Jan 27, 2014

What's the economic impact of a video scoreboard?

Really interesting post from The Business of Sports about the economic impact of a video scoreboard. Every team that thinks about investing in a scoreboard upgrade does this kind of cost-benefit analysis, but this is the first time I've seen actual published figures. The article includes this table from the Florida Panthers, via the Miami Herald:

(click for full size)

"This chart clear shows that if the County grants our request it will get its funds returned in economic impact in less than 18 months time."

Essentially, the team is trying to say that the events listed here would only take place at their arena if they get the new scoreboard, and then shows a rough calculation of what the economic impact for the county would be. I am going to assume/hope there is more math going on behind the scenes in determining these numbers, as the methodology behind an accurate economic impact study is quite detailed. It’s an interesting angle, but I have to believe they’d be able to book some of these events even without a new scoreboard, and they are completely disregarding the potential loss that the team could get in both ticket sales and sponsorship assets if they don’t upgrade it themselves. 
I reached out to my friend Brian Connolly of Victus Advisors, who is an expert in this area of research. He said, “Just because a new scoreboard is used during an event doesn’t mean that a) it’s the sole reason that event came to town, and that b) that event is attracting new dollars into the town that wouldn’t have been spent there otherwise. You need to meet both of those criteria to assign economic impact to a scoreboard.” -

Read the entire article here...

"How the Dallas Cowboys Scoreboard Works"

Interesting article from HowStuffWorks.com about the giant video scoreboard in Dallas.

Some notes:

  • The display cost the Dallas Cowboys $40 million. Mitsubishi designed and built the screens.
  • The scoreboard has four screens. Two gigantic screens face the end zones. They measure 29 feet (8.8 meters) high and 51 feet (15.5 meters) wide. The other two screens are even more massive and face the sidelines. These monstrosities measure 72 feet (21.9 meters) high and 160 feet (48.8 meters) wide. Together, all four screens create 25,000 square feet (about 2,323 square meters) of displays.
  • The sideline displays are so wide that they stretch from one 20-yard line to the other. 
  • The combined weight of the four screens is 600 tons. A 72-foot tall (21.9 meter) steel support system carries the weight. The support has 10 levels of catwalks that allow engineers access to the displays for maintenance. Steel cables 3 inches (7.6 centimeters) in diameter tether the displays to the stadium's pair of steel arches.
  • As if suspending a 600-ton display wasn't enough, the steel framework suspended from the ceiling of the stadium can also support a 90,000 pound (40,823 kilogram) basketball arena scoreboard.
  • The screen at the Dallas Cowboys stadium uses a different technology -- light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. At its most basic level, the LED is a light bulb. The light bulbs in the stadium's display are tiny and come in one of three colors: red, blue or green. By combining the light from four LEDs (two red LEDs, one blue LED and one green LED), the display creates a single pixel. Mitsubishi refers to each LED as a dot.
  • To create a high-definition effect on a display as large as the scoreboard, you need a lot of LEDs. The Dallas Cowboys scoreboard has 30 million LEDs [source: Grotticelli]. The density of LEDs allows the screens to display images at 1080p resolution -- the same resolution you'll find in high-end HDTVs at your local electronics store.
  • Mitsubishi arranges the dots in a pattern the company calls Mitsubishi Electric Diamond Vision. The LEDs are in lines of alternating blue and red or green and red dots. Any given square of four LEDs on the display will have one blue, one green and two red lights. The arrangement allows the display's processor to share LED dots between different pixels, creating what the company calls dynamic pixels.
  • According to Mitsubishi, the two sideline displays each require 635 kilowatts. The end zone displays are a little less demanding at 80 kilowatts each [source: Mitsubishi]. That means the sideline displays consume more than 2,873 times the power of the WD-82837, Mitsubishi's 83-inch HDTV, which requires 221 watts [source: Mitsubishi].

Jan 22, 2014

New York Times: At golf tournaments, fans are getting louder

Fans at major golf tournaments are getting louder. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Here's part of an article from the New York Times:

Golf tournaments are generally quiet affairs, where fans are expected to be fluent in the etiquette of a sport that affords silence as each player pulls his club, swings through the ball and follows its path.

That moment of silence, however, is increasingly being breached. Anyone attending the Barclays tournament this week or watching on TV will notice a new and seemingly out-of-place fan behavior during those quiet moments after a player completes his swing: the frequent shouting of remarks like “You the man!,” “In the hole!” and, the current favorite for no good reason, “Mashed potatoes!”

Golf continues to hew to tenets of silence that seem virtually unenforceable in every other public arena in the cellphone age, and therefore poses an irresistible challenge to those yearning to be heard. The crowds, which are as dense as a PATH train at rush hour to see Tiger Woods, a 14-time major winner who is one of the most famous athletes in the world, provide a cover of anonymity that emboldens those who want to be heard but not necessarily seen.

“It’s kind of a shame because golf was the last bastion of decorum,” the tour veteran Jerry Kelly said, “and now it’s not.”


The fans shouting to be heard are attention seekers from the same family tree that produced Rollen Stewart, whose thirst for fame in the late 1970s spurred him to attend major sporting events, including the Super Bowl and the Masters, wearing a rainbow-colored Afro-style wig and positioning himself where the television cameras could not avoid him.

Stewart’s immediate descendants were the fans in the 1990s of John Daly. The chain-smoking, long-hitting, six-pack-abs-eschewing Daly won two majors and developed a rabid following that included fans who shouted “You da man” after each of his prodigious drives.

Christian End, an associate professor of psychology at Xavier University who specializes in fan behavior, said: “Probably part of their motivation is to get their 15 minutes of fame. Every time they show a television clip of a shot where the individual who yelled can clearly be heard, that person is kind of part of that event. They are in a way a part of sports history.”

In December 2011, Andrew Widmar, then a member of the Pepperdine golf team, was with a few friends at the tournament in Southern California that Woods annually hosts. Woods arrived at the 18th tee, where Widmar had positioned himself, needing a birdie to end a two-year victory drought.

After Woods made contact with the ball, Widmar inserted himself into the drama of the moment by breaking the silence with a shout of “mashed potatoes.” While more original than “You da man,” he could not claim it as his own; Widmar had heard it in the background of a YouTube video. Had Woods not had a chance to catch Zach Johnson, “I wouldn’t have wasted my breath,” he said.

When Woods went on to make a birdie to seal the long-awaited victory, Widmar’s voice became a part of the TV highlights package, spawning a generation of imitators. In an e-mail exchange, he said his motivation was to gain the attention of a small group of his friends and not the wider world of golf.

“I don’t see this as being a ‘look at me, I’m ridiculous’ thing,” Widmar said. “No one is going to do it to get any kind of national or global recognition for shouting something absurd.” He added, “The cameramen aren’t ever going to spin around and focus on the ‘mashed potatoes’ guy.”

Jim Furyk, at the Barclays on Thursday, said a fan distracted him on the 16th tee during the third round of the P.G.A. Championship.

The shift in golf fans’ behavior is not unlike the transformation of the rock ‘n’ roll scene in the early 1970s, when the intimate concert experience gave way to the impersonal stadium spectacle.

In his new book, “What You Want Is in the Limo,” the author Michael Walker explores the evolution of rock stars, led by Alice Cooper, Led Zeppelin and the Who, from high-minded performers who were happy to eke out a living to highly paid entertainers with entourages and private jets and security staffs.

The larger crowds, Walker said, created a physical and emotional distance between the performers and their audiences, which some fans tried to bridge with rebel yells. Their “Mashed Potatoes” equivalent was “Free Bird,” the title of a Lynyrd Skynyrd song, or “Whipping Post,” an Allman Brothers tune, which people would shout out at concerts not involving either Lynyrd Skynyrd or the Allman Brothers Band.


Cooper, an avid golfer who was part of the pro-am field at this year’s tour stop outside Palm Springs, Calif., applauds the noisemakers in the crowds. “I think golf is missing the boat by not having everyone yelling at the same time,” he said by e-mail. “When everything is dead quiet and someone clicks a camera, it’s distracting. When everyone’s making noise, there’s no startling noise.”

Besides, he added: “Anytime you’re told not to make noise, you want to make noise. I think it’s something like a pure tribal mentality. Some people just can’t keep quiet, and usually the ones who make the most noise are the ones who’ve had the most beer. That’s true pretty much at all sporting events and concerts.”


The oohs and aahs from the crowd after well-struck shots and the gasps after the bad ones add richness to a telecast, which is why television producers are loath to throw out the color with the colorless comments. Tommy Roy, the NBC Sports golf producer, said: “There really isn’t a filter that will eliminate that. I suppose you could have a four-second delay. We sort of pride ourselves on being live all the time. While there are idiots out there who shout these things to where it’s distracting and unbecoming for golf, it’s not to the point where it’s so offensive we have to shut our audio off.”

Jan 21, 2014

Promotions round-up: Steve Martin on noisy arenas, glow sticks, Rene Rancourt singing Christmas carols, more...

1. Glow sticks handed out for a Hornets logo reveal.

2. Bruins anthem singer Rene Rancourt singing Christmas carols.

3. A giant four-sided washing machine on the field for Fulham FC.
4. First 1,000 fans get free orange juice in Maryland for women's basketball

5. Steve Martin is not a fan of "loudest arena / loudest fans" promotions.

6. Kansas City Chiefs’ Crowd Louder Than KISS at Full Volume

7. Halftime entertainment in Colchester (UK)

8. Michigan State Students Force Two Consecutive Shot-Clock Violations

9. Atmosphere and fans' role in Premier League games becoming a concern
Recent managers' complaints at apathy of fans raises issue; Fan groups look into ways to increase involvement at games

Jan 20, 2014

How the St. Louis Blues reclaimed the old arena organ

Doing some prep for my Algonquin College Sports Business Management class this week, where we're talking about the role of music in sports. Found this interesting article about how the St. Louis Blues re-acaquired the original stadium organ.  This article appeared on CBSSports.com in January, 2013.

For a franchise with an identity so closely tied to music, the St. Louis Blues organization must have been overjoyed when it reclaimed an important piece of its musical heritage.

Chris Kerber, the radio voice of the Blues, tweeted Tuesday that the team had reacquired the organ that used to fill old St. Louis Arena with its upbeat melodies and St. Louis staple When The Saints Go Marching In.

 According to team COO Bruce Affleck, he had received a message from an old family neighbor who was in possession of the same organ that long-time organist Ernie Hayes used to play at Blues home games.

"His dad ended up with the organ, not sure how," Affleck explained in an email to CBSSports.com.

"The message said, 'Bruce, this is Bob Dienstbach and I just wanted you to know we are putting this organ Ernie Hays used to play at the old Arena on Craigslist.' "

Seeing an opportunity to reclaim this important piece of team history, Affleck jumped into action. "I called right away and left him a message and said we would buy it sight unseen, which we did," Affleck said. He did not disclose the amount paid.

According to a Jan. 3 report from KPLR in St. Louis, Dienstbach listed the organ online for $1,000.

 The organ was delivered to the Blues on Tuesday.

 Also according to the KPLR story, Dienstbach and reporter Patrick Clark inadvertently uncovered a floppy disk and hand-written notes in the organ's seat. The disk included original music they believed to be recorded by Hayes, which is playable from the organ.

 According to Affleck, the team's current organist, Jeremy Boyer, was a protégé of Hayes'. The former organist was a St. Louis institution, playing for both the Blues and Cardinals for many years. Hayes passed away last October at the age of 77.

 UPDATE: According to team spokesman Rich Jankowski, Hayes' old organ will not be replacing the one currently in Scottrade Center, but the plan is to "use it at some point." Now that the instrument that helped make Hayes a local legend is back in the rotation, fans can think back to the days when the in-game entertainment consisted of the hockey on the ice and the organ music in the air.

Jan 13, 2014

20th Anniversary of the Milwaukee Brewers racing sausages

Found this in an old bookmark file tonight, while preparing for my Algonquin College Sports Management class tomorrow.

Here's a press release from the Brewers:

This Thursday, June 27, 2013 marks an anniversary of one of the most historic events in Milwaukee Brewers history. On that day in 1993, the Klement's Famous Racing Sausages came to life, jumping off of the scoreboard and onto the field to complete the first of well over 1,000 "official" races to date. The races became a fixture at Milwaukee County Stadium and the tradition carried on with the move to Miller Park.
The Milwaukee Brewers and Klement's want to invite you to join in celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the occasion on Thursday, June 27. The fun starts at 6 am at NorthPoint Custard, 2272 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive, along the Lake Michigan shores. The first 250 fans will receive a free sausage breakfast sandwich (of course), a coffee, and best of all, an exclusive 20th Anniversary Klement's Famous Racing Sausages Commemorative T-Shirt. Fewer than 500 of the shirts will be made, and the event will be first come, first served.
That afternoon, the Brewers will host a pre-game ceremony to officially mark the anniversary, which will include a race featuring only the "Original Three" Sausages and much more.
A few fun facts on the history of the Klement's Famous Racing Sausages:

  1. The Klement's Famous Racing Sausages began as a scoreboard animation in the early 1990's with three characters running toward Milwaukee County Stadium against the backdrop of the city skyline. They were shown running through the parking lot, arriving at the gates to the outfield, where they merely became dots on the scoreboard and a winner was determined.
  2. In the fall of 1992, the idea to have the Sausages transform from a simple scoreboard dot to arrive on field to complete the race as live Sausages -- was presented by Milwaukee graphic designer Michael Dillon (McDill Design) to Gabe Paul (then VP of Operations for The Milwaukee Brewers). During the off-season, Dillon advanced the idea on his own and hand crafted three larger than life costumes of the lovable characters: a Bratwurst, a Polish, and an Italian sausage. In the spring of 1993, he got the call from Gabe Paul. The sausages could race -- live.
  3. The first race took place at Milwaukee County Stadium on June 27, 1993 and made history by being the first-ever live racing event by mascots at a MLB game.
  4. The original race was scheduled for June 26, 1993 -- a notable date for fans as it was the first series in which former Milwaukee Brewer, Paul Molitor, played in County Stadium, as a Toronto Blue Jay against his former team. However, there was a scoreboard malfunction that day and the race was postponed to Sunday, June 27.
  5. The winner of the first race was the Bratwurst. The original costumed runners were all McDill Design employees -- Michael Dillon as the Bratwurst, Dan Necci as the Italian, and Jeff Paul as the Polish.
  6. According to Dillon, the race was a well-kept secret, which resulted in a mixed reception: the crowd went "berserk" but the officiating umpires (and more than a few players) thought that it "diminished the professional nature" of the game. Coincidentally, the controversy may have been the catalyst the team needed as the Brewers had been scoreless through the sixth inning and rallied with two runs in both the 7th and 8th innings - after the sausage race.
  7. For the remainder of the 1993 season, the Sausage characters raced live only at those games that had particularly high attendance.
  8. In the 1994 season, the live Sausage race resumed on Sunday, May 29 -- the day the Brewers retired Robin Yount's number 19 jersey, and became a fixture at every home game since -- with Klement's as the official sponsor.
  9. The phenomenon of live racing mascots was born in Milwaukee, and was a first for MLB. Entering the 2013 season, nearly half of all MLB teams now have their own version of the iconic race.
  10. A video of the June 27, 1993, first live race can be viewed here.