Feature Article - March 2007
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Grand-Slam Scoreboards

Entertainment & timing technology come together

By Brian Summerfield

If you've ever attended a Chicago Cubs baseball game at Wrigley Field, you understand just how much a scoreboard can contribute to the overall atmosphere of an event. The ballpark, which was constructed in 1914, features a scoreboard strategically placed above the outfield bleachers where the rowdiest fans sit. Like Wrigley Field itself, the scoreboard at the "Friendly Confines" is a sort of hallowed relic to the Cubs faithful. Every run and pitching statistic displayed on the scoreboard is put up there by hand, thanks to ballpark personnel who actually sit inside of it. Also, Old Glory—as well as flags representing every team in the National League—waves in the wind above it. All of this creates a very deliberate back-in-time effect.

You don't have to look far beyond Wrigley Field to find other examples of how scoreboards cultivate and enhance the overall feel of a particular setting. In fact, across town at U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago White Sox fans also relish in their scoreboard, which is modern yet traditional. On one hand, it has large, high-tech video displays, and also includes many more prominent advertisements for corporate sponsors than the Wrigley Field scoreboard. However, it also features a row of colorful pinwheels that carried over from "Old" Comiskey Park across the street. Whenever the White Sox get a run, the sky above those pinwheels lights up with fireworks, which brings the crowd's attention back to—you guessed it—the scoreboard.

The point is that a scoreboard can and should be an integral part of any experience in any entertainment or athletics venue. It should reflect and blend in with its surroundings, but still be eye-catching. After all, everyone will see it, and there are some people in the audience who will spend more time looking at the scoreboard than anything else at the event. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the key issues and considerations involved with acquiring, installing and maintaining a scoreboard.