O's picture clearer

The Baltimore Sun

The Maryland Stadium Authority voted yesterday to purchase a $5.2 million video and scoreboard display to replace the failing Sony JumboTron at Camden Yards.

Under the agreement, ANC Sports Enterprises and Mitsubishi have guaranteed that the new display will be in place by March 17, two weeks before Opening Day.

The video display was the largest part of a $9 million project agreed to by the stadium authority and the Orioles last month. A revamped audio system and a high-definition video control room are the other major parts.

"We're pleased to offer fans a video experience that will be unsurpassed by any other ballpark in America," authority chairman Frederick W. Puddester said.

A 24-by-74-foot screen above the scoreboard will be the centerpiece of the new video display. (The old JumboTron was 23 feet by 31 feet.) The main scoreboard, the out-of-town scoreboard in right field and the "ribbon" scoreboards on decks around the park also will be upgraded.

The new video screen and scoreboards will operate on light-emitting diode (LED) technology, creating a much sharper picture than the old JumboTron, which operated much like a traditional television set. The screens will be capable of accepting a high-definition picture, though not all images on them will appear in high definition.

"It has long been our goal to improve this original technology, and we are pleased to be able to provide our fans with a state-of-the-art video system and LED boards that will both enhance the ballpark experience and preserve the traditional aesthetic that is a defining characteristic of Oriole Park," Orioles communication director Greg Bader said in a written statement. "We appreciate the Maryland Stadium Authority's efforts in working with us to accomplish this important goal."

The SmartVision video screens at M&T; Bank Stadium use LED technology.

The new display at Camden Yards will most resemble the one at Atlanta's Turner Field, which Orioles and authority officials inspected in preparation for the bid. ANC Sports and Mitsubishi also are designing the video display for the Washington Nationals' new ballpark.

After the Board of Public Works approved the deal between the authority and the Orioles, officials from both sides acknowledged that an Opening Day deadline would be tight.

It's still not clear whether a new audio system and control room for the video display will be in place by Opening Day, though Puddester said that's the goal.

The authority has yet to approve bids for those segments of the project, though it did pre-approve a bid limit of $1.8 million for the audio work at yesterday's meeting.

The installation of the video display could not have been performed during the season, so the authority and Orioles moved on it first. Demolition for the project is expected to begin no later than January.

The authority and the Orioles selected the ANC/Mitsubishi proposal over a similar package offered by Daktronics. The difference in price between the two bids was about $100,000, authority officials said.

A panel of three people from the club and three from the authority, along with consultants for each side, agreed unanimously that the Mitsubishi proposal was the best.

The stadium authority and Orioles spent almost a year locked in a dispute over how to replace the JumboTron. They were headed to arbitration until they agreed to a settlement last month. Under the deal, the authority will contribute $3.75 million for upgrades and the Orioles will authorize use of $5.25 million from a fund reserved for ballpark improvements.


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