As part of a $575 million facelift, Chicago’s ballpark has successfully integrated LED video displays and signs
By Laura Peters
“Happiness is going eyeball-to-eyeball with those Cub fans. That’s really what I appreciated most about playing in Wrigley Field.”
– Ernie Banks
Perhaps there’s no more enjoyable place to be on a warm sunny after-noon than sitting in the stands of your favorite ballpark with a hot dog or beverage in hand, and hearing “play ball!” ring out. For many Chicagoans, that place is Wrigley Field, especially when the Cubs are winning. Second only to Boston’s Fenway Park in age, Wrigley is known for its intimate design, ivy-covered outfield walls and manually operated scoreboard. This is the home of Billy Williams, Ron Santo, Ryne Sandberg and Andre Dawson.
It is exactly this celebrated heritage that Cubs’ owner Tom Ricketts is trying to maintain through a $500 million, five-year stadium renovation to repair crumbling infrastructure and upgrade facilities. Though improvements won’t be completed until 2019, many changes are already visible, including vastly improved signage. Even skeptical fans might admit that 21st-century technology has been skillfully added without sacrificing Wrigley’s charm. The completed signage includes two jumbo HD LED video displays, several ribbon displays, numerous LED scoreboards and, perhaps most compelling, a renovated 1934 marquee at the main entrance.
What HD LEDs bring
Because Wrigley Field has landmark status, the final video display sizes and positioning were chosen to minimally disrupt the open-flow feeling in the outfield. Daktronics (Brookings, SD) provided the HD LED video displays, one 42 ft. high by 95 ft. wide in left field, and the other at the right field line measuring 29 ft. high by 71 ft. wide, both with 13HD pixel layout. The key trends in LEDs that have made these massive displays economical include the ever-increasing brightness of LEDs along with improving efficiency. In Daktronics’ 13HD pixel layout, a pixel of one red, one green and one blue LED are separated by 13mm (0.5 in.) from the next pixel. The display is com-posed of multiple 14.4 x 14.4-in. (366 x 366mm) modules, each containing 28 x 28 pixels. Screen brightness maxes out at 6,500 nits (candela/m2), but the brightness adjusts automatically depending on light conditions.
“The Cubs were careful to integrate the technology tastefully, and they did a fantastic job of that,” said Will Ellerbruch, Daktronics’ national sales manager for live events. “We provided them with high-resolution technology to provide great picture quality with the brightness to combat direct sunlight during day games.”
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