Alpha Video Makes Marlins’ Entertainment-Destination Vision a Reality

After nearly two decades of sharing their Miami Gardens home with the Dolphins, playing in a stadium built for football, the Marlins are headed to Little Havana and a venue built just for them. The team will christen the $515 million, 37,442-seat Marlins Park on April 1 with an on-deck series against the New York Yankees. With a brand-new stadium, team name, and uniform design — not too mention a fiery new manager and some key offseason signings — it’s a whole new ballgame in South Florida.

A rendering of Marlins Park

Saturday March 3 marks the first opportunity for Marlins faithful to see the Little Havana ballpark, at the team’s annual FanFest. After 33 months of construction, the public will get to see the ballpark’s special elements firsthand: the retractable roof, the natural grass, the two large aquariums behind home plate finally stocked with fish, to name a few. They’ll also see more than 700 video displays throughout the stadium, powered by the Marlins’ video-control room.

Alpha Video was awarded the contract to integrate the control room that will power the ballpark’s LED, LCD, and IPTV signage in July and, since then, has worked to transform Marlins Park into a high-tech entertainment experience.

“The Marlins really view game day as an event that extends beyond the baseball game,” says Jeff Volk,  director, Alpha Video Sports & Entertainment Group. “[The baseball game] is the primary focus, but there are also a lot of events happening in the ballpark to keep fans [engaged]. [The Marlins] view [Marlins Park] more as an entertainment destination than just a ballpark.”

Powering an Entertainment Destination
Marlins Park is outfitted with 14 Daktronics LED displays, anchored by a 101- x 51-ft. display in right center field, 935- x 3.5-ft. LED ribbon board, and 96- x 10-ft. field-level out-of-town scoreboard.

More than 700 Sony TVs paired with Enseo HD3000 set-top boxes constitute the Marlins’ IPTV network, while two 32-in. Sunbright monitors flank each of the team’s 38 high-end suites.

With the need to power content to so many screens throughout the venue, it’s hardly surprising that the Marlins’ video-control room is not actually a single room but multiple spaces dedicated to scoreboard production, machines and equipment, in-game editing, postproduction, storage, and offices.

“In their main scoreboard room, [the Marlins] have a main production area that includes all of your typical production positions: the replay operators, the director, the producer, the technical director, and the graphics operators,” Volk explains. “It also houses all of the scoring and scoreboard functions.”

The main production area, located on the third-base side of press level, contains a Sony MVS-7000 production switcher, an eight-channel EVS system, a Click Effects Crossfire system and multiple graphics workstations, and Harris video, audio, and data-routing technology. In-stadium video will be captured by a complement of Sony HD wired and wireless cameras, and in-stadium communications will be facilitated by a Riedel intercom system.

Two Avid edit suites are housed in a separate area, where editors can create in-game highlight packages. A machine room stores processing equipment and the signal cabling that connects the main production room to various wired-camera locations throughout the stadium. Across the hallway, the Marlins have included an engineering office, a third edit suite, and sound booth.

“The production facility that we built [supports] all of the in-game entertainment features: it drives the video board, it drives the IPTV system, [it drives] all of the in-game entertainment elements,” says Volk. “The Marlins also do their marketing and television commercials largely in-house, and so the control room and edit suites [help] support all of those functions as well.”

Going Paperless
In keeping with the league-wide push to find innovative ways of “going green,” the Marlins plan to institute a paperless workflow in the main scoreboard-control room.

“[The Marlins] wanted to get away from having printed paper game scripts as much as possible,” says Volk. “There will be a tablet computer at each production location that will carry the game script and allow operators to run down the game script without having a paper script sitting right in front of them.”

Lenovo tablets will provide the game script at each production workstation. Alpha Video has also supplied the team with a number of iPads for additional game-day elements.

Nearing the Finish Line
As Opening Day approaches, Alpha Video will wind down an integration process over a year in the making. The company first met with the Marlins in early 2011, was awarded the contract in July, and immediately began to build out the system at its Minneapolis-based facility. Operations moved to Miami in October, and, with less than a month to go, only a few minor details remain.

“We’re ready to go and ready for primetime,” says Volk. “With a few minor exceptions, we could produce a major-league baseball game if Opening Day was tomorrow. We’d be ready to go.”