years, but its latest high-profile job at Safeco Field in Seattle was different in a lot of ways. Not only did the Mariners buy the screen themselves from Panasonic, the new structure is almost a record breaker.
The new high-definition video display system replaces the main scoreboard in centerfield with the largest in Major League Baseball—56.7 feet high by 201.5 feet wide, covering 11,425 square feet—and among the largest in all of sports, just shy of the standard bearer at Cowboys Stadium.
The screen fills the same location and space as the old scoreboard installed when the stadium opened in July 1999, but because it’s a high definition screen, the video space—equal to almost 2,200 42-inch flat-screen TVs—is nearly 10 times the size of the original.
“ANC has a long relationship with the Mariners,” says Chris Mascatello, executive VP of technology sales and services for ANC Sports. “We’ve been working with them for more than four years on display software and operations, so we acted as the secondary owners of the video board. At the end of the day, it went together as seamlessly as it could have.”
Inside The Installation
The new Panasonic HD video screen combines 1080p x 3840 resolution (the equivalent of two 1080p HD screens and about one-half of an UltraHD/4K image) and 16mm Surface Mount LED technology, which uses more pixels to produce higher quality images. Paired with ANC’s VisionSOFT operating system, Safeco Field’s new video screen has image quality that is superior to broadcast HD signals. The entire board can be programmed for live action or video replays or split into sectors for graphics, animation and statistical data.
What’s interesting is the Mariners never talked about setting a record with their new video board, says Mascatello.
“The important thing to them was maximizing the space they had and staying on the front end of the technology curve,” he says. “The video board dominates the in-bowl experience. It’s incredible to see, but we needed to make sure it wouldn’t stick out since Safeco is modeled like a retro ballpark. They couldn’t be happier with how it fit in.”
Because the Safeco Field retractable roof is open for most games and during most off-hours, the screen had to be weatherproof. It also had to have a strong enough air filtration system to withstand some of the dust and debris that’s blown from a nearby railyard that backs up to the stadium.
Good Things Take Time
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 LED ribbon boards were installed on the Terrace Club fascia in 2011. 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 the Mariners did to Safeco Field this offseason.
“The evolution from three years ago to now was a process,” says Mascatello, noting ANC replaced some static signage as part of the upgrades. “The biggest hurdle was the trafficking of animated content from the ANC server in New York.”