There's a part of Ravens Vice President of Broadcasting Larry Rosen that wishes he could temporarily have one high definition board on one side of M&T Bank Stadium and one standard definition board on the other end.
That way, he could clearly show that the $7 million investment the Ravens and Maryland Stadium Authority made in assembling the new RavensVision boards at M&T Bank Stadium is well worth it.
"To me, as someone who does this for a living, the difference is monumental," Rosen said. "It's overwhelming."
After seeing the RavensVision in person for the first time during Thursday's debut, Baltimore fans will likely have the same reaction – even without the side-by-side comparison.
The boards, which will be shown to the masses for the first time this weekend during the NCAA Lacrosse Championships, were absolutely gorgeous, portraying incredible detail and vibrant colors.
"We're doing everything we can to make the gameday experience a great one for our fans," Ravens President Dick Cass said. "What we're really trying to do is compete with those fans who might think of staying at home and watching on television."
Unless a fan has a 1,234-inch TV screen sitting in their living room, RavensVision will beat their home entertainment system. The Daktronics screen is 24 feet high and 100 feet wide and the production is high definition from beginning to end, meaning the images are shot with HD cameras, processed through a new HD control room and projected onto HD boards.
Besides a drastically better general appearance on replays, Rosen has some fresh features planned with his new toys.
Rosen will now be able to show replays spanning across the entire length of the board, instead of just half like in previous years. The Ravens will also show Red Zone replays from around the league so fans can keep* *tabs on other games while at the stadium.
Additionally, the Ravens have purchased a Steadycam, a wireless camera that allows the user to move freely on the field while keeping a level shot. Rosen said that will provide shots never seen before, such as walking among the players as they come out of the tunnel.
The Ravens are also installing more than 500 Sony flat screen high definition televisions throughout the stadium.
"The job is not to make a high definition version of our old standard definition show," Rosen said. "It's to make a dramatically cooler show."
Keeping the old SmartVision boards was not an option because replacement parts for the old boards, which were installed in 1998, are not made any more. The Ravens had to buy some replacement parts from a video board used in the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics and steal parts from the outer edges of their own boards to keep the SmartVision going over the past few years.
"When this stadium opened back in 1998 we had state-of-the-art video boards, the best in the NFL," Cass said. "Over the years they were still good boards, but they were no longer the best."
Other stadiums that feature the Daktronics' HD-X boards include the new stadium at the Meadowlands, home of the Giants and Jets, as well as the homes of the Steelers, Colts, Minnesota Twins, Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Mets.