Monday, April 6, 2015

New video board called 'perfect,' 'spectacular'

Third baseman Mike Olt thought his days with the Cubs were over after Saturday's workout. He and teammate Jorge Soler both hit balls off the new video scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and one of Olt's batting-practice home runs knocked out a panel.
"I went home thinking, 'Oh my God, I can't believe I did that,'" Olt said on Sunday. "They fixed it."
The 3,990-square-foot video board, now installed at the back of the left-field bleachers, will be protected during batting practice with netting. Carl Rice, vice president of ballpark operations, said that all Olt did was loosen a cable, and it did not take long to repair.
"It's very sturdy technology," Rice said.
The video board doesn't replace the manually operated scoreboard in center, but it is larger than the old one.
"When I saw the mockups, I was mildly concerned," Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, said. "When I saw the photos when I was in Arizona, I was extremely concerned. Did you ever hang a flat-screen [television] on your wall, and your wife is telling you it's too big and you're arguing it's not too big, even though you know it's too big? That's how I thought I'd be, and I got here ... It's perfect."
Manager Joe Maddon also thinks the board is just the right size and enhancement for the ballpark, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year.
"It's spectacular," Maddon said. "I'm sure it will be met with resistance, but I think new normals are created in three to five years, and I think you'll get the new normal working here where the people will be accepting of it."
The fact that the video board -- part of the first phase of a five-year renovation plan for the ballpark -- is up at all is an accomplishment, as two weeks ago the snow on the field was six inches deep.
The bleachers were not ready for Opening Night and are covered with photos of Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, who passed away in January at the age of 83. Those photo panels will remain for the first homestand, and then, Rice said, the crews have to get back to work. The left-field bleachers are expected to be ready in May, the right field in June.
Another video board will be installed in right field as well. The Cubs have done studies on the wind patterns and whether the new signs will affect the balls, and Rice said there will be some slight alternations.
"It should have been there a long time ago," said the Cardinals' Carlos Villanueva, who pitched for the Cubs last season. "Most teams have those big screens, and they flash the fire and pump up the crowd. But here, when I used to play on the home side, it was hard to get excited in those moments."

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