Apr 29, 2009

The 10 worst national anthem performances of all time

Time Magazine counts down the 10 worst national anthem performances of all time. Most of them are from pro sports.
Also from Time: Top 10 worst first pitches

Apr 28, 2009

Producing in-house video for the NFL draft

Here's an article about Big Screen Network - a company that produces video scoreboard shows for events like the Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four, Olympics, and the NFL Draft:
When the NFL Draft takes place today and Sunday in New York's Radio City Music Hall, the Triangle will be prominently represented even if no one from area schools gets selected.

The Big Screen Network, with headquarters in Los Angeles and Raleigh, will be in the building, just as it is for dozens of major sporting and entertainment events.

Most fans probably don't recognize the name. But if those fans have attended Super Bowl games, NCAA Final Fours and Olympic competition in recent years, they've seen and heard the Big Screen team at work. The company is an industry leader in the production of in-house video, scoreboard and information services.

The company was founded by Paul Kalil, a Los Angeles resident and a pioneer in the video board business. His first project was as scoreboard operations director for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the early 1980s. In the years since, Kalil has expanded Big Screen's reach throughout all areas of athletic and concert presentations. Through last season, Big Screen had produced 17 Super Bowl scoreboard shows for the NFL.

Becker, a 37-year-old Philadelphia native, became head of the Raleigh branch about five years ago. He'll direct the BSN team for this weekend's draft. It's a complicated undertaking that requires hundreds of hours of preparation.


Shortly after the draft ends, Becker will start getting ready for the next project. In addition to its work for the NFL and the Olympics, Big Screen produces video shows for 88 NCAA Division I, II and III national championship competitions. That list includes events as varied as the College World Series, the Frozen Four and the men's and women's Final Fours.

"One thing about it, this kind of job never gets dull," Becker said.

Read the entire article from The News & Observer...

Apr 27, 2009

Chicago Blackhawks Goal Song: Chelsea Dagger

The Chicago Blackhawks goal song this year is "Chelsea Dagger" by The Fratellis. The Chicago Daily Herald has the scoop:

"We were searching high and low for a goal song," Tom O'Grady said. "It was a little quirky, and it was certainly contagious. I really respect Blackhawks fans, and I wanted something uplifting that could be pretty organic once it got going."

It wasn't an immediate hit, however

"The first few games we were getting some pretty bad responses - we were like, 'We might not make it,'" O'Grady said with a smile. "(Hawks president) John McDonough has a great vision; he said, 'Let it roll for a while.'

"Now it's pretty contagious and people really like it and it's become our goal song - more by patience than design."

Apr 26, 2009

NHL Playoff Pre-Game Shows: Western Conference

Yesterday we did a round up of all the NHL Eastern Conference pre-game shows, and now here's what the West has to offer. The Western teams have a much stronger line-up.
  • San Jose: Flag kids come out to Sandstorm ... then there's a highlight video to Audioslave's "Cochise" ... Then the shark head drops.

  • Anaheim: Hey, both the bird teams are using Metallica. The Ducks go with "Nothing Else Matters". Can't tell what the video looks like, but the Ducks have the best cyberlight show in the NHL, hands down. Watch on YouTube.

  • Vancouver: The most original video of the playoffs, showing Canucks players as kids. "Every kid ... who ever had ... a hockey stick ... dreamed ... of one thing ... to score the goal to win ... THE STANLEY CUP ... and a very few ... will get their chance ... to live that dream." Plus bonus vintage photo of Roger Neilson waving a white towel. Watch.

  • St. Louis: Charles Glenn is live on ice singing "When The Blues Go Marching In" This is perfect for St. Louis, they are probably the only NHL team who can pull something like this off. Watch on YouTube.

  • Calgary: Good idea using player quotes at the start - but will anyone hear 'em? Calgary fans are so loud... Music is Rev Theory "Hell Yeah". Watch.

  • Chicago: My favourite music of all the pre-game videos, it's "Testify" by Rage Against The Machine. Watch.

  • Detroit: Red Wings use "Ready To Roll" by Jet Black Stare. A ton of extra lights up on the trusses. I guess the Stanley Cup Champions can afford some extra effects. Watch on YouTube. Alternate link.

  • Columbus: Here's a YouTube video - but I can't tell what the music is.

Who's got the best open? San Jose's shark head? Anaheim's cyberlight show? Chicago's use of Nine Inch Nails? St. Louis with their live singing show? Actually it's not a hard choice - Vancouver wins for best open of the West (and East), with their goosebump-inducing tribute to the quest for the Stanley Cup.

One final note: We've been using Twitter to post real-time comments about NHL playoff music and videos. Check it out here.

Apr 25, 2009

NHL Playoff Pre-Game Shows: Eastern Conference

Here are some links & info about what all the Eastern Conference teams are doing for their playoff pre-game shows this year:
  • Boston: Yellow lights on the ice, and AC/DC's Thunderstruck pumping through the building. Here's a shaky clip from YouTube.

  • Montreal: No surprise, Montreal uses another U2 song. This time it's a montage of historical photos while "One" plays. Watch it on YouTube. Part-way through they switch to another cover of the song - not sure who's singing it. A bit dull IMHO.

  • New Jersey: Song choice is "Hysteria" by Muse. Nice choice, includes lyrics like "I want it now" and "dreaming I'm alive". Watch.

  • Carolina: Can't find anything - can anybody help?

  • Washington: Caps keep up their rock star theme with a "Rock The Red Tour" video, featuring "War" By the Sick Puppies. Watch.

  • New York Rangers: A playoff extension of their "I Am A Ranger" campaign. Check out the blue glowing thundersticks in the crowd. Watch on YouTube.

  • Pittsburgh: The song is from Metallica, "Broken, Beat & Scarred". A heavier tune than we would have expected from the Penguins but it does work - with key lyric What don't kill you make you more strong." Watch. Also check out this behind-the-scenes vid about the on-ice projection.

  • Philadelphia: Aggressive as always, their song is "Hunt You Down" by Saliva. Watch it ... then read more about it here.

Our faves: Nothing really stands out, the best are New Jersey and Philadelphia, but we'll give the nod to Philadelphia for song choice and use of retro Flyers footage.

the Western Conference.

Apr 24, 2009

How the Philadelphia Flyers rev up their fans

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Eric Godard of the Penguins and Riley Cote of the Philadelphia Flyers fought last night at Wachovia Center, even though neither was in the lineup.

OK, their scrap was part of a video of bouts between the teams -- another video has vintage fights -- shown on the big scoreboard screen above the ice during Games 3 and 4 of the clubs' first-round National Hockey League playoff series.

It was one of the ways the Flyers whipped their sellout crowds into a frenzy for the games Sunday afternoon and last night.


In addition to the vintage fight video, the club's opening montage features the phrases "Stomp you into the ground" and "Hunt you down." A message on the video board proclaims they are the most intimidating fans in the league, a title bestowed by The Sporting News last year.


When the Penguins' starters are announced, each name is followed by a loud obscenity. That word also is part of a chant -- often accompanied by the arena organist -- directed at the Penguins and, especially, their star captain, Sidney Crosby.


Before last night's game, an ice-level announcer egged on the crowd to let Talbot know the Flyers' supporters didn't like comments Talbot made Monday saying he didn't think the fans made the Flyers a better team.

Read the entire article...
And here's the video that was referenced in the article, featuring the song "Hunt You Down" by Saliva.

Apr 23, 2009

Animals in sports: Hawk & dog delay games

Two animal stories came across our desk today:
  1. In Atlanta, a Hawks basketball game was delayed by their mascot -- a real, live hawk: "Spirit, the Hawks mascot, has a set pattern of flight whenever he is allowed to go out on his own. But the mascot deviated from the schedule and flew a bit through the stands, landing on a shot clock camera. The game had to be stopped early in the first quarter so that Spirit could be coaxed down." (source: Associated Content)

  2. In Greensboro, Yogi the dog was ejected from a baseball game after, um, soiling the field. Read more from Ben's Biz Blog...

Apr 21, 2009

Promotions round-up #264

  • Giants Hit Home Run With Ethnic Marketing
    Darren Rovell reports on the San Francisco Giants efforts to market to the Filipino community. "
    The Giants are attributing about 10,000 additional fans to the promotional cultural night tonight as they honor Filipino boxer Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao, who will be throwing out the first pitch before the game."

  • German football team offers refund for poor play
    BBC News reports: "A German football club will refund the tickets of 600 fans in an unusual apology for a "pitiful performance" that ended in a 4-0 loss at Schalke."

  • Brooklyn Cyclones host "bellies and baseball"
    Ben's Biz Blog highlights another creative promotion from the Cyclones: "Brooklyn Cyclones are hosting Bellies and Baseball: A Salute to Pregnancy, and inviting expectant parents to participate in a variety of themed activities...including a special prize for anyone who gives birth at the game."

  • Washington Capitals hold a beard-a-thon
    Kukla's Korner has the details about this promotion, designed as a fundraiser to tie in with the playoffs. A few other NHL teams are running similar promos this spring.

  • Huntsville Stars host Househusbands Night
    Ben's Biz Blog (again) has the lowdown on this one: "Men who bring their "Honey Do" list of chores to the game will receive a half-price ticket, and these emasculating missives will be read over the PA. Whoever submits the best "Honey Do" list receives an excellent prize -- Stars' staff will do the chores instead."

Apr 18, 2009

All about writing an arena anthem (and Zombie Nation)

Ben Raynor in the Toronto Star writes about "Kernkraft 400" by Zombie Nation:

The booming tune's belated rise has come as a bit of a shock to its creator, a Munich electronic musician named Florian Senfter who's released four albums of generally rather more subtle tech-house and electro under the Zombie Nation moniker...

"Kernkraft 400" first attained renown overseas when the crowd-stoking "Sports Chant Remix" was heard at European soccer games and trickled into the background during last year's Olympic coverage, which is probably where it tickled the ears of folks who program music for sports events on these shores.

He also offers some insight into what it takes to write a successful arena sports anthem:

  • Aim low: A hockey rink during the third period in the playoffs is no place to get arty. It is, in fact, exactly the place where the lowest of the low – "novelty" one-hit wonders – live on in infamy: the Baha Men's "Who Let the Dogs Out?" Rednex's "Cotton Eye Joe," the Vengaboys' "We Like to Party," Los Del Mar's "Macarena," the entire Jive Bunny catalogue... [this stuff is] so simple and maddeningly catchy that everyone from 4-year-olds to grandmothers get it right away and recognize it.

  • When in doubt, add crowd noise: Zombie Nation's "Sports Chant Remix" of "Kernkraft 400" found its way into soccer stadiums when it added the sound of a stadium crowd yelling in unison to a galvanizing dance track. Sporting events thrive on mob mentality, so any music that encourages the mob in that direction with a few cues to "Join in the Chant," as Nitzer Ebb once put it (in a tune that should, come to think of it, get played in more arenas) is usually an instant hit.

  • Get your "gay" on: Pro sports have done more to keep the vibe of late-'80s/early-'90s gay club culture – gutsy diva vocals, throbbing house beats – alive than a thousand Pride Parades combined. C&C Music Factory's "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)," Snap!'s "The Power," Black Box's "Everybody Everybody," seemingly everything 2 Unlimited ever put to tape and the like are guaranteed to be heard whenever there's male bonding to be done at the big game.

  • Mention movement: Once again, you've gotta cultivate that tendency to mob mentality. Peruse the track listing of any entry in ESPN's big-selling Jock Jams compilation series and you'll always find at least a couple of tunes most explicit in their instructions: Brooklyn Bounce's "Get Ready to Bounce," House of Pain's "Jump Around," Reel 2 Reel's "I Like to Move It."

Apr 15, 2009

How many people does it take to change the light in a video scoreboard?

Last week we told you about the installation of the massive video scoreboard at the new Dallas Cowboys stadium. Ever wondered how they change the bulbs in a video scoreboard?

This article from Star-Telegram.com has the answer:
How long does it take to change a light bulb on the Cowboys stadium scoreboards?
Technically, there are no light bulbs on the scoreboards, but there are light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, that sometimes go dark. Workers can access the back of each scoreboard from an interior catwalk on the metal frame.

Each panel is made up of smaller LED "bricks," and each brick can be removed in less than 15 minutes, Mitsubishi’s Mark Foster said. Those bricks can then be returned to Mitsubishi’s Pennsylvania factory to be repaired. (Read the original article.)

Apr 14, 2009

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper does the wave

Macleans has photo evidence of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper doing the wave at the World Men’s Curling Championships in Moncton, New Brunswick. Who knew watching curling could be so much fun? (Thanks CC)

5,000-calorie stadium burger is a hot seller

Last week, we pointed you to an article about the Fifth Third burger, a $20, 5,000 calorie burger served up by the West Michigan Whitecaps. Apparantly it was a big hit on opening night. Darren Rovell reports:
We just got the numbers in from the team and, despite a health warning and the price tag ($20), the team sold 107 of them. Of the people that bought the burgers, 32 people attempted to eat the whole burger -- complete with meat, cheese, fritos, chili, sour cream and more -- during the game. We're told that 17 were successful.

Apr 9, 2009

Counting calories at Yankee Stadium

From the Partnership Activation blog, here's some info about new food and calorie counts on menus at Yankee Stadium. The stadium, like most other places that sell prepared food in New York, has to post calorie counts on all of their menu signage.

When Yankees fans head to the new Yankee Stadium for the first time in 2010 they will notice a variety of changes at the concessions stands. In addition to the standard ballpark fare (hot dogs, peanuts, popcorn, etc.) the Yankees organization will now sell a variety of new offerings at its 137 concession stands, including:

  • Cuban Sandwiches (sold at the Latin Corner)
  • Nachos and Burritos
  • Noodle Bowls
  • Sushi and Salads
  • Barbeque

But one of the biggest changes that fans will notice is that concessions stands around the new Yankee Stadium will post information detailing the amount of calories that are in the food available for sale. With consumers thinking more consciously about their health and eating, and exercising habits, industry personnel can expect to see more teams follow in suit with similar calorie insights at the concessions stand.

Read on, with photos...

Reading Phillies host "Gluttony Night"

Ben's Biz Blog reports on Gluttony Night:
"All-You-Can-Eat-Nights" have become commonplace around the Minor Leagues in recent years, and one could certainly argue that these promotions are gluttonous in their own right. But "All-You-Can-Eat-Nights" are usually limited to a special section of the ballpark, and often involve a restricted menu.

"Gluttony Night" is something else entirely. Tell 'em, press release:

For just $12.00 fans can eat as much as they want from the time the gates open at 5:30 PM until the 7th Inning Stretch. Hot dogs, French fries, pizza, funnel cake, ice cream and fountain drinks are all included in a Gluttony Night ticket.

"Who knows if we'll ever be able to do this again," a somewhat nervous Scott Hunsicker, R-Phils General Manager, said. "I'm trying to encourage my family and friends to attend this game. Just in case I get fired over this promotion, I don't want them to miss my last game."

While fans are not limited to how much they can eat, a key provision is this: one item at a time, per person. This will both keep the lines moving and insure against those whose eyes are bigger than their stomachs.

"One person cannot get in line and ask for 100 hot dogs, but they can get in line as much as they want, and eat as much as they want," said Hackash.

When it comes to documenting the history of their 42-year-old franchise, the R-Phils front office staff is nothing if not thorough. The current record for hot dogs consumed in one game is 4,278, but that number could very well be eclipsed on "Gluttony Night."

Read the entire article...

Apr 8, 2009

All about the "Beer Man"

Brian Gainor has an informative and entertaining look at "The Beer Man". A couple of interesting findings from his research:
  • Wally the Beer Man is a local legend in the Minneapolis-St. Paul vicinity; famous you might say. Wally has his own baseball cards and has been a focal point of national media coverage on multiple occasions...Wally has been selling beer at almost every beer-friendly sporting event in the Twin Cities since 1970.

  • Japanese beer men strap a keg onto their backs (with a portable cup dispenser) to serve fans at local baseball games. The Japanese also offer "beer women" that roam the stands and serve beers to fans in attendance... Even these women carry a keg on their back to serve fans!
Check out the post, complete with videos.

Who has the cheapest beer in baseball?

Darren Rovell reports on Sports Biz that the Pittsburgh Pirates have the cheapest beer in MLB.
...that great honor goes to the Pittsburgh Pirates, who not only have the second-lowest average ticket price in the league ($15.39), but also have the lowest beer price.

This season, the Pirates will be charging $4.75 for a 21-ounce beer, according to Team Marketing Report. That means they are doing it for a cent per ounce cheaper than the Phillies did it last year.

The most expensive brew goes to the Boston Red Sox, who are charging $7.25 for a 12-ounce cold one. That's 60 cents an ounce. I don't think that's Sam Adams either.

Read the full article...

Apr 7, 2009

Construction begins on the Dallas Cowboys video scoreboard

Back in August we told you about the video scoreboard that the Dallas Cowboys were planning to install in their new stadium. It's HUGE, no doubt about it. Now, the massive task of building and hanging the scoreboard has begun. Here's part of an article from Star-Telegram.com:
"It cost $40 million to build Texas Stadium," the Cowboys’ 42-year-old former home in Irving, said Stephen Jones, Dallas Cowboys executive vice president.

At the new Arlington stadium, "the scoreboards alone cost more than $40 million," Jones told an audience at the University of Texas at Arlington’s Business Week dinner last month.

Crews finished assembling the two sideline scoreboards and two smaller scoreboards facing the end zones in March. Last week, they began "lighting" the boards, a process of calibrating the millions of LEDs so the pictures on the video screens appear seamless.

"In order to have that large of a display and not look like a checkerboard . . . we have to work very hard to match those LEDs across the board with the same color and properties," said Mark Foster, general manager of Mitsubishi Electric’s Diamond Vision Systems.


Foster said that when installation is completed, Mitsubishi will apply to Guinness World Records to have the stadium scoreboard officially named the largest in the world. Mitsubishi already holds that title with its 218-foot-wide, 37-foot-tall (8,066 square feet) video screen at Tokyo Race Course in Japan.


Mitsubishi made the LED panels in its factory in Nagasaki, Japan, and the electronic ribbon boards that encircle the stadium interior at its plant in Warrendale, Pa.

The panels, each 4-feet-by-5-feet, were shipped to the stadium and then hoisted up, one by one, onto a large metal frame that was built on the field and then lifted 90 feet into the air. Large orange sandbags were placed on the metal frame to mimic the weight of the screens, and as panels were installed, sandbags were removed from the frame.

Foster said that installing the panels while suspended in midair enabled technicians to keep seams from appearing in the large screen. Each panel is separated by only 10 millimeters.

Read the entire article...

All about the new Cincinnati Reds video scoreboard

Cincinnati.com has an article all about the newly-upgraded video scoreboard at the Great American Ball Park, home of the Cincinnati Reds. Some highlights:

  • "It’s 138 feet wide, 39 feet high and puts the Reds in the realm with the Atlanta Braves, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Kansas City Royals’ stadiums."

  • "The Reds spent about $10 million and 18 months to bring the scoreboard and other technology upgrades to the ballpark, including new HDTVs in the luxury suites, [Jennifer Berger, Senior Director of Entertainment, Events and Production] said."

  • "The team expects to save money in the long run, because the new LED scoreboard displays use about one-quarter of the energy that the former scoreboards used."

  • The scoreboards were designed and installed by Daktronics. A crew of 25 people will operate the scoreboards on gameday.

  • Returning crowd cams, including the Chicken Dance Cam, the Kiss Cam, the Limbo Cam and the Rock Band Cam – only now, fans will see four-story, high-definition versions of themselves. The Flex Cam has a new sponsor and a new name: The Certified Angus Beef Beefcake Cam.

  • Read the entire article...

Apr 6, 2009

The Onion reports on half-time contests

From The Onion:

Getting Randomly Picked To Make Half-Court Shots Now Best Way To Earn Living
WASHINGTON—A new study released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Tuesday confirmed that the most dependable source of income for American workers in the current economic climate is to win a novelty contest in which one must successfully shoot a basketball from half-court.

"After factoring in the odds of your ticket number being called while attending a game, the median dollar value awarded, and the athletic ability of the average American citizen, and cross-referencing these data with employment forecasts and current job-security indices, we have determined that half-court shooting contests are currently the most effective way to support a family of four," the report read in part.

"While this may seem like dire news, keep in mind that the consolation prize for missing the shot usually includes a food item from the concession stand." The report cited several other possible methods of securing a livelihood, including 50-50 raffles, lotto scratch-offs, and inventing YouTube.

All about John Mason, the PA announcer for the Detroit Pistons

This is from a few years back, but worth reading. It's about "Mason", one of the most popular PA Announcers in the NBA. If you've never heard Mason's announcing before, check out this video of the Detroit Pistons introductions. (Or this video of kids doing their best Mason impression.)
“Deee-troit, bas-ket-ball.”

It doesn't really come across in writing, but if you've been to the Palace recently, you know what I'm talking about.

And the man behind those words is Pistons P.A. announcer John Mason. From his designated spot at the center of the courtside press table, Mason has perhaps the best seat to catch all the action.

Mason shares his thoughts on his dream job, the Palace crowd and some of the greatest moments he's witnessed, as well as a couple of memorable mistakes from his early days on the mic.

Read the entire article from NBA.com...

Apr 5, 2009

VIDEO: Super Mario Williams

Here's a fun vid from the Houston Texans, created for "Super Mario" Williams:

(via Partnership Activation)

Great moments in stadium signage: The giant plunger

"The Penning Plunger is the newest feature at Fifth Third Ballpark in 2009! Watch the plunger go as the Whitecaps flush away the competition." (As seen on Ben's Biz Blog.)