A Whole New Ballgame in Southern California: Inside Dodger Stadium’s $100 Million Makeover
Less than a year after Guggenheim Baseball Management finalized its record-breaking purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team unveiled a $100 million renovation of Dodger Stadium, a massive undertaking affecting nearly every facet of the 52-year-old landmark.
Stan Kasten, named president/CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers last year, made certain that his first Opening Day with the team would be a memorable one.
“We have worked extremely hard during the off-season to create the best possible experience for all our fans for the 2013 season,” said Kasten in a statement. “The upgrades were designed with particular emphasis on the Top Deck and Reserve levels and outfield pavilions that had been essentially untouched since the stadium first opened. Our goal is to provide the most pleasurable experience from the time fans arrive at the stadium until the time they depart, ideally after a Dodger victory.”
Returning to Two Hexagonal Boards
On April 1, Dodger Stadium opened its gates for Opening Day, revealing new hexagonal videoboards in left and right field. The Dodgers, who helped to lead the charge toward in-venue color video screens more than 30 years ago, once again find themselves in the forefront of technology in baseball: the two screens are the league’s first 10-mm surface-mount LED displays.
The 1080p-capable displays measure 77.69 ft. wide and range from 38 ft. high in the center to 24 ft. high at the ends, for a total viewing area of approximately 2,488 sq. ft. The team sought to maintain the iconic shape of Dodger Stadium’s original outfield scoreboard displays (the left-field hexagonal display was replaced by a rectangular videoboard in 1980).
“The goal was to bring back those shapes in both areas [and] also maximize the amount of square footage that the Dodgers would have available for the displays,” says Chris Mascatello, EVP, technology sales and services, ANC Sports. “We knew, and the Dodgers knew, that they didn’t want and couldn’t undertake a project to redo the footings and the vertical uprights for the scoreboard structures so they needed to maximize what they could do with the existing support infrastructure.”
ANC Sports, which spearheaded the video portion of the renovation, built the two video screens using rectangular LED segments arranged in a hexagon. The segments create a jagged, stair-step look around the edges, which were then covered by flashing to create the seamless shape. ANC’s VisionSOFT 64-bit content-render system powers the videoboards.
The new scoreboard structures feature a 10-mm LED strip measuring approximately 6 ft. high by 69 ft. wide beneath each video screen. ANC also installed two outfield video-wall displays, each measuring approximately 6 ft. high by 61 ft. wide and an LED ribbon system along the club fascia that runs for 1,121 ft.
As part of the renovation, the team completely gutted the existing SD control room to make way for a new 1080p-capable control room contracted by Sony and integrated by Diversified Systems.
Getting Every Point of View
In addition to the renovation, the Dodgers purchased three Sony HDC-2400 cameras and installed 11 HD pan-tilt-zoom robotic cameras — including nine Canon BU-46 cameras, one Sony BRC-H900 camera, and one Sony BRC-H700 camera (the only pre-renovation PTZ camera to be reused) — around the stadium. The robotic cameras are located in center field, the home and visitor bullpens, low first and low third, mid first and mid third, the press box, at the top of the elevator tower, in the right-field scoreboard, and in the interview room.
In an unusual display of collaboration, the cameras are shared by in-venue game presentation, the television broadcast, and baseball operations. Although certain angles, like the bullpen cameras, are necessary for all three video teams, the Dodgers experimented with angles to create unique perspectives.
“We found a place where we could mount the camera [and] look into the bullpen but also spin all the way around into the bowl,” explains Tom Darin, director of broadcast engineering, Los Angeles Dodgers. “[With] the camera we have on top of our elevator tower, we can see downtown L.A., we can see the Hollywood sign, we can see the beach, we can see Mount Wilson, we can see into the bowl. That one camera gives us an extraordinary range of beauty shots that we can use for everything.”
Connecting the Fans
To better connect fans in the venue, the Dodgers partnered with Major League Baseball Advanced Media to install a WiFi network and distributed antenna system. The team expects to complete the system in June. The Dodgers also installed an electrical-power grid and seven new substations, which required some of the stadium renovation and equipment testing to be done under generator power.
A Short Schedule
Plans to renovate Dodger Stadium were announced in early January. The renovation process, which culminated — save for a few punch-list items — on Opening Day, had been set in motion just a few months earlier.
“We basically did the design, the build, the testing, and the completion in five months, a project that would normally take a year to a year and a half. Everything was accelerated,” explains Darin. “The challenge was that we weren’t just trying to do what everybody else does. We were trying to take what other teams do, not only baseball but all sports, and go a step beyond that.”
Virtually every corner of Dodger Stadium was enhanced during the renovation. From expanding the concourses and restrooms to improving the sound system and concession areas, the Dodgers have transformed the third-oldest and one of the most storied ballparks in Major League Baseball into a 21st-century venue.
“This new ownership group was extremely committed to doing everything that they could … to impact the fan experience, which is one of the main pillars that they talked about in the beginning,” says Erik Braverman, senior director, marketing and broadcast, L.A. Dodgers. “It was an ambitious and aggressive timeline, but we all worked extremely long hours, and it got done.”