Rendering of the widest video board in Minor League Baseball at BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo by Charlotte Knights)
BB&T Ballpark, the under-construction home of the Charlotte (N.C.) Knights of Minor League Baseball, is going high-tech. The team announced last week that the ballpark will include a 30-by-82 foot HD video board made up of nearly three million LED lamps. The new board measures six times larger than the team’s previous video board at Knights Stadium.
Total Sports Entertainment Services approached the Charlotte Knights when they first heard of the plan for the new $55-million stadium, due to open in April.
“The process is a little bit reversed, but when we have knowledge that there’s going to be a new facility built, we want to be sure that we have a relationship with that club,” said David Frost, VP of consulting services at TSE Services. The company finds out what the facility is looking for, helps develop a budget, then puts the project out for bid.
Toshiba American Business Solutions won the bid which included more than the video board. In addition to the large screen in left center field, Toshiba also provided a 14-by-35-foot LED exterior video display, an 8-by-120-foot LED ribbon board display along the right field wall, two smaller fascia ribbon displays along the upper level façade, a video ribbon board within BB&T Ballpark’s ticket plaza and LCD menu boards at concession stands throughout the ballpark.
“Our strategy was to design a completely integrated and consistent experience for the Knights' fans,” said Chris Applegate, director of enterprise services at Toshiba Managed Business Services. “We will start engaging the fans before they even enter the ballpark with the exterior ribbon and video board displays while continuing that dynamic audio-video experience throughout all levels of the stadium.”
He added that the focus was to “keep fans informed, involved and, most important, entertained at every step of their experience at BB&T Ballpark.”
The Toshiba video board at BB&T Ballpark's entrance. (Photo by Charlotte Knights)
Charlotte Knights Executive VP and COO Dan Rajkowski said all of the video technology cost approximately $3 million. The Knights made the investment for state-of-the-art video technology in an effort to stay ahead of the curve in the quickly-changing technologic world.
“We felt it was important early on to retain consultants who understood where technology was today and where it was heading,” said Rajkowski. “We’re in a technology society. I wish everyone left their phones at the house but that’s not the reality — they’re bringing their iPhones and iPads to game day.”
“If we don’t adapt, we’ll be left behind,” he added.
Having such a wide aspect ratio will allow programming on the video board to include some technology elements that are important to fans. In addition to being able to show statistics, Frost the board will incorporate photos from Twitter or Instagram, Twitter messages and information that wouldn’t necessarily be available via cell phone, such as the speed of the pitch.
The Knights will also sell advertising on portions of the video board.
“We come from an era where 20 years ago teams were putting up smaller video boards with trivision, and the configurations of the programming on this board can really replace what trivisions can do,” said Frost. “We dictate the ratio and the size of the image so the Knights will really be able to present a unique sales tool to their clients.”
All the video technology is set to be installed after the first of the year which is also when the Knights corporate team will be able to move into the facility.
“We had to shift some funds around, like construction always does, but we’ve been very fortunate and we’re on time and on budget,” said Rajkowski. Seat installation began Oct. 14 with the field drainage system also being put in this week. Concrete will be poured within the next two weeks.
Around 75 percent of the $55-million budget is funded privately through the team, with the remaining 25 percent coming from the public through the city and county.
Construction is on track to complete by April 11, BB&T Ballpark’s opening day.
Interviewed for this story: Chris Applegate, (949) 462-6094; David Frost, (800) 962-2471; Dan Rajkowski, (704) 357-8071