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Hi-Def? Lo-Def?

New Ballpark May Have Manual Scoreboards After All (for a while)

April 1, 2008 10:07 AM

I promise that I'm going to get to the new Nationals ballpark later today. But this little tidbit can't wait.

What started out as a small design and construction problem is quickly turning into a major issue. I've been hearing rumblings for a month or so, but couldn't confirm it until today (EDIT: April the First -- nudge, nudge).

According to the design documents I saw last summer, all of the video cabling for the new park, some of which is already buried in multiple layers of concrete, was designed and is being installed specifically to meet HD-DVD standards. This wouldn't be a problem but for the fact that Toshiba pulled the plug on HD-DVD back in February. As you probably know, Blu-Ray won out in the standards war, and HD-DVD has all but disappeared from the marketplace.

This means that a gigantic investment has been rendered nearly -- but not completely -- unusable. I've been trying to get Dave St. Peter to talk about this but without success so far. Dan Kenney, over at the Ballpark Authority, hasn't actually confirmed it, but when I asked, he would only say (repeatedly) that the Twins have agreed to pay for all cost overruns. I suspect that something like this would have to be considered a cost overrun, right?

Looking into the technology, it appears that unless the cabling can be upgraded in place (a very difficult proposition), the new scoreboards will be limited to 1080I resolution instead of the higher 1080P resolution which had been always intended. From a distance, you might not notice anything at first, but it's really a pretty major downgrade -- considering what they're spending on the various hi-def boards.

The preferred solution is to remove the incompatible cabling and replace it entirely. But this could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, up to six months of retro-fitting, and possibly (though not likely) even jeopardize the April 2010 opening. I did hear that two hand-operated manual scoreboards have been designed and will be built in the summer of 2009 if it looks like the hi-def won't be ready to go for the first few months of the 2010 season. That way they can at least open the park, and maybe even have a little fun with it. (Though I bet the whole mess could get pretty embarrassing...)

Well, today I think I finally confirmed this by peering through the chain link fence on the Seventh Street side. There were a couple of guys working with jackhammers cutting very precise lines in the almost brand new concrete. If you know of another reason why they might be doing this, please let me know because I can't think of any.

I was able to snap this unfortunately blurry picture (click to see a digitally-enhanced version):

Jackhammer guy

On the bright side, the Twins could just choose to stick with HD-DVD, in which case when the park opens they will get a high-end player for $99 and five free HD-DVD movies, including "The Bad News Bears" (Billy Bob Thornton remake version) and "Damn Yankees."

You gotta have heart! Happy April!


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HA..ha... April fools to you to Rickie P.
(love the site good work)

Posted on April 1, 2008 at 10:40 AM by pf386 Highlight this comment 1

dang, you got me. I was thinking Oh Nooooo!!

Posted on April 1, 2008 at 12:08 PM by Dave T Highlight this comment 2

No April fooling here...I had the chance to attend a chamber breakfast this morning at which Dave St. Peter was the keynote speaker. Nothing really groundbreaking to share but I did take a couple of notes...

1) 47 of 55 suites have already been sold
2) They have named two of the banquet/restaurant spaces in the new park: One in left field will be called "The 573 Bar" (in honor of the Killer's HR total)and the other over the home plate ballpark entrance will be called "Twins Pub". I may have the locations flip-flopped but the one over the homeplate entrance will have a balcony looking out to 7th street.
3)The concession partner will be announced next Tuesday. He was careful to note that it was the facilities not the vendor that was subpar at the dome. A fact I did not realize is that the dome vendor Centerplate is also the same vendor as at the Xcel Center. Obviously for any who has attended an event at the X, the food quality difference is night and day, proving DSP's point.
4) Bids are being taken this week for the field and drainage installation. DSP shared that the old Met had no drainage whatsoever, which I thought was interesting.
5)The Twins will move to the First Base dugout in the new stadium to both honor the tradition at the Met, and because they had more space on this side of the lot to put in batting cages, a pitcher's tunnel, and adequate workout room, all things severely lacking at the Dome.
6)DSP reiterated that the plaza stretching up to 1st ave is NOT a done deal. It is "likely" that it will span one full lane of traffic on 6th and will run right up to the NBA City glass wall. They expect NBA city to add outdoor seating if this is the case, something I can imagine will be popular on game days.

That's all she wrote. Go Twins!

Posted on April 1, 2008 at 12:13 PM by John K Highlight this comment 3

The 573 Bar is a great name. Thanks for the info John K.

Posted on April 1, 2008 at 12:23 PM by Lafferty Highlight this comment 4

you had me going too there, rick. but will the new scoreboard be able to replicate the awesomeness that is the "walks will haunt" graphic?

anything to remind people of the great harmon killebrew can only enhance the new park. good name for that new restaurant.

my suggestion for uniforms that mirror the '65 season. at least the home whites. a uniform tweaking to honor those great outdoor teams.

Posted on April 1, 2008 at 12:46 PM by Tim Highlight this comment 5

Rick, You had me thinking...."why in the world would they encase the video cabling in cement?". Good one !!

Posted on April 1, 2008 at 3:20 PM by JohnF Highlight this comment 6

Rick -- THANKS for the thorough analysis. I shared your most recent entry with one of teh Twins technology consultants. His response is below:

1. Blu-Ray and HD-DVD have nothing to do with the ballpark scoreboard. They are technologies used in DVDs for home players.

2. The new stadium will have fiber-optic cabling to the scoreboard. The cabling essentially has infinite capacity and will support ANY sort of HDTV signal.

3. The limiting factor will be the scoreboard itself. There is a significant cost increase as you notch up a scoreboard display from today's commonly-used 720P, to 1080 or beyond.

4. The numbers 720, 1080 refer to the number of lines of video in a given area. Obviously the higher the number of lines, the smoother the display. The suffixes are: "P" (for "Progressive Scan") and "I" (for "Interlaced"). "P" pictures look better when there's a lot of motion in the video. "P" pictures look better when used with computers.

6. The Twins will produce for the scoreboard in 1080 HDTV; that 1080 signal can be changed to other resolutions.

Hope that helps clarify the situtation with broadcast cabling.

Win Twins!!!!

Dave St. Peter

Posted on April 1, 2008 at 5:24 PM by DSP Highlight this comment 7

I love that Dave St. Peter replied to your April Fools post and that he reads this awesome site.

If you're listening Dave, please have HoK/HGA move the upper decks a little closer to the field. (If it's not too late)

Posted on April 1, 2008 at 5:50 PM by Lafferty Highlight this comment 8

What's more funny is that he fell for it just like many of us.

Yes Dave, since you're reading, is it too late to install REAL bleachers in the outfield??? What's the point of installing seats smaller than the dome in the outfield when they really SHOULD be benches anyway. Bleachers are very popular - in some cases the most popular - place to sit at a ballgame.

Posted on April 1, 2008 at 6:23 PM by kevin in az Highlight this comment 9

I echo Lafferty's comments about the upper deck along with the 12K plus fans that will sit there in 2010 and beyond. Please!

Posted on April 1, 2008 at 6:25 PM by J2K Highlight this comment 10

I'm a little skeptical about that actually being Dave St. Peter. I mean it's possible, but would DSP really spell the word the as "teh"? Would be cool if it was him though.

Posted on April 1, 2008 at 7:58 PM by ace Highlight this comment 11

yes, dsp, since lafferty brought up a good point about the upper deck and kevin in az had a great suggestion about bleachers, could you see if it'd be possible to move the park to the south side of downtown so we have a better view of the skyline? mmm-kay, thankz.

Posted on April 1, 2008 at 8:06 PM by yeahklye Highlight this comment 12

I just got home from the game and saw the "DSP" response. I'm laughing now. It made my day!

I mean, he couldn't really have thought I was... Nah, he's just playing.


Posted on April 2, 2008 at 12:16 AM by Rick 13

this topic for tests cars

Posted on July 27, 2008 at 05:20 AM by peellagma Highlight this comment 14

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Posted on July 31, 2008 at 8:14 PM by fpyhwo yrqvj Highlight this comment 15


Posted on February 1, 2011 at 5:30 PM by BULLDOG Highlight this comment 16

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