A crew was set to begin tearing down the scoreboard Tuesday afternoon at Canal Park, about an hour and a half after new Aeros owner Ken Babby announced a privately funded $1.65 million project for a new video board.
Aeros General Manager Jim Pfander said the new 26-by-68-foot video board project, which includes an LED ribbon board in left-center field, is expected to be completed by Opening Day on April 4.
“I believe our board will be in the top five in terms of size in all of minor-league baseball and definitely is the largest at the Double-A level,” Pfander said. “I think it’s going to revolutionize what fans expect when they come to the ballpark. It’s really going to knock their socks off.”
Designed by Daktronics, the new video board has five times the amount of LED display area that the previous board had. Additional features include five high-definition cameras, instant replays, new in-game promotional and entertainment options and real-time statistics and game information.
“There’s no better way to go big with our new commitment to Akron than to put in one of the finest video systems that you can find anywhere in baseball,” said Babby, who said he started inquiring about the video board with consultants three months before he took over the team in late October. “This is going to make a huge difference in terms of fan experience here and is part of our $3.5 million in improvements that we’ll have here at Canal Park over the next two years.”
Babby said the new video board is the centerpiece of what he hopes to be a whole experience for Aeros fans, as the board’s color display boasts more than 281 trillion colors compared with the 16 trillion colors of a typical LCD HDTV.
“Forget baseball for a second, which is hard for all of us to do,” Babby said. “But imagine pulling your picnic blanket out there on a July night and sit in right field with your family and watch a movie — which is what we hope to do this summer at Canal Park.”
Babby has spoken about his passion for the ultimate fan experience since taking over the team, moving to Akron and throwing himself into the community.
“Ken has been working nonstop to improve the stadium and the experience,” said Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, who jokingly referred to Babby as the Energizer Bunny. “It’s hard to ignore the commitment he’s made if you start to look at some of the things that he’s talking about. But the new scoreboard, I think, will be a real wow factor for fans here.”
Plusquellic said Babby was also working to “bring a new restaurant” to Canal Park with the closing of the Wing Warehouse Sports Bar & Grill.
“Let’s fill the stadium,” Plusquellic said. “Let’s make sure that we respond to [Babby’s] commitment and investment in Akron and this great facility by making sure we fill the ballpark here as we guarantee a sellout, hopefully, here on Opening Day.”
Stephanie Storm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Aeros blog at http://www.ohio.com/aeros. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SStormABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.