The St. Louis Cardinals could not help but notice the size and the clarity of the video boards at refurbished Wrigley Field during the NL Division Series last fall.
For the upcoming season, their 10th at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals will be adding some of the same wow factor for fans: St. Louis announced details Tuesday of a multimillion-dollar investment in high-definition LED video boards that just might make the stadium feel brand new all over again.
Rather than a video board arms race or adding another layer to the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry, team officials say it's a simple matter of keeping up with available enhancements to the game. Major league teams have made the switch to high-def the last handful of years, and with their equipment now a decade old, the Cardinals were ready for their turn.
Joe Abernathy, the team's head of stadium operations, remembers joking that the Cardinals were always ahead of the Cubs in the scoreboard department until last year, adding ''the boys up in Chicago were able to make some hay out of it.''
''It's just about keeping up with technology,'' Abernathy said. ''It's a natural progression.''
Before this upgrade, Abernathy estimated the Cardinals' video boards ranked in the ''lower quadrant'' of in the major leagues. Their video board isn't the biggest in the majors - that distinction goes to Cleveland - but the Cardinals note it is cutting edge.
The team upgraded to HD at Triple-A Memphis last year and is doing the same at Double-A Springfield for this season.
''Fans will immediately notice the difference the first time they look at the new high definition video boards,'' said Cardinals President Bill DeWitt III, noting in particular ''in-game video entertainment and more social media engagement.''
The Cubs have recently unveiled a 42-by-95-foot video board in left field and a smaller board in right field, sparking complaints they were blocking the view from rooftops nearby that charge fans for admission during games.
The Cardinals are upgrading all 11 stadium-facing LED scoreboards. The main video scoreboard will be 120-by-40, with a total size about three times than the previous board and with twice the resolution and brightness. It will be installed well ahead of the April 11 home opener.
The stadium audio system is also being re-worked with new amplifiers and control software.