PAWTUCKET — The desire to remain current with the times and create a setting that’s aesthetically pleasing to the eyes of those passing through the turnstiles at McCoy Stadium – the members of the Pawtucket Red Sox front office continue to display a jeweler’s attention to detail.
Once again the organization has put the “meta” in metamorphosis. The never-ending pursuit to enhance a ballpark that was erected exactly 80 years ago has yielded a host of changes as the countdown timer for the 2012 season and home opener is less than two weeks away (Thursday, April 5 to be precise). One particular amenity that figures to immediately grab the audience’s attention regardless of seat location is a newfangled high-definition scoreboard that’s positioned exactly where its now-demolished predecessor was perched behind the left-field berm.
This week marked the official start of this construction project with the hope that the installation is complete by early next week. Serving as a compliment to the other electronic additions that have sprouted up in recent seasons, the most notable difference to the left-field board can be found in the presentation. Instead of providing inning-by-inning results and player statistics in a numerical format, the new board will feature a message center equipped with video capabilities.
“It really gives us another level of technology,” said PawSox team president Mike Tamburro, noting in particular that the latest feature to hit McCoy will dovetail with the ribbon board located above the visitor’s bullpen in right field. “This is all about continuing to make sure that McCoy stays as state of the art as possible and give fans the best possible show.”
In order to go about the task of upgrading the left-field scoreboard that was ushered in as part of the extreme makeover McCoy Stadium underwent prior to the ‘99 season, PawSox officials put out feelers with Tamburro noting that a half-dozen bids were submitted. The winning bid, which was also the lowest, was awarded to TS Sports, a Texas-based company that’s certainly no stranger to undertaking projects at McCoy. TS Sports is responsible for the mammoth high-def board in right-center field that became part of the stadium’s ambience in 2010.
TS Sports is well equipped when it comes to engineering, designing and ultimately assembling video displays at sporting venues. The list includes Cameron Indoor Stadium (home of Duke basketball), American Airlines Center (where the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and NHL’s Dallas Stars play home games), Gampel Pavilion (UConn basketball), Michigan Stadium (a.k.a “The Big House” where University of Michigan football plays) and Milwaukee’s Bradley Center (the venue for the NBA’s Bucks and Marquette men’s basketball team).
“We had a good experience with (TS Sports) and felt that the board they put up a few years back was high quality,” Tamburro said.
From purely a timing standpoint, the efficiency of this entire soup-to-nuts process is something to behold. One day the old board is getting taken down. The next thing Tamburro and the rest of the staff knew upon looking outside to check up on the endeavor, there was a new board being harnessed together.
It goes without saying that the gorgeous weather that’s blanketed the region over the past several days has helped push the project along. Contrast that to when TS Sports came to town two years ago, when a wintry mix greeted the workers.
“People will look at that board and think that something like that would take a long time to get done,” Tamburro said. “These guys are pros in making sure that we’ve got plenty of time to get (the board) operational and gives us a chance to test it out before the opener.
“It’s a heck of a project,” the head of the franchise stressed.
The new video board might serve as the fans’ newest gift for the 2012 campaign, but that wasn’t the lone item on the PawSox’ offseason to-do list:
– According to Tamburro, the drainage system at McCoy in and around the field with particular attention paid to foul territory was augmented with a slew of new drains joining the current ones already in place. “Hopefully this will make a couple of rainouts disappear this summer.”
– Three-quarters of the field-level suites along the third base side will be gutted and completely redone this season with the remaining suites receiving similar treatment in 2013.
– A maintenance and storage room has been added to the main concourse featuring a large walk-in cooler. “This will guarantee that fans receive the coldest drink they’ll get any place in the building,” Tamburro said.
– An additional high-def camera will bring the number of camera angles featured during the PawSox’ in-house broadcast system to four. For the second straight season all games at McCoy will be streamed live on pawsox.com along with most road games.
“It would be interesting for fans to know that we were the most watched minor-league franchise in all of baseball last year with the in-house broadcast system,” Tamburro proudly stated.
– A PawSox phone app for fans with iPhones and androids will allow them to stay connected with the latest happenings and purchase tickets.
– A program that was first introduced last summer that allowed fans who purchased tickets online to print them out has been refined. “It’s about reducing waiting time [at ticket lines] and getting into the ballpark quicker to relax and smell that green grass,” Tamburro said.
– Three new player murals will be unveiled as current Red Sox pitchers Daniel Bard, Clay Buchholz and ex-prospect-now-Texas-Ranger David Murphy are among the latest former PawSox players to have their portraits placed on the walls at McCoy.