Indianapolis Indians fans at Victory Field might feel even closer to the action next season with some big upgrades to the ballpark's video boards and sound system.
The city’s Capital Improvement Board on Friday unanimously approved three bids totaling $2.4 million for the improvements, which Indians officials said are overdue.
“Some of this is replacing equipment original to the venue,” said CIB Executive Director Barney Levengood. “This is a big deal for Victory Field.”
The CIB approved paying Brookings, South Dakota-based Daktronics $1.41 million for a new video scoreboard and ribbon boards; Indianapolis-based Duncan Video Inc. $634,206 for high-definition cameras and other upscale video production equipment; and Indianapolis-based Ermco-Esco $352,040 for a new sound system.
The upgrades will be completed in February. Indians General Manager Randy Lewandowski said fans coming to Victory Field will notice an immediate difference next season.
The most obvious change will be the new scoreboard, which at 35-feet-by-50-feet (or 1,750 square feet) will be much bigger than the one it's replacing at 18-feet-by-32-feet (576 square feet). It’s also high-definition; the current model installed in 2003 is not.
“The new video board is going to be three times bigger than the old one, and we think it’s going to really enhance the fan experience at the ball park," Lewandowski said. "The picture will be much clearer, better resolution, and brighter—so there won’t be any issues with the setting sun. This video board is the brightest on the market and that will make a big difference.”
The new video production equipment will allow the new video board to show better replays, slow motion and other special effects, Lewandowski said.
The upgrades also include installing two video ribbon boards for the first time at Victory Field. Spanning 135 feet each, they will be installed along each baseline and mounted to the facing of the upper deck.
The ribbon boards will allow the team to display additional game statistics and information such as pitch speed, pitch count and game scores.
The new sound equipment will take the venue from an analog to a digital system.
“That’s a significant upgrade,” Lewandowski said. “The sound will now be louder and clearer than it was before."
“Sound in general is what creates the atmosphere at the ball park,” he said. “And we think this new sound system will be a big part of that.”
The new outfield video board and ribbon boards also should enhance the team's ability to sell advertising at Victory Field, Lewandowski added.
The improvements come as part of a lease deal for Victory Field signed between the CIB and Indians in November 2015. The terms of the 20-year deal—which began April 1, 2016, and runs through March 31, 2036—includes a provision for the CIB to pay $6 million over three years for improvements to the city-owned venue which opened in 1996.
The Indians agreed to pay any amount over $2 million per year over the next three years for the improvements. This year, the team will pay about $400,000 for the project.
Under the terms of the team’s current lease deal, the Indians pay no rent, but will continue to cover all maintenance, repairs and operational expenses. Under the former 20-year lease deal, the Indians paid $500,000 annually to lease the 14-acre venue and an additional $50,000 annually as part of a ballpark improvement fund.
Indians officials promise the projects won't be the end of Victory Field improvements. Already, as part of the CIB deal, team officials are considering enhancements to the facility’s suites and stadium seats and a front office expansion. And Lewandowski said the team won’t hesitate to invest its own money.
“We’ve always put an emphasis on maintaining Victory Field as a first-class venue,” Lewandowski said. “This is the beginning of the next generation of the ballpark, and these projects [approved Friday by the CIB] are helping launch that.”