A rendering of how the new video display screen will look at Safeco Field in 2013. / Seattle Mariners
While debating the more elusive goal of improving the club on the field, the Mariners are upgrading their primary investment of Safeco Field by spending an estimated $10 million on one of the biggest stadium screens in the world, a high definition video display system nearly a city block in length.
The ostentatious, high-definition bling replaces the original scoreboard installed for the 1999 opening that had operational problems.
The largest in MLB, “Northwest sports fans have never seen anything like this," Kevin Martinez, vice president of marketing said in a press release. "From the high-resolution imagery to the dynamic presentation, this new video screen provides the flexibility to present real-time game information in a way we’ve never been able to do until now."
The entire board can be programmed for live action or video replays or split into sectors for graphics, animation and statistical data.
“There is a growing desire among fans to delve more deeply into individual player statistics and the new board will let us present the stats, along with everything else, in a way that we think will improve the game experience,” said Martinez.
The screen, 56 feet by 201 feet, is nearly 10 times the size of the old board, and will be operational in March, in time for the April start of the 2013 season.
The viewing area will be equal to about 2,182 42-inch flat screen TVs.
The Panasonic HD screen will combine 1080p x 3840 screen resolution and surface mount LED technology, which uses more pixels and produces higher quality images.
“1080p live sports is an experience unavailable in ballparks or to home viewers until now," said Dave Curry, Mariners vice president of technology. "It’s like the difference between normal HD programming and a Blu-ray disc, except displayed on an enormous scale. You’ll be able to see details like blades of grass and the texture of the infield dirt."
The video screen and production upgrades are part of an estimated $15 million maintenance and capital improvement plan for Safeco Field to be completed before the 2013 season, said the Mariners, who are responsible for maintenance, capital improvements and operations of of the park. They claim to have invested more than $80 million in the ballpark since 1999.