At The Ballpark: Rangers Win Race Against the Clock on HD Upgrade
In anticipation of the first pitch of the 2011 Major League Baseball season, SVG will provide an in-depth look at the video-system makeovers at ballparks around the country, including Citizens Bank Park, Fenway Park, Miller Park, Minute Maid Park, and Rangers Ballpark.
It has been a whirlwind 12 months for the Texas Rangers, who are coming off their first World Series appearance in franchise history. While the unprecedented success has brought renewed excitement to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, the deep postseason run — combined with a lengthy ownership battle that was not resolved until August — also created an extremely tight time frame for a planned HD upgrade of the ballpark’s control room, video boards, and in-house video and audio systems.
“The biggest challenge was the fact that Rangers ownership was tied up in bankruptcy proceedings until very late in the season and then they went all the way to the World Series for the first time,” says WJHW VP Chris Williams, the design consultant on the project. “It was difficult to get the necessary people to pull the final trigger. As a result of the Rangers’ doing so well, those triggers didn’t get pulled until the very end of the season.”
Nonetheless, Sony’s Systems Solutions Group, Daktronics, and subcontractor Burst completed the $13 million HD overhaul in time for Rangers opening day on April 1.
“The final [control-room] design was completed in early January, but certain elements were still being finalized even after we were already on-site,” says John Switzer, VP of system sales for Burst. “That took a lot of cooperation between our design team, Sony, Daktronics, the Rangers, and Chris Williams’s folks.”
Delivering on a Promise
The installations makes good on a promise made by the team’s new ownership to Rangers fans when the Chuck Greenberg/Nolan Ryan-led group acquired the team last year.
“New management came in and wanted to do a lot of things to upgrade the facility, but there was a big question whether or not they were going to pull it off in time for the season,” says Steve Stubelt, director of sales & marketing solutions, Sony Electronics. “At one point, they thought they might just do the control room and then wait on the LED display and then finally decided they would do them both.”
The venue’s aging 24- x 36-ft. SD video board in right field has been replaced with a massive 42- x 120-ft. (5,040-sq.-ft.) Daktronics LED HD display. In addition to the primary right-field board, a 25- x 29-ft. Daktronics HD display replaced an SD board atop the office building at centerfield. In addition, a Daktronics Pro Star video display board, which replaced a manual scoreboard in left field prior to the 2009 season, has been upgraded to HD.
The Control Room
Feeding the new HD displays is a completely revamped control room driven by a Sony MVS-8000X switcher. The room is also outfitted with an EVS slow-motion–replay system, an Evertz routing system, four Chyron LEX3 graphic systems, a Click Effects Crossfire system (for instant access to video and audio clips), two Ross servers (to be used as clip servers), a Riedel intercom system, and a Sony FWD series monitor wall with Evertz multiviewers.
“In many ways, the control room hadn’t been significantly upgraded since the room was built 17 years ago,” says Williams. “So it was a big step up for them.”
Most of the park’s infrastructure is still triax-based, although Burst installed fiber connectivity to selected areas, such as the production-truck dock and remote-control–camera systems.
The Rangers video staff will deploy three Sony HSC-300K main cameras, one Sony PMW-350K shoulder-mount camcorder, and two wireless PMW-EX1R camcorders. In addition, the ballpark has three pan-tilt-zoom camera systems: a Canon BU-46H in centerfield to capture the “Kids Zone,” a Panasonic unit in the interview room, and a Sony BRC-H700 in the announce booth that centers on PA announcer (and VP of In-Park Entertainment) Chuck Morgan during the game.
“The [pan-tilt-zoom camera] in the PA room is really unique to the Rangers,” says Williams. “Chuck Morgan wears a lot of hats: scoreboard producer, executive producer, as well as the announcer. He is a very distinctive voice at Rangers games, and this gives fans a better chance to experience that.”
The IPTV System
The new-and-improved Rangers Ballpark also features a comprehensive IPTV digital network that incorporates the Daktronics LED boards, existing ribbon and field-level displays that were installed in 2009, and more than 800 new Sony LCD monitors throughout the venue.
Keeping Up With the (Jerry) Joneses
Rangers Ballpark sits just a parking lot away from Cowboys Stadium, the brainchild of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and one of the most state-of-the-art (and expensive) venues in the world. As a result, the Rangers had plenty to live up to.
“As is often the case when one facility upgrades in a marketplace, it puts the pressure on the other facility to keep up with the technology,” says Stubelt. “If your neighbor has a new BMW, you’re going to look at upgrading your car. In this case, it’s literally ‘keeping up with the Joneses.’ But I think [Rangers Ballpark] is now among the most advanced in baseball.”
The Rangers’ new control room will look familiar to anyone with knowledge of the Cowboys Stadium control room, which was also a Sony-Burst integration. This is largely due to the incestuous nature of the Dallas production community.
“Making [the control room similar to Cowboys Stadium] was very important to the Rangers because a lot of the same freelancers work for both teams,” says Stubelt. “Since you have the same switcher, router, cameras, and so on, you can use the same people in both facilities.”