St. Louis Cardinals’ Busch Stadium Receives Much-Needed Video Revamp
With the help of Diversified, the team reworked the control-room layout and upgraded the equipment to HD prior to the 2016 season
The St. Louis Cardinals may be a perennial contender on the field, but, off it, the team was in desperate need of a rebuild. Until this season, the team’s video control room had not significantly changed since Busch Stadium opened in 2006; for 12 years, the production team relied on all standard-definition equipment and put up with the noise and temperature issues that arise from not having an enclosed rack room.
“It was a good control room but all SD because, in 2006, it was just too expensive to have HD equipment,” explains Craig Wilson, manager, production and creative services, St. Louis Cardinals. “Over the years, we tried to modify it as best we could, but to be able to do a great renovation like we did now … We knew what we wanted to do because we had many years of not quite having the exact right gear for us, but now we’re able to move forward with what we want [to do].”
Prior to this past offseason, the Cardinals tapped Diversified to revamp the control room, which included a rethinking of the architectural layout of the small space. Because the production personnel and equipment racks were confined to the same space, there was no way to control the noise or maintain a temperature that worked for everyone (and everything).
“It wasn’t environmentally controlled, and it wasn’t noise-controlled, and everybody was kind of in the same space. But the challenge definitely was that there wasn’t any more space to be had. So it was a given envelope of space; it just needed to be well thought out,” explains Stuart Reynolds, senior manager, Diversified. “[They needed to] build a formal engineering rack room that’s cooled that can keep the equipment happy and keep all of that noise out of the production space and allow the audio guys to open windows to be able to listen to the bowl.”
The Cardinals also looked to use the space more efficiently. After constructing a formal engineering rack room, the team reconfigured the layout of the benches into a two-tier model facing the field. Eight multiviewer monitors were installed above the windows, so Wilson’s crew can look up to see the displays or down to see the action on the field and in the bowl. And, because the windows can now be opened, Wilson plans to use that to his advantage.
“[We’re] going to be able to hear the crowd pretty much anywhere in the control room,” he says. “That’s what we really like to do because then you can feel what’s going on. You get a gauge for how the fans are, how responsive they are. We’re always trying to get them excited and get them cheering.”
Engaging the fans during Cardinals home games is top priority for the production team. Although Wilson recognizes that fans don’t come to Busch Stadium to watch the videoboard (“They come to the stadium to watch Cardinals baseball”), he sees the videoboard as a way to get fans participating in the action and excited about the team.
“Our fan participation is extremely high,” he says. “So, if we want to do something that’s maybe goofier that other cities wouldn’t be able to do, we would be able to do it here because of fan participation. That’s always a good thing.
“A lot of times when we design things,” he continues, “it’s to get people to talk about it in the stands. We want to engage people to talk to the person next to them. … You can have a pretty educated fan base, but it’s about fan entertainment, too.”
The Cardinals worked with Diversified to select gear that would fit into a 1080i workflow and allow the team to push HD content to the large video display in the bowl and smaller displays throughout the park. The equipment upgrades include Grass Valley 3M/E Karrera K-Frame S-Series production switcher, NV8280 HYBRID router with NV9000 router control, 10 Kaleido-Modular-X multiviewers, and terminal gear; Ross Video XPression graphics systems; and two EVS eight-channel XT3 replay servers. The team maintained its existing Avid Unity workflow for asset management.
To capture content, the Cardinals again turned to Grass Valley, selecting five LDX 80 Premiere switchable 1080i/720p HD cameras: three hard and two wireless. For years, the Cardinals have maintained an excellent relationship with broadcast partner Fox Sports Midwest and with production-truck provider Kaufman Broadcast. The Grass Valley-based truck, which carries two additional LDX 80 cameras and a Dyno replay server, shares a network with the control room in order to share camera feeds, replays, and video files.
“We’ve worked with them closely as long as I’ve been here just sharing footage and always trying to help their show and help them out,” says Wilson, who joined the team in 2006. “It’s a good relationship with our regional broadcast: they help us out, and we help them out as much as we can.”
In addition to the control-room revamp, the Cardinals upgraded the LED displays throughout Busch Stadium with the help of Daktronics. The new main video display measures 40 ft. high by 120 ft. wide with a 13HD pixel pitch — approximately three times the size of the previous display with twice the resolution. Daktronics also installed an out-of-town display (40 x 81 ft., also 13HD) and nine additional 15HD LED displays along the seating fascia, stretching 565 ft.
The project began immediately after the conclusion of last season: a loss to rival Chicago Cubs in the NLDS. Work on the renovation continued throughout the offseason, with control-room integration commencing two months ago and completed in plenty of time for commissioning and training prior to Opening Day.