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University of Florida Ushers in New Era of Baseball Excellence With Florida Ballpark

08/03/2021

University of Florida Ushers in New Era of Baseball Excellence With Florida Ballpark Daktronics has supplied a right-field videoboard, ribbon boards, Show Control system By Kristian Hernandez, Associate Editor

Monday, March 8, 2021 - 1:26 pm

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It's the dawn of a new age of collegiate baseball in Gainesville, FL. The University of Florida opened its 2021 campaign and the new Florida Ballpark with a win over intrastate rival Miami 2 weeks ago. The $65 million stadium, built with the latest video amenities by Daktronics, is more than fitting for a program that has become a perennial contender in the SEC and in the nation.

It doesn't matter if you're there in the morning, the afternoon, or the evening, it's impressive and has this aura, says John Gandy, associate director, marketing, University of Florida. We're fortunate to have another premiere facility where we can provide a high-quality and positive student-athlete experience.

A Pandemic Project: Construction Completed in Summer 2020 The venue has garnered much attention since its opening, but the project was originally discussed and conceived at the midway point of the 2010s. Through a diligent partnership between the institution's administration and athletics, the proposed plan was to erect the building on a parcel of land controlled by the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS). Led by Assistant Athletics Director, Facilities, Bill Smith and IFAS VP Jeanna Mastrodicasa and Director, Facilities Planning and Operations, Kevin Heinicka, the two parties were able to pinpoint a 13.63-acre site for a blueprint that would materialize in March 2018.

The university held a groundbreaking ceremony in February 2019.

When we started thinking about doing this five years ago, Jeanna and Kevin approached us about a piece of land that they wanted to convert for different types of research, says Chip Howard, executive associate athletics director, internal affairs, University of Florida. They're both big baseball fans and understood what we were trying to do, so this partnership really got the ball rolling.

Dignitaries and high-ranking officials kickstarted the construction with a ground-breaking ceremony in February 2019. Aided by designer Populous and general contractor Brasfield & Gorrie, construction moved along without a hitch throughout most of that year, including installation of the 30- by 50-ft. videoboard in right field in April and the multiple ribbon boards in May. A majority of the build was completed prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, but the crew still needed to add some finishing touches after the remainder of the baseball season was postponed. With a little more time on their hands, the university and Brasfield & Gorrie operated with extreme caution and safety to refine any details.

We still had close to 200 onsite workers when the pandemic hit, Howard explains. We were able to stagger our crews, so there were no overlaps or multiple vendors working inside a single area. It granted us more flexibility to finish the project on a bit slower but safer pace since most of the construction was in an outdoor space.

The Florida Ballpark sign was installed atop the 30- by 50-ft. Daktronics videoboard in September.

After the brick and mortar were laid down, the technological team went to work on getting the stadium online with its control rooms in the College of Journalism and Communications' Weimer Hall. This portion of the process hit a few hiccups due to the pandemic's impact on shipping gear from across the country.

Whether it was coming from overseas or from within the country, adds Howard, there were some delays in equipment being shipped. Some of the gear backlogged or completely stopped shipping for about six months. Those were the last components that we put together before the opener in February 2021.

At the same time, at the beginning of January 2021, the facilities crew began work on an entirely new project for another high-profile program: Florida Gators football. To start that endeavor, the team needed to wait until the demolition of the baseball team's former home of 31 years, Alfred A. McKethan Stadium.

We had to complete this new baseball facility before we could demolish McKethan Stadium and start our football project, he notes. Even though we didn't have a hard deadline for completion, we did have the deadline to get the baseball staff in so that we could demolish the old property.

Lighting Up the Swamp: Daktronics Provides Video, In-Venue Firepower The venue's crown jewel, the Daktronics videoboard is configured for multiple uses throughout a game. From traditional lineups and statistics to sponsorship implemented in an engaging way, fans are treated to a well-rounded presentation with the help of the Daktronics DMP-8000 digital media player and Show Control system.

A LED ribbon board runs from first base to third base behind home plate.

[The videoboard] is wired through fiber to our two control rooms, Gandy explains. We have the ability to produce the linear show on SEC Network and the videoboard component [from Weimer Hall].

Associate Athletics Director Alicia Longworth, Gandy, and the rest of the production team are experimenting with different layouts on the new LED display, including wide video output (1,056 x 441 pixels), home and visiting lineup (160 x 441 pixels each), player headshots (896 x 441 pixels), two areas for sponsorship (160 x 159 pixels each), balls/strikes/outs and line score (736 x 110 pixels), and clock (150 x 49 pixels). With the Daktronics Scoring-Timing Interface (DSTI), real-time information can be updated and accurate during the game. Since the baseball team is always in the hunt for the College World Series in Omaha, NE, the v
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2021/03/08/university-of-florida-ushers-in...
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