Venue News: Baltimore Ravens Plan Video Upgrades; Vikings Stadium Will Accommodate Baseball Diamond

Compiled by Karen Hogan, Associate Editor, Sports Video Group

The Baltimore Ravens are planning to spend $35 million on stadium improvements to enhance the fans game-day experience. The four new LED boards will give Ravens’ fans constant updates of out-of-town scores and fantasy football stats, along with different vantage points on replays. Two new high-definition boards will greet those who enter M&T Bank Stadium from Gates A or D, showing live game broadcasts and Ravens’ highlights. The lower concourse will have a completely new look with open-kitchen styled concession stands, expanded team retail stores, wood and steel columns, and purple lighting. The upper concourse will undergo a similar transformation one year later…

…The Minnesota Vikings’ new football stadium will be designed to accommodate a baseball field. The Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority announced an agreement Friday on a multi-use field configuration for the $975 million stadium. The Minnesota Twins left the Metrodome for their own new ballpark at Target Field in 2010. But the Minnesota Gophers and other college and prep baseball teams want to play early-season games in the Vikings’ new stadium. Under the agreement, the new stadium will feature a 26-foot-high right field wall, retractable seats on the north sideline and removable dugouts…

…In recent years, where stadium-naming rights could be sold, universities and professional sports teams have sold them. On Tuesday, that trend took another strange turn when Florida Atlantic University, in Boca Raton, firmed a deal to rename its football building GEO Group Stadium. Perhaps that pushed stadium naming to its zenith, if only because the GEO Group is a private prison corporation. The GEO Group, which is based in Boca Raton, secured the naming rights with a $6 million gift, paid out over 12 years through its charitable arm, the largest such donation in Florida Atlantic’s athletic history…

…Five years ago, the thirteen commissioners of Miami-Dade County approved a plan to spend $347 million in taxpayer money to build a new 37,000 seat retractable-roof ballpark for the Miami Marlins. The decision has not gone well. Last week, the new Marlins Park was back in the news as a source of controversy when one of the team’s beat reporters, Joe Copozzi, posted on Twitter a picture that showed just four fans waiting for single-game tickets on the day Marlins tickets went on sale. Forbes asks, will an empty Marlins Park create a backlash against sports stadium subsidies?

…Now that Texas A&M is in the SEC, and Johnny Manziel and Co. have made the Aggies a legitimate national title contender, old Kyle Field is going to need some work. The Aggies’ $420 million renovation and expansion of the stadium has been in the works for a while, and it appears the school is planning to get its money’s worth. Doug Keegan, of SB Nation’s GoodBullHunting.com, tweeted out links to many apparently leaked renderings of the stadium, and if the project turns out looking anything like the pictures, it’ll be one of the destination stadiums for college football fans. The Houston Chronicle linked to some of the conceptual renderings as well, saying they haven’t been finalized or approved but the paper was told they are “accurate in terms of A&M’s overall plans.”