Venue News: Dodger Stadium Unveils Renovations; New Video Board A Sticking Point in Wrigley Field Negotiations

Compiled by Karen Hogan, Associate Editor, Sports Video Group

Dodger Stadium opened its gates to fans for the first time in nearly six months Friday, unveiling a $100 million range of renovations to the 51-year-old ballpark. They’re not quite done yet, though. With opening day Monday, construction workers will be working on the stadium through the weekend to ensure regular-season readiness. The Dodgers completely renovated all restrooms in four of the five areas of the park, installed new hexagonal high-definition video boards in left and right field and added food options on the top three levels. Cell-phone service support and a stadium-wide Wi-Fi network are also coming shortly. Aesthetically, the park won’t look all that different to fans, the most noticeable changes being the scoreboards and the smaller size of the field box section, designed to improve sightlines for higher-paying fans…

…A key sticking point in the negotiations over the rehab of Wrigley Field is whether to allow the Cubs to erect a giant video screen within the Friendly Confines, with the team seeking a 6,000-square-foot display that would be about triple the size of the iconic center-field scoreboard, sources say. According to the sources, who are familiar with detailed proposals being discussed during the now-daily talks, the debate is focused more on the size and placement of a Jumbotron-like screen than on whether it would be allowed at all — with the Ricketts family that owns the Cubs rejecting anything smaller than 6,000 square feet. Sources say the video screen’s location also is a significant issue. Since the Cubs have not suggested moving the center-field scoreboard, which is protected under Wrigley’s designation as a Chicago landmark, a video screen would have to be placed behind the bleachers in either right or left field. A video screen as large as the Cubs are proposing could potentially block views from rooftop businesses that line the stadium’s outfield…

…With a screen equal to 2,182 42-inch flat screens, the Seattle Mariners’ new MarinersVision scoreboard contains the largest video screen in Major League Baseball. It also ranks as North America’s third-largest sports venue video screen. In addition to the fundamental information – runs, hits and errors – a statistical chart for batters will include such “advanced” statistics as on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS, a combination of the two. Replays will be enhanced by four manned cameras as well as a fifth camera over center field, operated from a booth in the press box broadcast center. Tweets from fans will appear periodically…

…As the Dolphins and their owner try to finagle $167  million in public money to help fund $389 million in stadium renovations, the Dolphins have made another concession. They’ll pay back the principal.  In 2043.The Dolphins also have offered to pay for the costs of the proposed public referendum on the proposal, to condition final approval on the stadium landing one of the next two Super Bowls to be awarded in May, to commit to remaining in Miami for 30 years, and to pay up to $100 million in penalties if the stadium fails to attract Super Bowls, BCS games, international soccer matches, and similar events over the next 30 years…

…Just hours after the latest student protest, Boca-Raton based GEO Group on Monday withdrew its planned $6 million gift to Florida Atlantic University, a gift that would have put its name on the school’s football stadium. Controversy had dogged the gift from the beginning, as GEO Group’s status as the second-largest private prison operator in the country prompted jokes nicknaming the stadium Owlcatraz, after FAU’s mascot. More serious criticism came from human-rights organizations on the company’s reputation for housing prisoners in unhealthy, abusive squalor. Only days ago, FAU leaders had insisted the naming would go forward. FAU’s board of trustees chairman on Friday said he’d seen no evidence of wrongdoing by the firm.