March 19, 2018 by Kirsten Nelson

Colorado Rockies ScoreboardWhether you’ve been obsessively keeping score throughout spring training, or you’re just now feeling the thaw and realizing that opening day is on March 29, you’re going to be really into baseball this year.

It will be hard to resist the 2018 Major League Baseball (MLB) season, which seems to have a whole new level of production design. First, it’s going to start off much more emphatically than it has in recent memory, with all 30 ball clubs playing their opener on the same day for the first time in 50 years. Second, it’s the earliest start date in history (by one day, but hey, that counts).

The spectacle of that tradition-busting opening number will be followed by more showmanship throughout the season. There will be technology marvels and even more fan engagement moves, plus those ever-expanding entertainment districts around stadiums will become more captivating.

Let’s start with the technology. We’re at the point when there’s a whole lot of pixels on those sub-3mm LED video displays. And things are starting to get pretty maxed out in terms of size, too. So what’s next?

HDR is what’s next.

“We’re looking at the ability to have better pixels, not just more pixels,” said Brent Stevens, Professional Sports Sales Manager with Daktronics. “The ability to display in HDR is going to make the image better. You get that much more dynamic picture.”

As any iPhone user knows, the HDR picture is always better, right? Sure, all that image data takes up more space, but the feeling is worth it. It’s a color space thing, Stevens explained. HDR provides more colors, better colors, making the picture better with more depth and more detail.

Daktronics’ first HDR display for MLB will debut this season at Coors Field in Denver, where the Colorado Rockies went all the way with a commitment to full end-to-end HDR production capabilities. “To be able to display in HDR, you have to be able to produce in HDR,” Stevens said, adding that the Rockies are using that enhanced image quality to great effect with creative content. The display itself was designed to maintain the legacy look of the stadium’s previous scoreboard, with the video content incorporating its iconic Rocky Mountains imagery.

Meanwhile, HDR aside, if you are looking for new mega video displays for the 2018 season, check out Daktronics’ 14 new LED displays at Angel Stadium. The new right-field video board will be the third largest in MLB at 9,500 square feet, across which will glimmer 7.7 million LEDs.

Video displays are also adding depth to experience elsewhere in stadiums. Some of that premium display technology is being installed in venues beyond the seating bowl, as stadiums seek more ways to monetize event spaces. The Minnesota Twins this year will open the gates to a previously under-utilized private club at Target Field, and there will be plenty of Daktronics  narrow pixel-pitch video wall to keep people engaged in the game.

“Expanding the ability to watch the game outside the seating bowl gives fans new entertainment and concessions options, and provides more revenue for the team,” Stevens noted.

Speaking of revenue, why not make it a year-round thing? This season, the Atlanta Braves will return to their new SunTrust Park home, right in the middle of The Battery entertainment district. The area has become a destination, regardless of whether there’s a game going on.

New developments in baseball entertainment districts include the new Texas Live! complex that will surround the Texas Rangers’ new Globe Life Field. The ballpark is expected to open in 2020, but portions of Texas Live! will welcome guests later this year.

So baseball. Show up early, stay late. Hang out and enjoy better pixels while snacking on premium concessions. I’ll definitely be more of a fan this season.

About Kirsten Nelson

Kirsten Nelson has written about audio, video and experience design in all its permutations for more than 20 years. As a writer and content developer for AVIXA, Kirsten connects stories, people and technology through a variety of media. She also directs program content for the TIDE Conference and Technology Innovation Stage at InfoComm. For three years, she also created conversations around emerging media and experiential design at InfoComm's Center Stage. Prior to that, Kirsten was the editor of SCN magazine for 17 years.