Target Stadium opens April 12
On April 12, Target Field will host its first game: the Boston Red Sox versus the hometown Twins. Stadium officials are expecting a sell-out crowd of 40,000.
The price tag for the stadium was cited at $412 million by the Twins, with another $105 million for infrastructure. It will give Minnesota its first outdoor professional baseball experience in nearly 30 years. What's more, fans both at the stadium and watching the action on TV will undoubtedly reap the benefits of a ballpark that is dedicated to baseball and hot wired for the latest technologies.
As the "Official Communications Provider" Qwest Communications is providing a converged IP network infrastructure and unified communications system for the stadium as well as the Twins business operations, which are located in the sports complex.
Qwest's network, driven by equipment from partner Cisco Systems, connects all voice, video, security, Wi-Fi and data transmission. It also enables the Cisco StadiumVision video and digital content distribution solution, which drives more than 600 HD video screens throughout the ballpark. Daktronics supplied the 57-foot tall by 101-foot wide scoreboard and the solution that supplies images to the board and other auxiliary LED board at Target Field.
"The broadcasting experience will be greatly improved by a purpose-built baseball stadium designed for high definition," said Chris Williams, managing principle at Dallas-based Wrightson, Johnson, Haddon & Williams, Inc., who served as a broadcast consultant to stadium architect Populous. The Kansas City-based architect, formerly HOK Sport Venue Event, built Orioles Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Pirates' PNC Stadium in Pittsburgh, and Giants' AT&T Park in San Francisco.
Being built specifically for baseball (versus its predecessor's dual purpose agenda for baseball and football), optimizes logistics, according to Williams. There's also ample space for multiple broadcasters, both in the parking lot (6-8 trucks) and broadcast booths to comfortably accommodate the home and away teams' regional broadcasters, plus the national rights holder or foreign broadcaster.
"Our booth is way bigger than it was at the Metrodome—and certainly set up better," said Jeff Byle, executive producer for FoxSports North, the regional sports network covering the Twins. "It's got better sight lines, its own lighting grid and retractable sliding windows, so it can be enclosed."
Byle was also upbeat about the stadium's one sport agenda.
"This is truly a baseball park," he said. And he noted that its smaller footprint and "more vertical than horizontal" layout put his crew closer to the fans, field and players. "This should really translate well on television. We want to show the intimacy and the ambience—to bring home how it is for the fans."
Byle's crew was thoroughly familiar with the stadium, having tested the lines, scouted locations, and recorded five half-hour shows that document the building of the ballpark for its "Under the Lights" series.
This season FoxSports North will cover all the Twins games in HD, as well as use Pitch Track (new to this coverage) and X-MO (Super SloMo), so it's particularly grateful for the architecture, infrastructure and other amenities provided by Target Field.
"We have locations at each foul pole and in the power alleys; we have a dead center field game camera—most are off a little to the right," said Byle. "All of the concourses in the stadium are very open, so we can roam around—and there are drops [camera hookups] throughout the concourses."
FoxSports has two different set locations for pre- and post-game shows, which could also be used during games. One, located down the right field line, can track fans entering from downtown or leaving the ballpark. The other, down the left field line, can track fans coming from or going to the light rail station by the stadium. And these set locations are covered and provided with radiant heat when needed.
Target Field has also optimized sight lines for a shag camera with three built-in camera pedestals and swivel seats at a perfect "High Home" position in back of home plate on the Terrace level.
"The top of the netting on the backstop does not come into view," said Byle. "There's no obstruction shooting first, second or third base."
Replay Control Room STADIUM EQUIPMENT
Andy Price, the Twins' Senior Director of Broadcasting & Game Presentation, said he got the idea for the tri-camera setup from Citi Field, which had a similar arrangement at different locations.
"The trick here is to get the High Home to a spot that's above the protective net behind home plate," he said. "And with seats, we don't have to kill any fan seats or obstruct their views."
Another bonus is the Canon BU45 located on the canopy above the upper deck behind home plate. Operated remotely from the stadium control room, the Canopy Cam provides an excellent wide view of the field and player positioning as well as a beauty shot of downtown Minneapolis. Price also noted that "it zooms in so tight that you can isolate it over the top of any base" for a close play.
"It was put in for our Stadium Show," he said. "We were testing it for the first time on Jan. 29 and realized that it could be just as much a broadcast resource—we're offering that feed to everybody."
The Twins have a 20-person production team, including five cameramen, one dedicated to operating the Canopy Cam from the control room, according to Video Coordinator Jim Diehl.
Alpha Video's Sports & Entertainment Group signed a $3.6 million contract to design and integrate the stadium's high-definition replay control room. It includes multiple Sony HDC-1400 and PDW-700 cameras; Nucomm wireless HD camera systems; Ross Vision 3 production switcher; Evertz HD and AES routing switchers with integrated multi-image viewers; six-channel EVS slow motion system; Ross SMS video server; Sony HDCAM and Panasonic DVCPRO HD VTRs; Apple Final Cut Pro-based editing systems; and a Riedel intercom and communication system.