Sep 28, 2010

Misc links: mascot races, junkyard jumbotron, on-field security

Sep 25, 2010

Video: The original Chicago Bears mascot

Here's a great mini-doc from 1970 about George Motica, the guy who dressed up as the original Chicago Bears mascot. After you watch this video, you'll see why most sports mascots aren't allowed to talk.

(via Your Mascot Sucks)

Sep 21, 2010

World's largest HD videoboard is coming to Charlotte Motor Speedway

Here's a computer rendering of the board:

It will measure 200 feet wide by 80 feet high. Think about how big that is -- the size of an NHL skating rink. It's also bigger than the Dallas Cowboys screen, which is a miniscule 159 x 71 feet in comparison.

Here's a press release about the new scoreboard:

CONCORD, N.C., Sep 21, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Continuing a tradition of innovation and fabulous firsts, Speedway Motorsports Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!trk (TRK 16.27, -0.21, -1.27%) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer O. Bruton Smith and Charlotte Motor Speedway officials announced a partnership with Panasonic to revolutionize the fan experience at motorsports events with the creation of the world's largest high-definition video board.

Panasonic will also become the founding sponsor of the video board and a Speedway Motorsports Inc. alliance partner around its broad portfolio of advanced technologies.

At an incredible length of 200 feet wide, standing 80 feet tall and weighing 165,000 pounds, the video board will cover an expansive 16,000 square feet and be located between Turns 2 and 3 along the backstretch of the legendary superspeedway. Fans seated throughout the frontstretch from Turn 4 to Turn 1 will have clear viewing angles of the gigantic board that will feature 720P high-definition visuals illuminated by more than nine million light emitting diode, or LED, lamps.

"Charlotte Motor Speedway continually establishes itself as a pioneer when it comes to one-of-a-kind, over-the-top facility enhancements that change the game for motorsports fans," said Smith. "Fans will see this like a gigantic television that will elevate the NASCAR experience in ways they have never dreamed. It will give them a view of the on-track action on the world's largest high-definition screen. The fans will feel closer than ever before to the cars and stars of NASCAR at each event."

In addition to the live race coverage, the video board will provide fans with interactive entertainment, continuous leaderboard updates, sponsor information and instant replays.

"Panasonic is proud of our efforts to bring this spectacular new high-definition scoreboard to Charlotte Motor Speedway," said James Doyle, president, Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Company. "This amazing example of industry-leading technology and engineering speaks volumes about our strong relationship with Charlotte Motor Speedway as we work together to bring innovative concepts to life and enhance the fan experience.

"Panasonic worked closely with Charlotte Motor Speedway to design the end-to-end system from the control room to this massive HD video board," Doyle added. "We are confident that the new Panasonic HD video board system will leave fans awestruck and make their entire Charlotte Motor Speedway experience that much more enjoyable and memorable."

Construction will begin on the video board following the Oct. 13-16 Bank of America 500 Week at Charlotte Motor Speedway and is scheduled to be complete by April, 2011.

Panasonic is now the exclusive audio/video provider of Charlotte Motor Speedway with category exclusivity inclusive of camera, camcorder, television, display, and Blu-ray.

The creation of the video board is the latest in a tradition of trend-setting innovations and fabulous firsts at Charlotte Motor Speedway during its 51-year history. Other notable firsts include:

-- 600-Mile Race. In 1960, Charlotte Motor Speedway became the first and only track to host a 600-mile NASCAR-sanctioned event. Now known as the Coca-Cola 600, the race is still the longest and one of the most prestigious on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule.

-- Luxury Condominiums. Charlotte Motor Speedway became the first sports facility in America to offer year-round living accommodations in 1984 when it released 40 condominiums for sale high above Turn 1. Twelve additional condominiums were added in 1990.

-- The Speedway Club. Opened in 1988, The Speedway Club was the first exclusive members-only private club to be constructed at a motorsports facility. The club features restaurant seating for 240 people overlooking the frontstretch and expansive ballroom and boardroom banquet facilities. Members enjoy a champagne toast with the race winner after each Coca-Cola 600 and Bank of America 500.

-- Night Racing. Charlotte Motor Speedway became the first modern speedway to offer night racing in 1992 after installing a $1.7-million, 1,200-fixture permanent lighting system. The system was different from any installed at other tracks in that it used a system of adjustable mirrors surrounding the inside of the track to moderate the light aimed at the drivers.

Sep 19, 2010

Houston Astros try to set a harmonica record

I thought this was another Onion joke at first, but it's true. Last week, the Houston Astros tried to set a world harmonica record. Here's info from their web site.
"On Friday, September 10th the Houston Astros and their fans will attempt to set a new world record for most people playing a song on the harmonica.

The world record event will take place immediately following the 7:05pm game against the Dodgers. 10,000 harmonicas will be handed out prior to the game and fans who stay after the game will be taught how to play a song and a new world record will be set!

A Guinness Book of World Records representative will be present to verify the record and the number of people playing. Be a part of history!"

(via The Biz of Baseball)

Sep 16, 2010

NFL (finally) allows teams to encourage fan noise at stadiums

I know this is old news but I thought it should be documented here. The NFL has finally rescinded a rule that prevented teams from using noise prompts on video scoreboards and electronic signage.

Here's an article from that sums up the situation:

...this season at the Superdome, thanks to a rule change approved in March by the NFL competition committee, the Saints will have more leeway to encourage fans to let loose with as much noise as they can produce.

Under a rule that took effect in 1989, a team was not allowed to use video boards to show anything that would promote more crowd noise. Under the previous rule on club-controlled sound, "The use of noise meters or such messages as 'Noise!, ' 'Let's hear it!, ' 'Raise the Roof, ' 'Let's go Crazy, ' 'Pump it up, ' '12th Man' are prohibited at any time during the game. These examples are not limited to the foregoing, but also would include similar messages that encourage crowds to make random noise in order to disrupt the opposition."

...those restrictions no longer will apply until the play clock reaches 15 seconds.

Under the new rules, until the play clock hits that point, the Saints will be allowed to show any messages that aren't vulgar or derogatory on the video boards to encourage noise from the fans.

The Saints haven't offered specifics about what the team might do to get the fans' cheers in the Vikings' ears.

"We will certainly do everything within the rules to encourage fan participation and enjoyment of the game, " Saints vice president of communications Greg Bensel said in an e-mail.

The Atlanta Falcons have revealed a few of their ideas on how to promote fan noise.

Before key plays, the Falcons plan to show a decibel meter to encourage fans to push the indicator as high as possible.

There are restrictions under the new rules. For example, a team can't pump in noise to disrupt the visitors.

Under the new rules, "Any noise that is under club control must cease when the play clock is running, and the visiting team is in possession of the ball, or after the ball is kicked by either team on a kickoff. As an example, if the play clock is not running, a drumbeat, accompanied by "Defense" or some other message on the video board, may be played, but the drumbeat and any other audio must stop when the play clock starts while the visiting team is on offense."

Also under the new rules, videos of fans, cheerleaders and home-team players must stop when the play clock hits 15 seconds. Public-address announcements must stop when the huddle breaks or when the visiting team is ready to snap the ball in a no-huddle offense.

Also prohibited are videos of the visiting team's huddle, conferences in the visitors' bench area and the quarterback at the line of scrimmage.

The new noise policy stems from the NFL's effort to make the game more exciting for fans at the stadiums.

Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke at the league's annual meeting in March about how some fans might find it more comfortable to stay home and watch a game on television.

And here are the old rules, which I found on the Seattle Times web site from 2006. Even the wave was prohibited! (I blogged about the issue back about this time in 2006 as well.)

Sep 10, 2010

Recommended reading: Mark Cuban on fan experience

An absolutely brilliant post from Mark Cuban about what he's trying to achieve with the gameday experience at Mavericks games. Required reading for my students this year, recommended reading for everybody else. A sample:
We in the sports business don’t sell the game, we sell unique, emotional experiences.We are not in the business of selling basketball. We are in the business of selling fun and unique experiences. I say it to our people at the Mavs at all time, I want a Mavs game to be more like a great wedding than anything else.

You know the wedding I’m talking about. The one where everyone is up dancing, smiling , cheering, laughing. The one where Grandma Ethel has her annual vodka gimlet and is trying to do the Dougie. The one where although you have no earthly idea what the Dougie is, you can’t say no to your 12 year old niece. The one where the whole place does the Macarena while laughing so hard they are crying. The one where everyone sings out loud to every song and you hug the cousin you haven’t seen in 10 years and hope you don’t see for another 10. It doesn’t matter if half the room doesn’t believe the couple will still be married at the end of the year. It matters if everyone in the place is having a great time. It matters if its the type of wedding that everyone in the room wished or wishes their wedding was or will be like this one. It matters that you leave the reception and your hands hurt from clapping , your mouth hurts from smiling so much and your throat is sore because you were laughing , singing and hollering so much. That’s a great wedding.

That’s how I want a Mavs game to be.

I want it to be very participatory. I want it to be very social. I want it to be very inclusive. I want it to be memorable. I want it to be so much fun people talk about it to their friends and can’t wait to go back. I want every parent to get tears in their eyes when they see their kids jumping up and down when the score is 2 to 0. When they are chanting Lets Go Mavs . When they are dancing and trying to get on the big screen. I want the guy on the date knowing that the longest he will have to talk is during halftime and that after the game, and until the next one, he can talk about the game itself and not have all the pressure of trying to think of something to say while his date can be relieved that she can enjoy the game without him talking. Or vice versa of course. I want everyone coming to a Mavs game to be able to find their own personal attachment to that night. I know I can’t control what happens on the court every game, but I can do my very best to make sure that no matter what the score, we have done all we can to make the fan experience like a great wedding.
Read the entire post...

Sep 2, 2010

Video: Astrodome Scoreboard Memories

Not sure exactly what this is or where it came from. The person who posted it to YouTube writes: "this was @ the Astrodome In Houston Texas this was from the Scoreboard... Lots of Memories. I hope you enjoy.... from 1965 to 1988. I hope you will Enjoy the Video."

Can anyone give any more info?

See also: Astros Home Run Sequence