Dec 25, 2009

Hip Hop Santa

One of our little Christmas traditions at Scotiabank Place is to play this vid at the games leading up to Christmas.

Nov 22, 2009

Predators use Jib Jab to create a Halloween video

Brian Gainor points us towards a fun scoreboard video the Nashville Predators created using Jib Jab: "The Nashville Predators recently celebrated their Halloween matchup against the Dallas Stars by featuring a creative JibJab vignette on the jumbotron during the game. The clip centered around a Monster Mash thematic with the faces of Predator players incorporated into the mix."

Nov 11, 2009

Johnny Bower reads "In Flanders Fields"

The Toronto Maple Leafs put on a nice pre-game show on November 10, the eve of Remembrance Day in Canada. The high point was Johnny Bower reading "In Flanders Fields". Here's the vid from Leafs TV On Demand:

..and here's more from the Leafs pre-game ceremony.

We did a special ceremony in Ottawa too, featuring Ted Hibberd, one of the members of the 1948 RCAF Flyers team that won a gold medal at the 1948 Olympics. He got a standing ovation from the crowd and was clearly moved by the crowd response. Here's the vid from Sens TV:

Oct 31, 2009

Atlanta Hawks Halloween half-time show

Mascot & dance team dance to Thriller

A couple of Sens Halloween videos

Here are a couple of vids we produced for the video scoreboard, for today's game between Ottawa and Atlanta. Thanks to our editors/animators Jeremy & Dave for their work on these pieces.

VIDEO: Chicago Blackhawks - Halloween masks

Here's a brilliant video scoreboard piece from the Chicago Blackhawks from Halloween 2008.

Oct 21, 2009

All about the "Miracle Kid"

Puck Daddy has a great article about Josh Sacco, the 4-year-old who recreated the locker room speech from "Miracle", and created a bit of a YouTube sensation. Over 1.5 million people have watched the vid. We showed it on the video scoreboard at a recent Sens game too. Here it is:

Check out what the Nashville Predators did:

Montreal Canadiens players introduce themselves

Check out this video from opening night this year for the Montreal Canadiens. In particular, shuffle ahead to after the 4 minute mark, when the players introduce themselves.

It's a creative take on player intros, and I'm sure other teams will imitate it. It might not work for every team - but for the Canadiens, "je suis..." is perfect.

Oct 4, 2009

Edmonton Oilers opening night: bagpipes and acrobats

The Edmonton Oilers had a very unique pre-game show for their home opener this year, with a circus-like show featuring a huge bagpipe band and two acrobats performing tricks while suspended from the ceiling. The show's been taking a lot of flack on message boards -- but I think it was pretty original and from the loud applause it sounds like the fans at Rexall Place really enjoyed it. Here's the full show -- all 28 minutes -- from Oilers On Demand. (Make sure you watch the great intro video at about 13:50.)

(Thanks to CC for the tip.)

Oct 2, 2009

Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup Banner pre-game ceremony

The Penguins dropped four 60-foot scrims from the ceiling, creating four huge screens surrounding their video scoreboard. (An effect we saw a couple years back in LA during the NBA finals.) Check out the effect and video, narrated by Dennis Miller. Congrats to the crew in Pittsburgh for a great show.

Oct 1, 2009

Leafs crowd sings the anthem a capella

No anthem singer tonight in Toronto for the season opener vs. Montreal. The fans sang the anthem - cool.

(saw this on Kukla's Korner)

UAF Nanook Hockey Open 07-08 "Highway to the Danger Zone"

This video is making the rounds today. Quite entertaining.

YouTube description says: "Hockey open w/ Polar Bear from Fairbanks, Alaska for the UAF Nanooks AKA "The Alaska Nanooks". This is the intended directors cut with the original music choice, rejected by the UAF people for being "too 80's" as if there is such a thing. Visual effects by Mike Martinez with help from Chris LeDoux of R!OT fame (on the moon explosion). Narrated by Brad F. Douglas. Written, Produced, and Directed by Mike Martinez."

Sep 22, 2009

When video scoreboard replays go bad

Here's some advance reading for my Sports Business students who are already checking out my blog. This topic always generates lots of discussion.

Background - in September the video scoreboard operators at Bronco Stadium in Boise showed a replay of Oregon running back LeGarette Blount punching Boise State's Byron Hout over and over and over.

I just remembered. High in the stands after the game, we were unable to get out of the stadium quickly. So, we were entertained by the video scoreboard. Which showed the punch over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over. To do what incite a riot? They didn't show the cheap verbal comment. They just showed the punch. In slow motion I might add. So they edited it to make Blount look even worse. Over and over and over and over. And the Boise State fans grew angry. And they kept running it. And the Boise fans grew angrier. And what was a great environment in the stands, turned into screaming matches started by Boise fans. I saw them.

From the stands, you really couldn't see the Blount incident. 99% of the fans never saw it because there was so much going on right after the game.

So, someone tell the video operator it's not okay to show it 24 times in a row. Which is how many times I saw it before I stopped counting. What an idiot. Apparently I'm not the only one who noticed that. Which means, when we find out what Hout actually said, 'Can we broadcast that to their fans over two dozen times so their shamed? They should be. Or maybe the BSU fan who took a whack at Blount? Is that fair game to continuously show on a loop to them? And Oregon fans the next time any team from BSU shows up?

Read the entire article...

Doin' The Funky Feather

A fun story from the Midland Daily News about some interns who started a dance craze at Dow Diamond, home of the Great Lakes Loons:
Although there's always a certain amount of energy surging through the Dow Diamond when the players take the field, it is when the Great Lakes Loons score a run, and the song "Sandstorm" by Darude begins, that it is at its greatest.

That's because it's Funky Feather time.

The recently named Funky Feather is a dance -- no, more of a cheer, well, maybe a cross between a dance and a cheer -- in which sometimes 5,000 fans pump their fists alternately in the air to the "Sandstorm" beat in support of the Loons. If you missed a few games this summer, it sneaked up on you, although at least one man's version has been ongoing for more than a year.

"I don't know how it got started in the games," said Loons intern Steve Addington, who is given much of the credit for the Funky Feather version of the cheer, and for getting fans involved in what has become a phenomenon, resulting in videos, T-shirt sales and graphics on the jumbotron.

General Manager Paul Barbeau knows how it grew, however. When a group of the marketing interns, which included Addington, would be waiting at the tunnel entrances to go out into the field for some of the games or shows, they would begin to do the cheer when the Loons scored. Then, just before the All-Star break, a few fans around the group began doing it, and then a few more.

"They took advantage of an opportunity," Barbeau said. "A new tradition was started at the ballpark."

An amazed Addington said it was kind of an inside joke among the interns.

"When the Loons would score a run, we'd do it, but I don't know how it got to be 5,000 people were doing it," he said. "It spread like wildfire. It really caught on, the arms going up and down."

It's like the people were waiting for permission to party. Prior to the marketing students leading the charge, visitors to the diamond could see people squirming in their seats when the Loons would score, the "Sandstorm" music would start, and Tim Lamparski of Midland, a really energetic fan, would get up from his chair and pump his arms up and down while swaying to the fast-paced beat. It was a dance he practiced at home, he said, and one that earned him a spot on the big screen quite often at the games.

"I always liked being on TV," he said.

He welcomes the Funky Feather fans.

"It's good," he said.

Addington said the two things that count are: the Funky Feather "raises the spirit of the crowd. You can feel the energy flowing through it." And, it took teamwork -- from fellow interns Jake Boven, Stephen Lovasz, Kevin Schunk and Jane Rose to videographer Chris Lones to the people who thought of the T-shirts, and other Loons staff, to make it work.

He said being a part of the Loons, what he called a "winning team," was "a really good feeling. There is no other feeling like it."

Particularly when you are doing the Funky Feather.

Read the entire article...

And here's a YouTube clip. Looks like fun.

Aug 4, 2009

Cleaning out the inbox: game entertainment miscellany

Aug 2, 2009

On-ice video projection demo

Here's a demo reel from Westbury National, one of the companies that rents & installs the projectors that power the "full ice video" effect for a lot of NHL teams.

Jul 31, 2009

Why you should read Ben's Biz Blog

Do you read Ben's Biz Blog? You should, because if you don't you'll miss out on Ben's reports of some classic baseball promotions, including:

Jul 13, 2009

Thirty year anniversary of Disco Demolition Night

Disco Sucks! Disco Sucks!
July 12, 1979.
A twilight doubleheader at Comiskey Park.
The White Sox vs. The Tigers.
Between games, 24 year old Steve Dahl, popular disc jockey from Chicago White Station Route 98 would take the field at the head of his so-called Anti-Disco Army to blow up thousands of disco records.

What happened next is part of baseball history. Here's a video from ESPN looking back at the infamous night. (The actual moment of demolition is about halfway through.)

Interesting video, not just for the recap of Disco Demolition Night. Also videos and photos of Bill and Mike Veeck, and some of the other wacky promos at Comiskey in the 70's. I liked the shot of the old scoreboard, set up to politely read "PLEASE RETURN TO YOUR SEATS." And Bill Veeck and Harry Caray singing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" in a futile effort to calm things down.

Mike Veeck says at the end: "We did a promotion that caused a forfeiture. I regret that. As a cultural event, I'm kinda proud of it."

Here's more on the event Wikipedia...

Jun 10, 2009

New video scoreboards coming for Carolina and Dallas

Fans in Carolina and Dallas will have new video scoreboards to watch.

In Carolina, work is underway to replace the scoreboard at RBC Centre. The technical team has a blog with behind-the-scenes updates on the removal of the old scoreboard and installation of the new one. Lots of pics and videos, plus technical info too. Check it out: Canes Vision HD

Meanwhile at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, fans of the Stars and Mavericks will have a new scoreboard being marketed as the "First and only 1080 HD Video Scoreboards in the NBA or NHL, plus an audio upgrade to boot. I guess they felt they had to compete with that big scoreboard the Cowboys installed.

Jun 6, 2009

New Dallas Cowboys stadium opens tonight

Country star George Strait opens the new $1.15-billion Dallas Cowboys stadium tonight. Earlier this year we gave you a preview of the video scoreboard, and in the past month a few videos of the screen have been published online. The Dallas Morning News has a good review of the design and architecture of the new stadium, which describes the scoreboard as "the size of a house". (via The Sports Economist)

May 31, 2009

All about Detroit Red Wings music

Check out this article about the music played for the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, as well as a list of Detroit's player goal songs. The music is programmed & played by T. Campbell aka DJ T. Some highlights:
It wasn't always that way. In the pre-Campbell years, the team tried to pump up the crowd with old-fashioned organ-driven chants.

That all changed in the early 1990s when the Wings did away with the organ and brought in a DJ. The original DJ didn't work out, so in came Campbell. He had been the music-spinner for Michigan State games at Munn Ice Arena.

"They know I have a feel for the game because I've been playing hockey since I was 5 years old," said Campbell, who is 49 and whose three older brothers all played for the Spartans. He himself won two state championships as a prep player.

He continues to DJ at Spartan games and makes the 80-mile drive from his home in Okemos for every Wings home game - his license plate reads "HCKYTWN."

Campbell arrives 2 to 2 1/2 hours before each game. He wears a suit and stands for the entirety in his perch high above the ice. His booth is behind press row, and he shares it with the replay official.

Campbell wears a headset to communicate with the onsite event producers and is surrounded by black and silver machines that help pump his music to the masses. The tracks are listed alphabetically, so all he has to do is turn a dial, click and button and whoosh - the song heads into 20,000 sets of ears.

At Wednesday night's Western Conference championship clincher over Chicago, Campbell kicked off the pregame festivities by spinning Kid Rock's "Intro" chant, which goes: "It ain't no party like a Detroit party/'cause a Detroit party don't stop."

When the Wings made their way through the tunnel and stepped on to the ice, Campbell quickly queued up the thrash-metal rocker "Adrenaline" by 12 Stones.

But his musical selections aren't all rock tracks. He'll play anything from techno, dance or trance tunes to rap and classic rock. On Wednesday, he even played the soft Kiss ballad "Beth" in honor of a young lady who earned a Zamboni ride between the first and second periods.

May 28, 2009

Miami Heat unveil outdoor LED marquee

Sarah Talalay has a good article on The Business of Sports about a giant outdoor LED marquee that the Miami Heat have installed outside of American Airlines Arena. Here's an excerpt:
The Heat unveiled its MiamiMediaMesh LED marquee Wednesday night with great fanfare. The 3,400-square foot stainless steel mesh screen covers a dozen window panels on AmericanAirlines Arena’s west fa├žade – so it’s hard to miss.

I described it in today’s story as being like a curtain, but it’s really more like a screen since it’s attached to the arena. (See photos by the Heat's Omar Vega). But at just ¾ inch thick and 70 percent transparent, it doesn’t block your view from inside the arena, and you almost don’t know it’s there, if it’s not turned on.

When it is on – arena officials plan a 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. schedule – it’s the size of 320 50-inch plasma TVs blasting game and concert footage, sponsor advertising messages and even the public’s Twitter and email messages. Send Tweets to @MiamiMediaMesh or emails to for possible display.

Read the entire article or read the official press release

May 26, 2009

NHL National Anthems: The Final Four

This post is for my 3-year-old daughter, who stays up late each night so that she can watch the anthems. Her favourite is Jeff Jimmerson, with Katherine Fritsch a close second.

The final four national anthem singers in the 2009 playoffs -- 2 guys, 2 gals, 4 different styles, all great singers.

  1. Pittsburgh Penguins - Jeff Jimmerson
    First performance for the Pens was in December 1990. Has been a regular with the Pens since the mid 1990s. Performs in local band Airborne. Appeared in the film "Sudden Death", playing himself.
    Video: Youtube
    Article: Anthem singer fires up Mellon crowd (TribLIVE)
    Other: Jeff Jimmerson Fan Club via Facebook

  2. Carolina Hurricanes - Katherine Fritsch
    10 years old, in her second season with the Hurricanes. First sang with the 'Canes back in 2006-07. Took over from Holly Wilver, a former Hurricanes Storm Squad member. Discovered by 'Canes staff at the Jimmy V Junior Golf Classic. Wants to be a vet when she grows up.

    Video: Youtube
    Articles: NC Spin Online, Canes Country

  3. Detroit Red Wings - Karen Newman
    Has been singing with the Red Wings for over 15 years. Before that she was a multiple winner on Ed McMahon's Star Search, sang backup with Kid Rock and Bob Seger. Has released a few cd's, including a holiday album. Was once a hairstylist and has a twin sister, Kathy.

    Video: MySpace
    Articles: Wikipedia, Kukla's Korner
    Other: Karen on Facebook, Karen on Myspace

  4. Chicago Blackhawks - Jim Cornelison (singer) & Frank Pellico (organist)
    From "Chicago's anthem tradition began during the 1985 conference finals against Edmonton. After dropping the first two games of the series on the road, Hawks fans entered Chicago Stadium on May 9 fully energized and ready to help their team get back into the series. The crowd was so excited they cheered all the way through the National Anthem — and the tradition stuck."

    Jim Cornelison is a former professional opera singer, coaches basketball in his spare time, and is currently a real estate agent in Chicago with Rubloff Residential Properties. He's been a professional singer since 1993. Sung off-and-on with the Blackhawks since 1995. Has been the full-time singer for the Hawks since the start of the 2008-09 season.

    Pellico is 66 years old and has been playing the organ for the Blackhawks since 1991. He's also played for the Chicago Cubs. He plays a custom-designed Allen organ, installed in the United Centre to replicate the original Barton organ at Chicago Stadium. Cool link: Pellico & roller rinks.

    Articles: Jim Cornelison, Frank Pellico
    Video: Anthem, A night in the life of Jim, Frank Pellico, Blackhawks organist
    Also: Jim's YouTube channel (includes full bio + videos)

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 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
"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 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

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.)

Mar 31, 2009

1952: Conn Smythe tells players to stop chewing gum during the national anthem

Memo from Conn Smythe directing coaches to prohibit the chewing of gum
during the national anthem, December 3, 1952
Conn Smythe fonds
Reference Code: F 223-3-1-45
Archives of Ontario

Full text:
December 3, 1952

Mr. J. Primeau,
Mr. Stafford Smythe,
Father Faught,


There has been considerable criticism of the conduct of the individual players during the playing of the National ANthem.

It would be greatly appreciated if you would instruct your players to stand at attention, refrain from chewing gum and any other movements during this ceremony.

Yours very truly,

Conn Smythe,


Mar 30, 2009

Installing a new giant crown on top of the Royals scoreboard

Read all about the installation of a new giant crown on
The massive new Kansas City Royals crown — one of the signatures of the renovated Kauffman Stadium — was hoisted atop the scoreboard last week.

And then it came right back down.

The problem: It didn’t glitter enough.

Over the last couple days, work crews (right) have been installing new cladding, some shipped overnight from London, using special shingles. When the dark protective film comes off, the overall look will sparkle more, said Roger Reed of Zahner Architectural Metal.

Lots of photos here.

Mar 27, 2009

Pittsburgh sports music: Penguins, Steelers, Pirates

Here's a great article about the music played at three of Pittsburgh's major league sports teams: the Penguins, the Steelers and the Pirates. Highlights from the article:

The Pens skate out to the sound of crunchy, distorted guitars of contemporary hard rock reverberating off the ice. When the Steelers take the field, you're bound to hear classic rock. The Pirates' sound is cozy, comfortable, nostalgic — heavy on catchy, slightly-worn hits from the '80s and feel-good oldies like "Wooly Bully" and "Twist and Shout."


"The nature of our sport is aggressive -- we do our part to maintain that aggression with our music," says the Pittsburgh Penguins' game-night producer, Bill Wareham, 24. "Unlike football or baseball, most of our decisions are split-second. We don't have a designated offense or defense. ... We really try to feed off the crowd."

In practice, that often means playing AC/DC a lot, along with stylish, semi-hip pseudo-indie rock like The Strokes and Modest Mouse, and occasionally something hard and heavy, like metal titans Metallica or Dimmu Borgir.


"A general rule of thumb for us is, (with) a power play or anything in the attacking zone, we try to be more aggressive," Wareham says. "If we're backed up in the defensive zone, I'll try to play something more 'supportive,' or something like a call to arms for the fans -- like 'Right Now' by Van Halen -- and we'll put up on the board 'fans are our strength, and we need you Right Now.'

"We want to make them feel like a part of what we're trying to do, what the team is trying to do."

Some music you come to expect during a Pens game -- Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll, Part 2" whenever there's a goal. And, yes, the country-techno version of "Cotton-Eyed Joe," by the Swedish band Rednex, is pretty much unavoidable.

"It's everyone's guilty pleasure," Wareham says. "It's, like, the worst song ever, but I can tell you as soon as I play it, you can see you see, like, 90 percent of the building on their feet."

Wareham occasionally will throw in some old-school hip-hop like Run DMC, or some Top 40, country or classic rock.

"Classic rock's still huge here," he says. "We're not as Styx-heavy as the Steelers, but that's their thing and I'm happy for them. I wish we had something like that."

Yes, Styx and Steelers, for some reason, are a match made in black-and-gold heaven. The Steelers didn't plan to turn Styx's me-against-the-world anthem "Renegade" (1978) into their theme song. But you can't argue with success.

"One of our videographers put a piece together with that music in the background, and it was played at a critical point in the game when our defense was needed to stand up -- and it got the fans going," says Tony Quatrini, 56, director of marketing for the Steelers.

"Now, our fans are almost conditioned: When that video board goes black, that's the cue -- the towels start to wave and the fans are energized. Consequently, we're hoping it translates onto the field and inspires the players."

The Steelers even brought in Styx this year during the playoffs to do an a cappella version of "Renegade."

"The band loves it," Quatrini says. "They're Steeler fans to begin with, and have granted us the right to go ahead and do this without any reservations or royalties."

For the Pirates, there isn't a specific sound, but baseball has a lot of time to fill between innings. Aside from the player introductions -- where each player gets his own theme song -- the goal is to make everybody happy at least once.

"We always try to have one or two very contemporary songs -- something on the iTunes most-downloaded list, something in the Top 10," says Eric Wolff, 40, the Pirates' producer and director of in-game entertainment. "Then, one or two good rock songs from the '80s or '90s. One or two classic rock songs -- this is Pittsburgh; everyone loves the classic rock -- and one or two oldies.

"We try to cover all the bases -- no pun intended," he says.

The first few innings usually are scripted out, musically. Then, it's all about adjusting to the curveballs the game throws at you.

"Obviously, Friday nights are rowdier than a Tuesday night or a Sunday afternoon," Wolff says. "You always want to keep it upbeat, with your crowd-pumps, your 'We Will Rock You,' your 'Crazy Train.' When you're losing seven to nothing, you're still going to stay high-energy, but you don't want to force it down people's throats. You're going to have bad games, horrible-weather nights, and the crowd just isn't going to get rowdy in that situation."

For the Pirates, game night is like a finely tuned orchestra, suddenly forced to improvise. Wolff is responsible for a lot of moving parts.

Essentially, all the elements of entertainment are found within the ballpark -- the video board, scoreboard, music, mascot, PA system, organ.

"All that stuff," Wolff says. "About 25 people, all told, on headset and walkie-talkie communication."

The Penguins, on the other hand, keep it simple.

"The organist sits about three feet from me," Wareham says. "It's all really unscripted. He's on headsets with me. Sometimes, I'll look over and say, 'Timmy (Priano), let's give 'em a "Let's Go Pens" to get 'em going.'"

Read the entire article...

Mar 26, 2009

Academia: The Effect of Promotions on the Demand for Baseball

The Sports Economist blog points us to this academic paper on the effect of promotions. An interesting read - here's the abstract.
Does Bat Day Make Cents?: The Effect of Promotions on the Demand for Baseball
Mark McDonald, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

Daniel A. Rascher, University of San Francisco - Sport Management Program; SportsEconomics

Journal of Sport Management, Vol. 14, 2000

A primary objective of sport marketers in the professional sport setting is to develop strategies to increase game attendance. Historically, one of the strategies to accomplish this goal has been the utilization of special promotions. This paper studied the impact of promotions on attendance at professional sport games. Specifically, this research examines (1) the overall effect of promotions on attendance, and (2) the marginal impact on attendance of additional promotional days. Using a data set containing 1500 observations, we find that a promotion increases single game attendance by about 14%. Additionally, increasing the number of promotions has a negative effect on the marginal impact of each promotion. The loss from this watering down effect, however, is outweighed by the gain from having an extra promotion day.

Check out the new video scoreboard at Yankee Stadium

Check out Wired magazines article (and photos) about the video scoreboard and LED signage at the new Yankee Stadium. Some highlights from the article:
Taken by a local CBS affiliate in New York, the [first pictures of the new videoboard] show early tests of the 103-by-58-foot, 1080p HD Mitsubishi Diamond Vision LED display, which is six times larger than the screen at old Yankee Stadium. According to Mitsubishi, the display is embedded with 8,601,600 LED lamps (covering a total of 5,925 square feet), and can put up to four simultaneous images, with picture-in-picture capabilities.


So you'd think that with that enormous screen, umpires will be using it with the new replay system, right? Alas, no.

According to Major League Baseball, teams are forbidden from showing "a replay of any play that could incite either team or the fans." Judgment calls will continue being made by the umps, as they always have. It's possible that once a play has been decided, the scoreboard will show versions of disputed plays, but with a screen that size, any possible mistake by the umps could be compounded.

The giant screen is part of a big display tech development for the new Stadium, which also includes about 1,400 other video screens of all sizes, and about 550 of them are flat-panel Sony Bravias.

All displays will be managed by an IP-based network from Cisco Systems. Every one of those TVs will have a singular IP address that can be manipulated for specific MPEG-4 compressed video.

Expect the system to be used to sell ads within the stadium and to show awkward baseball-themed marriage proposals.

Last but not least, big-screen specialist Daktronics also built a video/scoring system that manages a 1,280-foot long color LED ribbon board mounted to the facade of the second deck and will be one of the longest continuous displays in sports. Just like the giant Times Square screen we featured months ago, the LED ribbon board is made out of hundreds of smaller LED 'cubes.' This one will show lineups and other team info and will occasionally show psychedelic light shows during the night (see pic above).

Mar 25, 2009

I'm getting hungry: Three articles about stadium food

  1. The Milwaukee Brewers introduce a $1 concession stand menu, offering hot dogs, soft drinks, popcorn, ice cream, and cookies -- all for a buck each. (via Partnership Activation)

  2. Ben's Biz Blog reports on the new $15 hamburger available to Michigan Whitecaps fans. It's 5/3 pounds of beef. (It's called the Fifth Third Burger, b/c the Whitecaps play at the Fifth Third ballpark. Get it?) See photo below.

  3. The Lakewood Blueclaws have a new "kids eat free" promotion at their concession stands. They had a similar program last year available on Monday nights only, but this season they'll extend the promo to every night of the year. Upon entering the ballpark, all kids get a voucher for a free hot dog, a bag of potato chips, and a 12 oz. fountain soda. (via Sports Marketing and PR Roundup)

Mar 23, 2009

Fun promos this season from the Charleston RiverDogs

Ben's Biz Blog highlights some very interesting promotions planned this season for the Charleston RiverDogs, including:

  • Salute to Cooterfest (April 15)
  • Salute to the G-String (June 11)
  • Here's To You Mr. Competitive Adult Softball Player Night (June 18)Nancy Appreciation Night (June 30)
Read more, including descriptions...

Statistics, attendance, marketing and the Cleveland Indians


Using statistical analysis of ticket purchases to understand the preferences and price limits of their fans, the [Cleveland] Indians learned that fireworks after a game draw an additional 4,000 fans; every one-degree temperature drop below 70 Fahrenheit costs them 300; and when the New York Yankees come to town, attendance jumps 11,000.

The Major League Baseball club is at the forefront of using statistical analysis to design pricing. The team says its plan will increase ticket revenue 5 percent this season...

“The goal was to do a better job figuring out what people were willing to pay for their product,” said Vince Gennaro, 57, a Purchase, New York-based consultant who managed the research project. “Where could we add value to convince them to make the purchase or decrease the price where demand is lower?”


Gennaro, author of “Diamond Dollar$: The Economics of Winning in Baseball,” analyzed three years of Indians sales data. He correlated factors like attendance, no-shows and walk-up sales with weather, promotions, the team’s record and the school calendar to determine what isolated events contributed to purchases.

He then asked more than 200 people in focus groups to rate their preferences. Would they rather watch the Indians play the Kansas City Royals during the warm days of July or the Boston Red Sox on cold, windy day in April? Would a bobblehead-doll promotion matter?

Lastly, the team researched the secondary ticket market to see which games drew more than face value.


The Indians’ research revealed that when children are on summer break, attendance increases 1,200; if rain is in the forecast, it falls 2,200; a bobblehead-doll giveaway brings in 4,700 people; and any promotion involving centerfielder Grady Sizemore, an All-Star three of his five seasons, increases attendance by 6,600.


The Indians came up with a four-tiered ticket plan that lowered prices to fill empty seats and increased prices when demand was high.

Promotions, like giveaways and fireworks, and season-ticket campaigns were then designed to increase what fans in each of the pricing plans were demanding most.

The biggest discounts are during weekday games in April and May, when the weather can get cold and rainy, children are in school and other sports are still in season. Ticket prices for seats in the park’s lower bowl were cut by as much as 50 percent.

Read the entire article...


Mar 20, 2009

National Anthems in sports - patriotism on display

Two videos that are good examples of patriotism on display during the singing of the National Anthem in sports.

First, from the Chicago Blackhawks, at the 1991 NHL All-Star game. Fans show their support for troops in the Gulf War:

Second, from the Edmonton Oilers during their 2006 playoff run. The fans belt out the anthem - no singer, just fans:

Mar 19, 2009

The future of in-arena interaction

From, here's an article called "Hi, tech: Gadgets are being introduced that will bring the games even closer". Highlights:
Imagine a face-to-face chat with Tom Brady, David Ortiz, Kevin Garnett, or Zdeno Chara hours before game time. Standing in front of high-definition displays in a local arena concourse, you make eye contact with your sports hero via Cisco TelePresence technology. It is the latest in video conferencing; you talk league gossip and lineup changes, knee injuries, and new players


High-tech entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban predicts a super-sized future for NBA arenas where "it won't be unique to see a [video] screen that stretches the 94-foot length of the court." He also envisions "digital delivery of sound that can be customized by area.


But more than anything, fans want a say in the experience. Chanting, clapping, and singing on cue aren't enough.

TelePresence at recent NBA and NHL All-Star festivities gave fans direct access to athletes. It was a World's Fair-style look at the future innovations provided by high-tech leader Cisco. Ticket upgrades via airport-style kiosks soon could be commonplace. The same could be true for replays by request on cellphones. Concession stand menus will appear on cellphones, too, allowing fans to order food from their seats and get it delivered.


Cisco wired the new Yankee Stadium and new Cowboys Stadium, giving the host teams interactive showplaces for the next generation of fan experience. The infrastructure is in place at TD Banknorth Garden, which is close to partnering with Cisco, though Garden president John Wentzell said, "We have not signed a contract yet."

Garden executives would like Cisco's StadiumVision installed when the 2009-10 NHL season starts. The video display application would network the arena's 600 high-definition monitors, clearing the way for easily customized signage. Walking through concourses after the fourth quarter, Celtics fans might see arrows pointing to the nearest exits and real-time traffic updates for Storrow Drive. That is Phase One.


"We have to be careful that working on your handheld device, sending text messages to the video screen, connecting to other areas around doesn't detract, and distract fans, from what's happening on the court," said NBA commissioner David Stern. "Now, there's looking at the video board and looking at the court. When you start looking at your cellphone, we may have a sensory overload issue with our fans."


Ricci foresees fans exchanging cellphone video of key plays from different seats and chatting in real-time with friends at the game and at home. Cisco technology already can offer all that, essentially allowing every fan to create an individualized, multi-media view of the game.

But what does this mean for the communal game experience? Will the days of Red Sox fans singing "Sweet Caroline" at Fenway Park soon end? Will Gino dance alone because Celtics fans are too busy checking statistics on cellphones?

Not necessarily. As a faithful member of Red Sox Nation raised in the Boston-area and living in California, Ricci cites his favorite baseball team as proof technology will enhance the communal fan experience. Using the Internet, he watches Red Sox games when he wants and catches up on team news. At a game last summer, his 15-year-old daughter snapped pictures of Jacoby Ellsbury, then posted them on her MySpace page.


At their home opener April 16, the Yankees officially will unveil what Cisco calls the most technologically advanced stadium in North America. At the new Yankee Stadium, there are 1,100 high-definition video monitors programmable with everything from replays to subway routes. Fans will find the monitors in luxury suites, concession stands, restaurants, and restrooms. Standing 59 feet high and 101 feet wide, the high-definition main scoreboard will be the top video attraction.


While the Yankees still made a splash with announcements about the futuristic features at the new stadium, they actually will be the second major league team to introduce fans to Cisco StadiumVision during the upcoming regular season. The Royals, who invested $250 million into renovating Kaufmann Stadium and added many of the same high-tech innovations, will be the first by six days.


Multi-purpose arenas may benefit most. "Dolphins Stadium can morph to suit whatever tenant, whatever event," said Dolphins Enterprises vice president of marketing partnerships Chris Overholt. By reprogramming high-definition displays to reflect different home teams, Dolphins Stadium in Miami easily switches from hosting NFL games to MLB games to NCAA football games.


At Gillette Stadium, winter weather and NFL rules regarding content distribution factor heavily into discussions of high-tech additions. Technology helps entertain Patriots fans, but they also are served by a practical application, increasingly popular in other sports venues.

"We've installed a special number to text message security problems, cameras will be turned onto that location and people will come," said Patriots president Jonathan Kraft. "That's not entertainment, but it's ensuring you have as good an experience as you can."

Read the entire article...

Mar 18, 2009

L.A. Kings anthem singer Gloria Loring: "She was worth a goal"

Here's a fun story from Don Cherry's excellent new book, "Don Cherry's Hockey Stories and Stuff", about Gloria Loring, the anthem singer for the L.A Kings (late 1970's? early 1980's?).
We go into LA and in those days, everybody knew Gloria Loring. She was married to Alan Thicke.

She sang the anthems before the games, but she would not sing until the crowd went nuts. She’d stand there while they got all worked up. They loved her. She was worth a goal, she really was. I just happened to say to Frosty Forristal, one of our trainers, “Gee, she gets them all worked up. She’s worth a goal.”

He says, “Yeah.” I didn’t know what he was talkin’ about.

In those days, you had to have a cord for the microphone. They didn’t have the cordless ones like they do now.

So she gets to centre ice and the crowd is all worked up and she lifts the mike and starts to sing, and there’s silence!
Now the crowd dies down and one of the workers comes out. But he can’t fix it and she has to go over and sit in the penalty box and sing using the announcer’s mike.

It ruined her whole thing.

Frosty had crawled underneath the seats and cut the wire!

We won the game.

[Co-writer Al Strachan’s note]: A few years later, when the Edmonton Oilers were taking on the Kings in a playoff game in the same building, Don was working for Hockey Night in Canada and told this story to Oilers coach Glen Sather.

Oddly enough, before the game the next night, the cord got cut again. Sather denied any involvement.
Fun fact: Gloria Loring and Alan Thicke co-composed the theme song for tv's "The Facts of Life", and Gloria sang on the track.

Here's a video of Gloria singing at an L.A. Raiders game.